'˜Devolving power to Yorkshire will help to answer the big business questions'

DEVOLVING power to Yorkshire from central Government would help leaders overcome problems that are holding the region back, a business event was told.

Greg Wright of The Yorkshire Post is pictured with (from left) Sarah Longlands of IPPR North, Anjalika Bardalai of TheCityUK and Chris Hearld of KPMG Picture Tony Johnson.

Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, outlined the economic benefits that he believed would follow if more power was handed to local decision makers.

He made the comments at an event organised by TheCityUK which analysed how financial services firms outside London are boosting economic growth.

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Mr Riordan said: “If you’re sitting in London and thinking, ‘Should I put this pound in to Leeds or into York or into North Yorkshire?

Tom Riordan Picture Tony Johnson.

“You obviously don’t know what impact it is going to have. Surely you are going to be better off devolving (power) down to those areas, as has been done in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.”

Mr Riordan said he wanted to see the public and private sectors working together and “led by a very clear accountability (that comes) through a mayor”.

He believed this approach would help to resolve the big questions around infrastructure and skills.

He added: “That’s what we want to do. We’re not there yet, but we won’t give up in Leeds. We will continue to press for a devolution deal.”

Anjalika Bardalai Picture Tony Johnson.

During a panel debate, which was chaired by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post, Mr Riordan called for more institutions, such as regulators, to be moved out of London.

He added: “Leeds’s employment rate is one of the best in Europe, never mind the UK. We are a jobs machine.

“There are a lot of really good things happening in the North and we need to celebrate it.

“Following this great report from TheCityUK we are really keen to work with the industry to see what we can do to support growth – but devolution will be key.”

Chris Hearld Picture Tony Johnson.

The event, which was held at KPMG’s head office in Leeds, also featured a presentation from Anjalika Bardalai, the chief economist from TheCityUK, which is the industry body for the financial services sector.

Other participants in the debate included Chris Hearld, TheCityUK’s city chairman for Leeds, who is also KPMG’s Northern regional chairman, and Sarah Longlands, the director of IPPR North.