Leeds Channel 4 bid '˜similar to Tour de France', claims chief executive

Leeds's successful bid to bring the Channel 4 headquarters to the city has had an effect 'similar to the Tour de France', a meeting heard.

The meeting heard how the channel's move could benefit the whole of Yorkshire.
The meeting heard how the channel's move could benefit the whole of Yorkshire.

The broadcaster announced at the end of October it intended to move its operations to Leeds, following a competitive bidding process between UK cities.

Leeds City Council’s executive board met this afternoon to discuss what the move could mean for the city and the wider region, with claims that Bradford also has a big part to play.

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Leader of the council Judith Blake said: “It comes as an absolute delight for all the people putting the bid together for Channel 4 to come to Leeds city region and benefit Yorkshire as a whole.

“Communities across Leeds have a very keen sense that it is Leeds’s turn. It has not come out of nowhere, it has come from a lot of years of solid work.

“We have already seen a positive spin-off with other companies announcing they are coming to Leeds.”

Council chief executive Tom Riordan added that the positive effect it has had on the public was similar to the excitement when Yorkshire hosted a leg of the Tour de France in 2014.

He said: “It was a massively galvanising project for the city in a similar way to how the Tour De France was.

“Channel 4 were looking at how they could have the biggest impact – they weren’t looking for the biggest cheque.

“We have been bowled over by the reaction of people in the city and the pride they have shown. The word got around and people are really enthused by it.

“We can really use this as a galvanising force – it is a great opportunity.

“There is a type of otherness to them, which Leeds has as well – they are very into diversity and are progressive and want to have an impact.

“The broadcast industry is very white and male and middle class so it is a win to get the partnership with Bradford.”

Leader of Leeds’s Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter said: “Contrasting this with the news (in 2009) that Yorkshire Television were winding down in Leeds, we were due this.

“It is a great tribute to those who have worked so hard. Everybody was behind us and that way the impact if your bid becomes so much greater, and this is really good news.

“A lot more outdoor location work for all the channels is done in Yorkshire than in the Manchester area, yet the production is either further down south or in Manchester.

“Now we will have a major broadcaster. So the economic opportunity is very significant indeed.”

Leeds Liberal Democrats leader Coun Stewart Golton believed the work done around the city’s 2023 European Capital of Culture bid helped encourage Channel 4 to choose Leeds.

He said: “The big issue around Channel 4 will be the leadership and ambition the city had around Leeds 2023, to project ourselves and celebrate what we are good at.

“We have something pretty unique here. Sometimes your luck comes in, and you find an organisation that wants to be distinct too.”