Leeds & Partners ownership under review

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

The company, which receives the bulk of its funding from Leeds City Council, yesterday confirmed Lurene Joseph is to leave the high-profile role.

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 the council and the wider Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Cllr Wakefield said: “The landscape has changed dramatically in the last three and a half years.

“It’s right to review the appropriate place for Leeds & Partners.”

Leeds & Partners was launched in 2012 as a successor to Marketing Leeds, with a remit of bringing inward investment to the city.

The need for marketing that is “independent of the council” was the driver behind its formation, Cllr Wakefield said.

Tom Riordan, chief executive at Leeds City Council, said the city had “not been punching [its] weight” in attracting investment for the last 20 years.

He thanked Ms Joseph for her work at Leeds & Partners, in attracting global interest in the region and creating jobs through its activities.

Earlier this week, Leeds & Partners claimed to have exceeded the job creation target handed down from the council 18 months ahead of schedule.

Mr Riordan said investment discussions must now look beyond the borders of the city.

He said: “The boundary of Leeds City does not stop businesses and people travelling across. We have to think more about that.”

The council will continue to work with Leeds & Partners, in conjunction with the LEP and private sector businesses to find the best place for the organisation, he added.

Both Cllr Wakefield and Mr Riordan stressed the importance of business involvement in wider regional policy discussions.

Cllr Wakefield said the voice of the private sector “needs to be louder” in the curreent devolution debate. Governance arrangements at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which currently has one business representative on its board, should be looked at to enable this, he added.