Channel 4 staff declining move to Leeds is 'no bad thing for West Yorkshire'

The reluctance of Channel 4 workers to move to West Yorkshire is "no bad thing" for the region, a senior public servant has said.

As many as 90 per cent of Channel 4 staff affected by its Leeds move may reject the north in favour of redundancy.

Tom Stannard, the corporate director for regeneration and economic growth at Wakefield Council, said that the city's economy was likely to benefit from the TV channel's impending move to neighbouring Leeds.

Around 200 of Channel 4's 800 jobs are being moved from London to the area ahead of its new office opening in October.

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But a recent Guardian report suggested as many as 90 per cent of the organisation's affected staff could take redundancy instead of leaving the capital.

Wakefield Council's corporate director for regeneration, Tom Stannard

Speaking to a council committee on Monday, Mr Stannard suggested the news should be welcomed and that Wakefield businesses were already profiting from the relocation.

He said: "This is a personal view, but I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing to see all the recent headlines about how many of Channel 4's workforce were unprepared to move to Leeds.

"From my point of view, that means new jobs and new vacancies coming into the (Leeds) City Region.

"I'm not saying that that development alone is going to turn the economy of Wakefield on its head overnight, but this is a massive, prestigious, national organisation that's moving to Leeds.

The organisation chose Leeds as the home for its new digital and creative hub last October.

"Channel 4 has a massive supply chain for production, a large amount of which is already present and actively doing business in Wakefield."

In a wide-ranging presentation to councillors, Mr Stannard also addressed questions around skill levels in Wakefield and future job prospects for the district.

The area was named as one likely to be hardest hit by the rise of technology last year, with an independent report saying it could lose nearly a third of its workforce to robots by 2030.

Warehouses are one of workplaces expected to see the most change.

But the council has promised to invest in training for employees to help them adapt to the new jobs that will be created.

Mr Stannard added: "In logistics its by no means any longer the case that its simple, low paid manual work.

"There is now demand for software engineers and machine operators.

"There will be fewer employees, in terms of the headcount, but these will be jobs with a higher level of skills.

"There is ample opportunity for us to support the reskilling of manual workforce employees.

"It may not look all that different on the horizon, because it's still lots of sheds that you see from the motorway, but what's going into those sheds is very, very different."

Local Democracy Reporting Service