Sheffield's Channel 4 bid leaders hit back at 'limited economic benefits' report

Councillor Mazher Iqbal.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal.

City leaders spearheading a bid to bring Channel 4 to Sheffield have hit back at a report which suggests moving the broadcaster here would have 'limited economic benefits'.

In a report published today, think tank Centre for Cities concluded that the BBC's move from London to Salford had 'minimal impact' on jobs in Greater Manchester and as such warned Sheffield C4 bid leaders to not 'overestimate the economic benefits it would bring.'

Richard Wright.

Richard Wright.

This conclusion flies in the face of bid leaders' estimates that the move would be worth £1.4 billion to the local economy, generating 4,050 jobs over the next 15 years.

And they were sticking by their forecast today.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “I'm afraid that in my opinion this analysis of the situation smacks of Oscar Wilde's ‘cost of everything and value of nothing’ quote.

“I have no idea of the purely economic value of Media City to Greater Manchester personally but the reputational value is huge.

An artists' impression showing how the new Channel 4 headquarters could look in Sheffield.

An artists' impression showing how the new Channel 4 headquarters could look in Sheffield.

“I have no doubt that Channel 4 relocating to Sheffield will deliver both economic and reputational returns that are absolutely critical to our city."

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business and investment, added: “We are confident the economic impact of a relocation would be significant, not just in terms of the direct jobs that would come to Sheffield but in the wider creative and digital sector that would grow and be attracted on the back of it.

"We will study the Centre for Cities report to see what lessons can be learned about how to maximise the benefits of such moves.”

Centre for Cities, which examines the economic impact of moving public sector jobs out of London, said the BBC's move to Manchester in 2011 did have a significant impact on employment at MediaCity itself by gaining 4, 600 new jobs.

However, when you exclude BBC headquarters, the move brought just 4, 420 jobs to the wider region - despite original forecasts that it would create up to 15, 000.

Paul Swinney, principal economist of Centre for Cities, said: “The impact of the BBC’s relocation shows that the Government and city leaders should not overestimate the economic benefits of moving public sector jobs from London to other parts of the country.

"The lesson for Sheffield and other cities bidding to be the new home of Channel 4 is that if they are successful, they should not expect to see a major boost to their economies beyond the jobs that the relocation would directly bring."

Bid leaders have earmarked a vacant site at Sheaf Square and office space at the Digital Campus, both close to the railway station, for the broadcaster. Bids from Sheffield and other areas including the Leeds City Region and Liverpool, have been submitted to the Government for consideration.

The Government said the publicly owned broadcaster must move out of the capital to boost jobs in the regions.