Leeds and Partners’ regional position under review as chief executive exits

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THE POSITION of publicly-funded Leeds and Partners is under review, as its chief executive prepares to step down.

A strategic review involving Leeds City Council, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Leeds Chamber of Commerce could see the private company’s activities brought within “existing structures”.

Leeds City Council leader Cllr Keith Wakefield told a Leeds Chamber of Commerce event that it is “right” to review the organisation’s relationship with city region authorities.

Cllr Wakefield said: “The landscape has changed dramatically in the last three and a half years.It is right to review the appropriate place for Leeds and Partners.”

The company, which succeeded Marketing Leeds and receives almost £2m a year funding from Leeds City Council, this week confirmed chief executive Lurene Joseph is to leave in spring.

Cllr Wakefield said marketing “independent of the council” was important and there is “a lot of support” for activites around inward investment.

Tom Riordan, chief executive at Leeds City Council, told The Yorkshire Post the review will address Leeds and Partners’ position with councils, the LEP and the private sector.

He said: “What we need is a really good team approach to attract more investment and jobs to the city region.

“We believe we’ve made a lot of progress and we’ve got a good foundation to build from.”

A panel hopes to publish initial conclusions by November.

The group will be comprised of Cllr Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Cllr Peter Box, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandy Needham, LEP chairman Roger Marsh, and Leeds and Partner chairman and Asda chief executive Andy Clarke.

Mr Riordan said Leeds and Partners “could be brought within existing structures”, but the option of recruiting a new chief executive and retaining a standalone organisation has not yet been ruled out.

Leeds and Partners’ funding will be part of the review, Mr Riordan said. Currently, inward investment funding is directed through the LEP.

Commenting on the review, Mr Marsh said it is “essential” to have the right approach to attracting inward investment, in order to compete in “a fiercely competitive global marketplace”.

Earlier this week, Leeds and Partners claimed to have exceeded its council-mandated job creation target 18 months ahead of schedule.

Leeds and Partners’ Mr Clarke said: “We have a clear strategy and the right collaborations and networks in place; now is the time to build on this and establish even greater alignment with the regional growth agenda.”