Harrogate council delegation to go fishing for investment in French Riviera

The MIPIM conference is held yearly in Cannes in the french Riviera and (inset) Coun Graham Swift.
The MIPIM conference is held yearly in Cannes in the french Riviera and (inset) Coun Graham Swift.
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Three senior representatives from Harrogate Borough Council will go on a "fishing trip" to the south of France, in an unprecedented attempt to attract heavyweight international investment to the region.

Cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development Graham Swift, chief executive Wallace Sampson and inward investment officer Sue Brandom will attend the Marché International des Professionnels d'Immobilier (MIPIM) in March.

Based in Cannes, the annual meet bills itself as the "world's leading property exhibition" - with thousands of investors and property firm representatives from across the world set to attend.

Coun Swift said it would provide an opportunity to showcase the district to the world, while potentially attracting foreign investment to the region.

"What we're doing is presenting some of our larger projects (such as) Harrogate Convention Centre, Ripon Barracks, the Station Parade Gateway," Coun Swift said.

"It's the first time we've gone out to try start winning foreign direct investment.

"If we go fishing there, we've got a good chance of landing something decent."

It's the first time a delegation from HBC will attend, and comes after several years of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) sending representatives.

"Leeds City Region have had material success in fishing for investment in the region and as a result of that HBC are well-placed to ride on their shoulders and start attracting serious investment into our district," Coun Swift said.

The expected cost of the trip is expected to be £5320, which will come from the external funding the council received from the Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool.

The council secured £300,000 from the regional pool in 2017, on the premise that it was used to deliver investment activities in a two year period surrounding the UCI World Road Race Championships this year.

Coun Swift said the funding coming from the rates pool made their attendance "financially neutral" for the council.

The £5320 price tag is made up of flights for the trio (£1200), accommodation (£1520), travel expenses (£300) and out-of-pocket expenses (£500).

The price includes two passes (£1800) with the third to be paid for by private sponsorship.

Coun Swift said the move was a "long burn" - "I don't think we come back with a signed contract in our pocket" - but the exposure of HBC to so many international investors justified it.

The trip is set to be formally approved by council leader Coun Richard Cooper at a meeting on February 13.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporting Service