Whitehall may follow BBC and head North

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THOUSANDS of BBC staff have just made the journey North as the corporation moves departments to Manchester, so could the Government do the same?

What about the entire Department for Business being based in Sheffield rather than Whitehall? Or the Department for Work and Pensions moving to Leeds?

It may sound fanciful, but one MP has tabled Bills to be presented to the House of Commons next week which would do just that.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann is calling for the headquarters of a string of Government departments to be moved out of London and spread around the country, saving money and bringing jobs to regions hard hit by the recession.

“The London-centric nature of Britain’s Civil Service is neither economically nor politically intelligent,” he said.

“It is time that the location of British Government truly reflected the people it says it aims to represent.

“Currently, all Government department headquarters, even those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are based within the M25.

“At a time when economic regeneration outside of London and the South East is desperately needed, the Government should be taking the initiative to lead by example, not expecting private companies to make the first move.”

Mr Mann’s idea may be radical but Yorkshire cities like Sheffield and Leeds have benefited from civil service relocations in the past decade.

He has tabled his plans as a series of Presentation Bills, which have little chance of making progress but could spark debate.

They also include moving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to Bristol, the Department for Transport to Birmingham, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to Manchester and the Department for Education to Nottingham.

jonathan.reed@ypn.co.uk