The power of “brand Yorkshire” will be a major asset in promoting the region internationally at a time of uncertainty caused by Brexit, a major business event was told.
Dan Fell, the chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, said he was continuing to press for a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal because his members believed it would make it more likely that the Government would listen to the region.
Mr Fell made the comments in a speech at the Doncaster Business Conference, which acted as a forum to debate how Doncaster can improve its economic performance.
In his speech Mr Fell said: “Local partnerships are, of-course, key to leveraging economic growth opportunities. However some activities must - necessarily - take place across a bigger geography. It is therefore important that we have structures, governance and mechanisms in place that are fit for purpose and that enable us to get the job done.
“We are pretty good at standing up for ourselves in Doncaster, but sometimes we need to work more closely with our regional allies to amplify our voices and get Government to listen.”
“I believe that Doncaster can pursue a Yorkshire devolution deal simultaneously, working closely with Dan Jarvis MP, the newly elected Sheffield City Region mayor, to get the money and wider benefits of the South Yorkshire deal flowing into our economy. Despite the best efforts of some to characterise devolution as a binary debate, it has never been about South Yorkshire versus Yorkshire. Instead, it is about doing things at the spatial level appropriate to the task in hand.
“While it was not unanimous, the majority of Doncaster businesses that engaged with our devolution consultation stated they wanted to see a Yorkshire deal as the end destination. I anticipate the EU referendum played a significant role in dictating member sentiment on this issue.
“Indeed, responding businesses stated that - in the context of Brexit-related uncertainty - ‘brand Yorkshire’ would be an important asset when it came to promoting the region internationally; to investors, tourists and skilled workers. They also stated that an overall population of five million would have heft when it came to banging the drum for the region in Westminster.”
The event. which was chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor, also featured a debate which included Ed Miliband, the MP for Doncaster North, Caroline Flint, the MP for Don Valley and Dame Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central.
The Doncaster Business Conference also featured a panel discussion which analysed how Doncaster could become a vibrant cultural centre.
There was a presentation from Rosie Millard, the former chair of the Hull UK City of Culture. She described how Hull’s City of Culture status had inspired local people to take pride in their city.
She told the audience of 250 business leaders at The Legacy Centre in Doncaster that 2017 had been a year of “unarguable triumph” for Hull.
She said: “The City of Culture is for a place that is fascinating and has a brilliant culture but also needs to be re-branded.”