Region must ‘embed’ Tour benefits

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YORKSHIRE’S business and political leaders must work in partnership to “embed” the long term economic benefits of the Tour de France coming to the region, according to a leading economist.

The RBS regional growth tracker, which is published today, reveals that Yorkshire and the Humber’s economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2014, below the national average of 0.8 per cent.

Rupert Seggins, a senior economist at RBS, who wrote the report, said Yorkshire’s performance had been mixed, although growth in areas such as York and North East Lincolnshire remained in line with the UK average.

Mr Seggins added: “The Tour de France coming to Yorkshire has made enough noise to get some attention.”

According to Mr Seggins, the scale of the Grand Depart’s legacy will depend on how Yorkshire’s leaders go about embedding the goodwill the region has attracted because of the Grand Depart. The Tour de France has provided a “foot in the door” which Yorkshire’s business and tourism chiefs can use to demonstrate the region’s economic strengths, he added. An estimated five million spectators lined the route of the world’s greatest cycle race, which came to Yorkshire last month.

The tracker provides further evidence of a broad-based recovery, with all nine English regions growing for the sixth consecutive quarter in the second quarter.

Mr Seggins added: “It’s a mixed bag for Yorkshire and the Humber in the second quarter, with the region’s growth slowing to 0.6 per cent, quarter on quarter.”

This compares with a figure of 0.8 per cent growth recorded in the first quarter.

Mr Seggins added: “This appears to have primarily been due to slower manufacturing growth and the region’s lower reliance on the fastest growing sectors, such as professional, scientific and medical.

“On the plus side, three sectors performed better than their UK peers – retail and wholesale, transport and storage and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply. North and North East Lincolnshire continues to hold the region’s top spot and has been rewarded with the region’s second largest unemployment rate fall, with only York, among the next fastest growing group, seeing a bigger fall. Unlike the rest of Yorkshire and the Humber, manufacturing was the standout performer.”

According to Mr Seggins, the first three months of the year was a manufacturing story, while the spotlight shifted to services in the second quarter.

Regions that did particularly well in the second quarter had a strong focus on areas such as scientific and medical, and distribution and transport services, according to RBS.

“As a result, London grew fastest, with the East Midlands not far behind. The capital’s inherent productivity advantage helped push its performance further

above the rest,’’ said Mr Seggins.

“Likewise at a local area level, it was the West and North West outer boroughs of London that topped the English charts. But they had to share top spot with Hertfordshire.

“But the success is not just confined to the South. Areas such as Warwickshire, North Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Warrington and East Cheshire have all been among the very strongest growing in England.”