CBI calls for Yorkshire Enterprise Partnership

Employers' organisation the CBI has thrown its weight behind the campaign for a body to represent the whole of the region's economic interests after the abolition of Yorkshire Forward.

Speaking to an audience of 550 business leaders at its Yorkshire & Humber Annual Dinner at the University of Leeds last night, regional director Andrew Palmer said that the proposed Yorkshire Enterprise Partnership community interest company would benefit business across the whole region.

Alongside recent bids for local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), a group of senior business and public sector figures, led by GSM Group chairman and Yorkshire forward director Barry Dodd, are campaigning for the creation of a Yorkshire Enterprise Partnership to work on areas they argue would benefit from a region-wide approach, such as inward investment and tourism.

Mr Palmer told his members at the dinner: "Our experience of the work of Yorkshire Forward has generally been positive. With the Coalition Government introducing new arrangements, they should not lose the positive work that has been done in the last few years.

On LEPs, Mr Palmer said: "There is still a great deal of uncertainty. There is work to create a Yorkshire-wide community interest company and we very much hope something will emerge from this work.

"The key message from business in this region is that we want to work more closely with local authorities and universities in the future."

As part of that approach the CBI held its annual dinner at a university for the first time last night, with the drinks reception taking place in the Parkinson Building and dinner in the refectory with food sourced from Yorkshire.

The dinner was sponsored by the University of Leeds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Business Link with support from Marks & Spencer, Welcome to Yorkshire, Hays and Mypec.

"We have been helping foster university-business relationships with a recent event bringing SMEs to the University of York," Mr Palmer told the audience. "The voice of your business and the universities will have to be much stronger in the future."

CBI president Helen Alexander told the audience that while the organisation accepted the Government has to make cuts, it is campaigning for it to focus investment on three key areas to help business.

"There are three areas which are priorities for investment - infrastructure, knowledge assets and human capital such as skills."

Veteran journalist Peter Riddell, who worked on the Financial Times and Times, spoke at the dinner.

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