Taking up the position of Managing Director today, Ben Still described the West Yorkshire Combined Authority as “an organisation of the future that will be at the heart of growth in the Leeds City Region and at the centre of the devolution agenda.”
Speaking to staff on his first day, he said the Combined Authority is a body that will operate increasingly at a city region level. Over the coming year, he said, the organisation needs to ensure it is able to take on that ambitious role.
He said: “Since its formation in 2014, the Combined Authority has played a key role in driving economic growth for the Leeds City Region and York, which included securing the country’s largest Growth Deal, working with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and district councils. And we already have in place substantial devolution powers including a long-term £30 million-a-year “gainshare” settlement to deliver major transport schemes, which has only just recently been secured by other city regions in their devolution deals.
“The Growth Deal has enabled us to help reduce youth unemployment through the creation of over 4,000 work and apprenticeship opportunities make major improvements to local transport infrastructure such as Apperley Bridge rail station, Castleford Bus Station and the new Leeds Station Southern Entrance.
“Further substantial devolution will enable us to build upon this success and transform the lives of millions of local people by achieving the aims of our Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). We have significant plans for creating new job opportunities, providing young people with the training and skills they need, house-building and enhancing infrastructure through our £1bn, 10-year programme of ambitious Transport Fund investments.”
“In our staff, we have valuable areas of expertise and we need to be able to turn our hand to whatever our partners or Government asks of us to get our city region to be the best performing in the country.
“As we move forward we need make sure the Combined Authority can embrace change by having the right structures and processes in place to ensure we can act swiftly, flexibly and efficiently to deliver projects and services.”
Mr Still joins West Yorkshire Combined Authority from Sheffield City Region, where he led the recent mayoral devolution deal negotiations. He has worked with the Local Authority Leaders and Local Enterprise Partnership there since 2011, overseeing the creation of the Combined Authority, securing their economic growth deal and infrastructure fund.
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