City musn’t rest on its laurels to continue growing

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Over the last two decades we have seen the foundations laid to ensure our city is set fair to prosper with its reinvention as a place for retail, leisure and business.

If today’s figures are anything to go by, that foresight, is coming good. Last year nearly 27 million people came to the city, an increase of nearly 8 per cent on the previous year.

The Grand Depart would have inflated that figure, but a broader view shows it was not just the Tour that brought people into our city.

The opening of the Royal Armouries in the mid-1990s, the creation of the Victoria Quarter which attracted Harvey Nichols, and the building of the First Direct Arena which has enabled us to attract the likes of Bruce Springsteen, all underline a co-ordinated strategy to shake this city from the decline of its traditional industries.

Business is also coming to the north, with Leeds the fifth most popular destination for conferences.

But that is perhaps the biggest challenge. We do not have the conference facilities to really land the big events nor do we have the transport connectivity. Despite revealing plans for an expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport last week, we are still unable to compete with Manchester. We need the sort of ambition that drove us forward in the 1990s, to address these two big issues if we are to see the city continue to forge ahead.

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