Hopes and concerns for the coming year

THERE will be plenty of challenges for the West Yorkshire economy in 2011 but council chiefs are being positive about finding answers.

The Government's Comprehensive Spending Review has hit council services hard to accommodate Chancellor George Osborne's bid to save billions.

Leeds Council is to lose 1,400 posts from its 17,000-strong workforce over the next four years, with 1,000 to go next year.

Leader Keith Wakefield said that the council will "have to show civic leadership" in tackling the problems and work with the private sector to provide services and offer training opportunities for the city's unemployed.

He said: "By January, with Chamber support, we will be able to launch initiatives citywide to see what we can do to provide young people with training and jobs over the next few years."

Mr Wakefield said that some social objectives will have to be met by the private sector. He said there was a good relationship between the council and the commercial world.

He said: "The council is taking this challenge seriously and will be taking its full part in making sure we get the best for people."

Council chief executive Tom Riordan said he had been in contact with 1,000 businesses to develop relationships between them and the council. He said: "The Leeds economy has always been quite resilient because it is so diverse and so is quite insulated from economic shocks."

Kirkless Council has said that 1,500 jobs could go. Council leader Mehboob Khan believes the strategy is to focus on creating the conditions for business and enterprise to thrive.

He said: "Leading Kirklees out of recession has been a priority for my team since the day we took control of the council. We have invested heavily in our economic development unit, offering businesses support in claiming rate relief - safeguarding nearly 400 jobs - and taking on apprentices."

Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood said : "It would be a brave person who predicted anything other than a difficult and challenging 2011 for businesses and the economy everywhere, including Bradford.

"We have a number of strengths which will stand us in good stead and the major City Park scheme will deliver a significant boost to the local economy. When it opens, we will become home to the largest urban water feature in the UK. That kind of landmark is very attractive to visitors and businesses and an improved city environment should act as a magnet for other development. Bradford District has a higher than average rate of business start-up. People here are keen to be their own bosses and have the wherewithal to make a success of it, often with help from the council."

Flora Mewies of Ward Hadaway

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