THE LANDMARK decision by Channel 4 to relocate its national headquarters from London to Leeds is a major vote of confidence in Yorkshire’s economy – and the quality of the workforce here in the burgeoning digital, creative and media sectors.
The broadcaster’s very presence here will help to raise the profile of this region and, hopefully, attract other prestige organisations to invest in a county striving to attract high-profile inward investment like this.
As such, the announcement is a tribute to those political, business and civic leaders who have worked hard to sell this county to Channel 4’s power-brokers. Yet, while the decision will be tinged with some disappointment in cities like Hull and Sheffield which harboured hopes of becoming Channel 4’s new home, it shows what is possible when Team Yorkshire gets it act together.
After all, the announcement came just hours after Dan Jarvis – the mayor of Sheffield City Region – used a Commons debate to reiterate his call for countywide devolution and a new system of local, regional and national government. They were powerful comments in the wake of independent research which revealed that Yorkshire devolution could be worth up to £30bn a year – and a Budget which, once again, ignored the North and continued a trend that began when David Cameron’s government tried to scale back the presence of the Department of Business in Sheffield.
However, while Richmond MP Rishi Sunak was sympathetic, the Local Government Minister was guarded because his boss James Brokenshire has still not visited Yorkshire six months after his appointment while Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse Minister, continues to be obdurate. Now a broadcaster and employer of Channel 4’s repute has recognised the opportunities that exist here, perhaps Ministers will now see the light.