Leeds leaders' hopes for 2011

As we begin a new year, six of Leeds' leading figures describe their hopes – and their fears – for the city in 2011

The Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, wants to see the vulnerable protected in what he fears will be a difficult time for many.

"As we, with much of the world, continue to face the financial stringency following the banking crisis, I have a two-fold prayer.

"First, that those responsible for global finances will find ways to stabilise the world economy. Second, that we shall do our utmost to avoid cuts falling on the weakest in our society.

"So both government and local authorities must ensure continued support for the unemployed, the homeless, refugees, and those facing debt. The burden of cuts must be borne by those who can afford it – not those who cannot.

"We need to raise our vision of one world and one people, so that we work for peace in Afghanistan, Iraq and crucially between Israel and Palestine, praying for all who seek peace there.

"At home I look for the development of the 'City of Sanctuary' movement which is particularly strong in Yorkshire – in Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield and elsewhere, with a warm Yorkshire welcome for all who come to our county.

"I pray too that we all may grow in our own spiritual understanding of God's love for us and that our churches may be places where our hope and trust for the future may be renewed.

"May 2011 be a year of blessing for you all."

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John Temperley, senior lecturer in marketing at Leeds Metropolitan

University, predicts a difficult year for retailers in Leeds as consumers are hit by rising prices

"Prospects for this year do not appear rosy.

"A combination of economic indicators point to challenges across the retail sector as a whole.

"The current economic pressures are the rise in VAT, combined with increases in the cost of raw material .

"Plus a recent Bank of England report on inflation predicted it would remain above target for the whole of 2011.

"This means that household income will fail to keep pace with inflation this year as it did for the whole of 2010, according to the Asda Income Tracker monthly report.

"The overall picture is one of caution in both the food and more general retail sectors.

"Independent research by Datamonitor said that consumers would spend more this Christmas than any year since 2007 but would not have more money to spend , the difference would come from dipping into overdrafts , credit cards and other short term credit.

"These consumers will be spending less in the new year to compensate."

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Councillor Bernard Atha is a long-time supporter of the arts in Leeds, playing a vital part in the development of various schemes and projects which have boosted the cultural offering of the city. He hopes for a year in which the government doesn't cripple the arts.

"The cuts now being imposed on local authorities and the arts must not be allowed to kill off any of the arts organisations in 2011.

"This is important because the arts mean different things to different people : a refuge to some, a challenge to others, a refreshment , inspiration or escape for others.

"As we enter a new year we should remember that no other UK city outside London has such riches of arts provision as Leeds - Northern Ballet, Opera North, Phoenix Dance and the Playhouse are national organisations.

"So too is the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, the Yorkshire Dance Centre, Red Ladder Theatre Company, the Henry Moore Foundation and the Leeds College of Music, the biggest in the country.

"Supporting them is an enormous range of professional, semi-professional and amateur companies spread across the city of Leeds.

"This richness reaches from Morley to Moortown, Boston Spa to Beeston enhancing the lives of those who participate in the art forms either as spectator or artist.

"Look at the tens of thousands who attend the Leeds theatres every week, in the tens of thousands who enjoy Opera in the Park and Kirkstall Fantasia annually, who play instruments in a variety of bands and orchestras, sing in innumerable choirs or who attend dance classes merely for the sheer enjoyment of its discipline.

"The West Park Centre has over one thousand visitors per week perhaps more than a half are children or young people under 18.

"They are not a disposable item. They exist to keep the body politic healthy - and over the next 12 months we must fight to preserve that.

"In the meantime let us celebrate the official opening of the new Northern Ballet building this year and look forward to the reopening of the City Varieties as signs of our conviction."

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Gary Williamson, chief executive of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire

Chamber of Commerce, is optimistic about a brighter future for local businesses and investment despite the slow economic recovery.

"In the end 2010 proved to be an interesting year in Leeds. Times are still challenging, but we have also seen a number of positive developments in the city.

"For example, work has started on the Leeds Arena and Trinity Leeds and progress has been made on Eastgate Quarter, which is a sign of confidence in the city's economy.

"These developments will transform Leeds and reinvigorate the city's offering for residents, businesses and visitors.

"In the longer term, the Government's commitment to High Speed Rail will ensure Leeds is connected to London and Europe and it is expected that the line will generate 29 billion in economic benefits for Yorkshire and Humber.

