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Concerns over Yorkshire Forward closing


12:00am 15th June 2011

York Central MP, Hugh Bayley, will meet the Business and Enterprise Minister, Mark Prisk MP, today (Wednesday 15th June) to discuss his concerns about the Conservative-led Government’s decision to abolish Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency. 

Mr. Bayley believes the decision will hit Yorkshire businesses and accelerate the loss of jobs in the region. 

An investment of £5 million in the National Railway Museum in York, which was promised by Yorkshire Forward before the general election, has already been withdrawn as a result of which the Museum has lost co-funding worth another £15 million.

Yorkshire Forward is due to be wound up by March 2012, but already the Agency has cut its staffing by over 200 staff,  and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) that are due to replace the regional development agencies will not have the same funding to serve the region in attracting the investment, jobs and the skills that it needs.

Yorkshire Forward has been supporting the four new LEPs in Yorkshire, providing staff and expertise to assist with their Regional Growth Fund bids.  The York and North Yorkshire LEP has now been approved by the Government, but where the Enterprise Zone will be located has not yet been finalised.

Hugh Bayley is concerned about the closure of Yorkshire Forward. 

It has provided a lead in promoting the Yorkshire and Humber region and attracting investment and jobs. 

They helped 30,000 businesses a year, or 1in 12 of the region’s businesses, to improve performance. 

Around 1 in 30 of the region’s workforce are in a job because of Yorkshire Forward’s work during the past five years. 

They have been one of the two most successful Regional Development Agencies at turning investment into jobs.

Their work has produced an additional tax revenue of around £725 million per year for the Government – more than double the money given to the Agency by the Government.

Hugh Bayley MP says:

“I have huge concerns about the closure of Yorkshire Forward.  The statistics speak for themselves – the agency is helping businesses in the region and creating jobs, and they more than pay for themselves.  They are there to help businesses following unforeseen events, like the catastrophic flooding of 2007, when they helped to get local businesses up and running again.  Since 2005 Yorkshire Forward have provided core funding to Science City York, helping to create jobs and confirm York’s status as a leading Science City in the UK. 

“There were plans for Yorkshire Forward to support a team of six officers to assist the Council’s capital development sites in York, including University of York expansion, the Hungate scheme and redevelopment of the south end of the Nestlé site, but budget cuts  mean they are now only able to support two posts for three years.  Other projects that were planned to go ahead but have been cut include the funding of £1 million towards the renovations currently underway at York Minster, £5 million investment at York Railway Museum to redevelop the Great Hall, and an enormous £15.6 million investment in the development of York Central. 

“The smaller budgets for the new Local Enterprise Partnerships will hold back development and investment in our region.  I will be raising these concerns with the Minister and asking the Government to think again. Regional development agencies are set to continue in Scotland and Wales, and in London through the Mayor’s office, so Yorkshire will be at a considerable disadvantage if Yorkshire Forward closes.”

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