Share-out urged for business income

INCOME from an Enterprise Zone in Leeds must be shared out across the wider area, an MP has warned.

Bradford East MP David Ward said it was crucial for the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – which will keep business rates from companies setting up in the zone in the Aire Valley – to use the money for economic development across the whole of Leeds City Region rather than only benefiting Leeds.

Mr Ward was speaking after meeting LEP chairman Neil McLean yesterday to discuss fears that the partnership is focusing too much on the success of Leeds and expecting other towns and cities to benefit from a “cascade” effect. Officials from Bradford Chamber of Commerce also attended along with Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe.

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They are particularly concerned that the Enterprise Zone – where companies will get business rate discounts, tax incentives and fast-track planning in an attempt to stimulate the economy – is in the Aire Valley rather than the centre of Bradford.

“It’s still early days but the crucial thing will be what happens with the funds that are generated from the Enterprise Zone which are available to the LEP,” said Mr Ward. “It’s basically crucial that they’re not retained within Leeds and there needs to be a strategic distribution of any funds generated.

“It also needs to take into account the particular circumstances in Bradford and I’m pleased Neil McLean seemed to be very much aware of that and very supportive of that.”

Mr McLean has previously attempted to ease Bradford’s fears by insisting the partnership will focus on all of the city region.

Ministers are considering a second round of bids for 10 more Enterprise Zones which are to be set up, including applications for one covering both banks of the Humber and one in Scarborough.