Leeds City Council is set to take over the economic research and intelligence unit of axed regional development body Yorkshire Forward. Under a plan to be discussed by the Council’s Executive Board on Wednesday 7th September, the five members of Yorkshire Forward’s Chief Economist’s unit will be transferred to work for the Council at an annual cost of £343,000.
Yorkshire Forward, along with all the other regional development agencies, is to be disbanded finally in March 2012. If the Council’s plan is approved, the Unit, run by Chief Economist Patrick Bowes, will be incorporated into the Council’s workforce as early as November this year.
The Council says it has the cash to pay for the extra staff for the rest of this financial year and that the Unit is expected to pay much of its way in 2012-13 by selling its services – presumably to cash-strapped local authorities and regional development organisations. Who knows? Maybe the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership will toss a crust their way.
It wasn’t clear from the plan whether there was any private sector market for the Unit’s services.
Whatever, the Council is going to look into different ways of securing long-term viability for the new team and will set about marketing the Unit as soon the transfer goes through.
It wasn’t clear either whether Chief Economist Bowes will transfer with the rest of the team (or at what salary). If he does, he’ll be back working alongside his old Yorkshire Forward boss, Tom Riordan, currently the Council’s Chief Executive.
“The Unit has a strong track record of delivery and its stock within the region is high, with their products and services highly valued by local authorities and local economic partnerships,” the Council report on the planned transfer said.
“The council and its partners face challenges in understanding the changes taking place in the city in respect of demographic change – the demands of a changing population in terms of housing and demand for services and the changing face of the local economy, including the shift from public to private sector employment.
“By exploiting the specialist economic analysis skills and intelligence assets of the Chief Economist’s Unit to add value to our existing capacity and expertise, Leeds can make significant steps towards becoming an intelligence led city,” the report said.
Intelligence led city, Intelligence Driving Growth (Leeds City Region’s motto). Are they trying to tell us something?