Leeds and Bradford ‘are vital to next industrial revolution’
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, was speaking at a major economic conference in the city yesterday, which brought together more than 300 business representatives, public sector organisations, developers, experts in the built environment and politicians.
The day-long event heard from a number of speakers about the transport and infrastructure projects which, it is hoped, will help connect the region’s cities and towns like never before and help drive the region’s economy.
“The great cities of Leeds and Bradford have always been economically important since the first industrial revolution,” Mr Murison said,
“I think that when people see the assets we have, whether it’s our airports or our other fantastic innovation work around digital infrastructure, we have got a very compelling proposition to demonstrate to the world that Leeds can lead that next industrial revolution as part of the Northern Powerhouse. And that’s not just about digital – which is one of the core strengths – but also around manufacturing, and in areas like health innovation.”
He said the region had the unique ability to both keep its individual city and town identities, and at the same time “be greater than the sum of its parts”.
“I think fundamentally no one is doubting that Leeds will be a success, or Bradford will be a success, on their own. But the point is we can do it better by working collaboratively with cities like Manchester, with the towns of West Yorkshire, but also the towns of North Yorkshire.”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, who also spoke at the conference, stressed Leeds is already a world leader in many modern areas of business, including being “the second most important city in the country after London in terms of financial services”.
“We have incredible growth in these really important areas of data, digital, creative industries, medtech, just to name a few,” she said.
She added the region has “enormous” collective strength potentially, but she also cautioned: “Transport is a real barrier.”