Leeds Arena plan on hold after outcry

PLANS to fund a Leeds-based rival to Sheffield Arena with Government cash have been put on hold.

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward will now commission an independent impact assessment on how a Leeds Arena would affect other regional venues before deciding on whether to part-fund the 30 million project.

The move follows talks involving Attercliffe MP Clive Betts, Sheffield International Venues' chief executive, Steve Brailey and Yorkshire Forward's chief executive, Tom Riordan.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Betts, who was also representing fellow Sheffield Labour MPs David Blunkett and Angela Smith, said: "I was extremely surprised to have confirmed that Yorkshire Forward's considerations to date hadn't included a detailed assessment of the potential impact of any Leeds Arena on other regional venues.

"However, as a result of the representations made by myself and Sheffield International Venues today, Tom Riordan has committed Yorkshire Forward to commission an independent and detailed regional impact assessment of the proposals for Leeds Arena.

"It isn't just the potential impact upon Sheffield's venues that needs to be considered. There is also a potential impact on other regional facilities, like Harrogate's International Centre."

Mr Betts said Yorkshire Forward had promised to agree the terms of reference of the impact study with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield International Venues and himself - and share the results of the study with them before making any decision to back the Leeds Arena financially.

He added any proposal from Yorkshire Forward would also have to be agreed by a projects review group, comprising civil servants from the Treasury, Communities and Local Government and other Government departments."

Steve Brailey says an arena in Leeds would seriously damage Sheffield Arena's business.

Mr Brailey and Mr Betts have now also met with Jan Anderson, Yorkshire Forward's executive director of environment to discuss their concerns.

Mr Betts said: "I'm pleased to be able to say that I believe proper consideration is now being given to the concerns I have been raising."

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