Phew! That was quick work!
It was only last month that they announced that the future of Leeds’ publicly-funded investment and tourism agency – Leeds and Partners – was under review … and now, as if by magic, the organisation has got a new look and what appear to be new regional responsibilities.
The new look comes in the shape of a new website: say farewell to the rather dull, local-sounding www.leedsandpartners.com, and hello to the rather snazzy, regional-sounding www.investleedscityregion.com.
The new responsibilities are less easy to pin down, but it looks like the organisation has morphed from being primarily a city agency (albeit one with a three-year contract to drag the region out of its investment doldrums) into a primarily regional one.
How so? Well, the “About Us” section of the private company’s new website kicks off with:
“Leeds and Partners is the strategic organisation responsible for attracting inward investment and growing the visitor economy in the Leeds City Region.”
And a job advert (closing today, folks!) for a Leeds and Partners PR and media type goes further:
“Leeds and Partners is the strategic agency responsible for attracting inward investment, growing the visitor economy and raising the profile of the Leeds City Region.”
We knew about the inward investment, but when did Leeds and Partners win the contract(s) to become responsible for the visitor economy and profile-raising of the whole region – from Bradford to Barnsley, Skipton to Sowerby Bridge, and all points in between?
Taking on those responsibilities is quite a big deal. You’d think there would have been an announcement. But I can’t find one.
You’d think there would be a record of the decision in the minutes of the meetings of our regional decision makers, the Leeds City Region (LCR) Leaders Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), but I can’t find anything there either.
(to be honest, that could be because the most recently published minutes of a meeting of the LCR leaders date back to July, and of the LEP to January. January! I kid you not. Our West Yorkshire leaders are the kings of transparency)
Someone put me right and point me to the tender documents, the contract award notice, the service level agreement and the governance arrangements for this chunk of publicly-funded work that’s gone to a private company.
Documents or no documents, where does this new regional “visitor economy” function leave Yorkshire’s acknowledged tourism and profile-raising experts, Welcome to Yorkshire? Who knows.
All will be revealed presumably when the findings of the review are published.
In the meantime, what’s also a bit odd about the new website is that there doesn’t seem to be a list of who’s currently on Leeds and Partners’ governing board.
Odd too that the section on “The Team” fails to include the company’s £160,000 a year chief exec, Lurene Joseph, who, I understood, wasn’t supposed to be leaving until spring 2015.
Did they forget to include that stuff?
With so much confusion, it would be easy to get the wrong idea of what’s going on with Leeds and Partners, an organisation that’s had a pretty torrid time in the press since it was set up a couple of years ago.
So it’s just as well they’ve included in the job spec of the new PR person an ability to:
“… facilitate favourable and accurate coverage of Leeds and Partners’ agenda for Leeds, rebutting inaccuracies and negative stories to ensure delivery of Leeds and Partners’ strategic objectives.”