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Leeds has been hailed as the city region's economic powerhouse by Councillor Keith Wakefield, who said "the rest of the region has to accept the facts". But Wakefield, a Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership board member, said a united front was essential to the region's success.

Wakefield was speaking at a Question Time-style event which allowed business leaders to quiz the LEP leaders as it prepares to plot out its future.

In highlighting the Manchester region’s success, Wakefield said: "Manchester does well and the rest of the region benefits from it because all of the other authorities recognise it is the economic engine that powers them.

"The authorities in our region have to accept Leeds is the dominant partner. We cannot afford to ignore that the city lies at the very heart of our economic success."

Leeds City Region LEP chairman Neil McLean also attended and he was quick to point out this would not mean the new enterprise zone would be located in the city.

He said: "Wherever the enterprise zone goes it must allow businesses to flourish, but it must also benefit all of the other regions."

Organised by Lee & Priestley, the event covered an array of topics ranging from the importance of the digital and creative sector and the manufacturing sector to the need to forget about the government grant culture and the importance of the private sector’s role in reviving the economy.

However, the hot topic at the debate was again rail transport and our links to both the North West and London. Insider’s Back The Bid campaign calls for major investment to transform the trans-Pennine rail network between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

While adding his support for a high-speed rail link, McLean warned: "The high-speed rail link will take 20 years to reach Leeds. We need a lot of investment now to stop the region grinding to a halt. The current transport network is becoming a barrier to business."


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