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Devolution deal expected by Christmas

West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region are calling for a first-stage devolution deal, after the announcement of an agreement for Sheffield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) Chair Cllr Peter Box said today.

There was cross-party support at today’s WYCA meeting on the need to progress a West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region devolution agreement with Government as soon as possible and it was agreed to email Ministers to press the case for a deal.

Consensus

“There was agreement at today’s meeting that the important thing is to get a first stage bid settled and let the government know the strong consensus in the City Region” said Cllr Box. “There is no reason why our proposal, which like Sheffield’s, covers economic, jobs, housing and transport growth cannot be agreed by Christmas.

“Through local schemes, jobs are being created in the Leeds City Region at a cost of £7k per job locally rather than £37k nationally, which shows how we are already making devolution work.

“We need to be able to build on those successes and start working on how we will start putting the initial elements of our Proposition in place,” he continued.

Summit

With a devolution deal expected, Cllr Box is inviting colleagues in the Manchester and Sheffield city regions to a Northern Powerhouse summit in Leeds.

“Northern Powerhouse is the buzz phrase being bandied around by politicians and used in the media but if you asked anyone on the street to describe what it means, they would struggle to tell you,” said Cllr Box. “Now that Manchester and Sheffield’s initial devolution deals are in place, and ours is expected before Christmas, it is important we come together as the main economic forces across the north and work out how we are going to make our plans a reality that really does generate a Northern Powerhouse.”

Framework

At today’s Combined Authority meeting, Cllr Box said it was important to create a comprehensible framework for the Northern Powerhouse in the same way as had been done with Rail North.

“We need to create a dynamic, easy-to-understand structure for Northern Powerhouse that sets out what we are doing and which acts as the comprehensive point of contact that our partners in businesses and universities and potential investors have made clear they want to see.”

Cllr Box is writing to the chairs of the Manchester and Sheffield Combined Authorities to invite them to the event in the New Year.

“Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield’s city regions have some of the largest economies outside London so by coming together for this Summit in Leeds we can start laying the foundations of a Northern Powerhouse that generates growth and opportunities right across the north,” he added.

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