"The spending cuts put significant pressure on Leeds' public services and agencies, as well as creating challenges for their local suppliers.

"In 2011, we will see an increasing importance for the public sector and private sector to work in partnership. This could present a number of opportunities for businesses in Leeds and the Chamber will continue to support and work with Leeds City Council to develop a future growth strategy for the city.

"The introduction of Local Enterprise Partnerships will give business the opportunity to play a lead role in driving economic growth in the Leeds City Region.

"Leeds's businesses are both flexible and creative, they have faced up to difficult market conditions, with a remarkable resilience.

"So while, the next 12 months will undoubtedly be tough, feedback from Chamber members shows that they are determined to make 2011 a year for growth and positivity."

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Gary Hetherington is chief executive of Leeds C F & A Co Ltd, owners and operators of Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie. He hopes for a year of sporting success.

"2011 is a big year for everyone of Headingley Carnegie and there's a real buzz of anticipation around the place as we enter the New Year.

"The Rhinos were wounded in September having finished a season for the first time in four years without the big prize – the Super League Championship, and the players have returned to training determined to regain their number one status.

"A new coaching team led by 'old boys' Brian McDermott and James Lowes has added to the chemistry, and an opening day clash with the resurgent Bradford Bulls at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium is a great way to start the new season.

"For Carnegie, it's a different objective – to survive in the Premiership. We find ourselves in the same position as last year and in need of a change of fortune and form. There is a confidence it can be done and everything points to an exciting time in the New Year.

"Finally, it's a big year for our old lady, the 120-year-old stadium. Our vision is to complete the redevelopment of the rugby facilities with a new pitch, screen/scoreboard and south stand. Plans are afoot to bring these plans to fruition in 2011.

"It's an exciting time to be involved with Leeds Rugby as we enter 2011 full of hope and expectation."

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Deborah Green is chief executive of Marketing Leeds, the organisation charged with marketing Leeds nationally and internationally. She is optimistic about the city's future in 2011.

"There are great things planned for our city in the next year. The retail sector continues to thrive with almost 1billion being invested in the city through the highly anticipated Trinity Leeds development, scheduled to open in 2012, and the planned Eastgate quarters. These projects demonstrate a deserved confidence in the city's future.

"While Leeds is already the UK's largest centre for legal, financial and professional services outside London, 2011 looks set to be a great year for other emerging industries, such as healthcare technology and the digital sector. Leeds Bradford Airport will also commence work building a new terminal, which is set to bring in to the city further international investment.

"It's also an exciting time for the cultural sector in Leeds with a range of events and festivals taking place that will raise our international profile. The new centre for Northern Ballet Theatre and Phoenix Dance Theatre dance was completed in August 2010 and officially opens in January 2011. I am also incredibly excited that in March 2011, Kirkstall Abbey will play host to a spectacularlive BBC TV event - Frankenstein's Wedding…Live in Leeds. There's also a new Henry Moore exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery to look forward to in Spring. Leeds will be the only venue outside London to host this prestigious collection – and admission is free!

"Let's not forget, too, that work will start in 2011 on the multi million pound Leeds Arena, which will add 25million to the local economy and create just over 300 new jobs, whilst further adding to the attraction of Leeds as a leisure destination.

"The coming together of the city's marketing support services and functions in 2011 also presents an exciting opportunity to further enhance the profile and prosperity of our great city.

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The Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, wants to see the vulnerable protected in what he fears will be a difficult time for many.

"As we, with much of the world, continue to face the financial stringency following the banking crisis, I have a two-fold prayer.

"First, that those responsible for global finances will find ways to stabilise the world economy. Second, that we shall do our utmost to avoid cuts falling on the weakest in our society.

"So both government and local authorities must ensure continued support for the unemployed, the homeless, refugees, and those facing debt. The burden of cuts must be borne by those who can afford it – not those who cannot.

"We need to raise our vision of one world and one people, so that we work for peace in Afghanistan, Iraq and crucially between Israel and Palestine, praying for all who seek peace there.

"At home I look for the development of the 'City of Sanctuary' movement which is particularly strong in Yorkshire – in Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield and elsewhere, with a warm Yorkshire welcome for all who come to our county.

"I pray too that we all may grow in our own spiritual understanding of God's love for us and that our churches may be places where our hope and trust for the future may be renewed.

"May 2011 be a year of blessing for you all."