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Downtown in Business Leeds recently hosted a special “Leaders Lunch” event at Chaophraya Thai restaurant in Central Leeds. The venue right in the centre of Leeds’ business area was just right to hear Council leader Judith Blake deliver a forthright and frank update on the Leeds economy and future regeneration plans as influenced by such recent events as C4 choosing Leeds as its national centre and the continuing efforts for regional devolution and the likely arrival of HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse Transport initiative.

Guests, who included Northern Powerhouse Director Henri Murison, Lisa Bowden and Paul Kelly from the Mace Group, Leane Birch from Ernst & Young and Jennifer Young from Northern Ballet, enjoyed a tasty traditional Thai meal and listened intently as Councillor Blake updated the attendees on her vision, not only for the City of Leeds itself but also for the whole of Yorkshire and the North East.

She put the recent success down to the long term strategy of putting people at the heart of all that the council seeks to achieve – from healthcare and social well-being to the beautiful landscapes on the doorstep in the Dales and Moors. Lifestyle and opportunity and the building blocks to attract people and business. Success with C4 and similar large deals mean that the Council are on the front foot when it comes to negotiations with Government over devolution. There is for her (and the Council) no “corridor of uncertainty”. Indeed they are meeting Government official this week…. The Region has a vision of the devolved future – she feels it is up to Government to buy into that……. No doubt more news will follow. Councillor Blake also touched on the issue of the merging LEP’s and how that is a further piece of unifying the opportunities for the region

A brief Q & A session followed with questions ranging from what are the three key drivers to Council’s success to, what is the Yorkshire footprint….

Downtown in Business’ Justin Culver, led the thanks to Councillor Blake and wished her success in the forthcoming meetings on devolution.