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What happened at February's West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting?

West Yorkshire Combined Authority's most recent meeting took place on Thursday 4 February at its Wellington House HQ in Leeds. 
  

What was discussed and decided?

Key issues discussed at the meeting included:

 Business Flood Recovery Fund

In January, West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Investment Committee agreed  to establish a Business Flood Recovery Fund to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Leeds City Region recover from the effects of recent flooding.

At their February meeting, West Yorkshire Combined Authority members approved £3.6m for the Business Flood Recovery Fund from the 2016/17 Leeds City Region Growth Deal allocation in addition to £1.4m recommended by the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee in January.

Managed by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Business Flood Recovery Fund is now open to businesses in the region, with grants of between £5,000 and £100,000 available. Funding will be aimed at supporting businesses with critical capital investment requirements.

Application forms and further information about the support available to flood affected businesses can be found at www.the-lep.com/floodsupport or by calling the LEP’s business growth helpline on 0113 348 1818.

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Growth Deal Approvals

Over £7.5m of funding was approved at the meeting, to progress transport schemes designed to accelerate growth and create jobs.

Projects being progressed include:

  • the A629 Corridor Improvement Scheme to reduce journey times between Halifax and Huddersfield and improve access in Halifax town centre to support local economic development and employment opportunities and reduce congestion.
  • Glasshoughton Southern Link Road, which will provide access to land allocated in Wakefield’s Local Development Framework for development.
  • widening A650 Tong Road - one of Bradford’s most congested roads – to reduce journey times and improve cycling and pedestrian facilities.
  • rail station car park extensions schemes at Fitzwilliam, Horsforth, Mytholmroyd, South Elmsall and Hebden Bridge, Menston, Mirfield, Morley, Normanton, Shipley and Steeton & Silsden in a second stage to add 800 new park and ride spaces to the 2,500 already available on the West Yorkshire’s rail network.
  • improved links to Leeds Bradford Airport.
  • development of a ‘masterplan’ of improvements at Bradford Interchange to support city centre regeneration.
  • detailed designs and planning work to improve traffic at Leeds’ Armley Gyratory and M621 Junctions 3 and 4, which are part of a wider package of improvements designed to remove most traffic from City Square, enhance access to the rail station and ensure that Leeds is ‘HS2-ready’.

These projects are being developed through West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £1bn, 10-year Transport Fund Programme, forecast to create up to 20,000 jobs across the City Region. Funding for the schemes is through the £1bn Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
 
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Budget and Business Plan

The outline business plan and revenue budget for WYCA for 2016/17 were approved.

Because West Yorkshire Combined Authority became the accountable body for the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on 1 April 2015, this year’s budget has been established as the first that covers full extent of the Combined Authority’s activities.
  
Among the key areas of the budget are:  

  • Concessionary travel – payments to bus and train operators for reimbursement of travel concessions including £46.2m reimbursement to bus operators for the statutory English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS). The WYCA is required to reimburse operators on a ‘no better no worse’ principle which is achieved through using the Department for Transport approved reimbursement model. 
  • Subsidised bus services – almost £18m paid to bus operators for providing essential but non-profitable bus services, schools services and AccessBus. 
  • Passenger services – which includes costs to run eight major and 19 smaller, unstaffed bus stations, 14,000 bus stops and 4,500 bus shelters, provide passenger services such as MetroLine and online services, produce bus and rail timetables and promote public transport.
  • Rail costs – fully funded from the Department for Transport (DfT) to meet the costs of rail franchise in West Yorkshire.  
  • Policy and delivery – paying for teams providing transport policy, strategy and planning. 
  • Strategic priorities – to enable the Combined Authority to respond to new and emerging priorities such as the Government’s Buses Bill and/or the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. WYCA has also been supporting the work being undertaken through Transport for the North on smart ticketing.
  • Economy - to deliver on the economic agenda including a revision of the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and continued development and roll out of activity supporting its four priorities of:
    • Business growth.
    • Skills and jobs.
    • Resource efficiency.
    • Infrastructure for growth.
     

Still in the process of being developed, the 2016/17 West Yorkshire Combined Authority Business Plan sets out a number of key actions, including agreeing and implementing a second-stage devolution deal, deliver Growth Deal and Transport Fund projects and supporting the work on improving transport.
   
Further organisational development and realignment will take place over the coming year to ensure the Combined Authority is focused on delivering the organisation’s priorities effectively and efficiently.

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 Rail North and Transport for the North

Significant benefits from the new rail Northern and Trans-Pennine rail franchises negotiated by Rail North, of which West Yorkshire Combined Authority is a member, were welcomed. Starting on 1 April 2016, the new franchises will include:

  • over 500 new-build carriages, including 125mph intercity trains.
  • the withdrawal of all the outdated Pacer units.  
  • a refurbishment of all rolling stock to be refurbished by 2020. 
  • 50% extra morning peak capacity on Northern into the major cities by the end of 2019. 
  • 80% extra morning peak capacity on TransPennine Express into the big cities by 2019. 
  • free Wi-Fi on trains and some stations, with on-board entertainment and real-time passenger information. 
  • £40m investment in station improvements.  
  • Some level of staffing for 45 currently unstaffed stations.  
  • automatic compensation for delays for registered season and advance purchase ticket holders.
  • a range of longer distance providing an inter-city standard of service using new and upgraded trains.

At the end of January, the passage of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act in parliament paved the way for Transport for the North to become a statutory organisation, enabling the north of England to draw down powers and resources from central government to deliver improvements to transport across the North.

This includes creating a northern transport strategy, setting out priorities for significant investment in the north’s inter-city road and rail network.in the north’s inter-city road and rail network.

Two of Transport for the North’s work-streams - Local Strategic Connectivity and Integrated and Smart Travel - are being led by West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The Combined Authority’s Transport Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield and LEP Chair Roger Marsh represent Leeds City Region on Transport for the North’s Partnership Board.
   
A meeting between its Chief Executive David Brown, Chair John Cridland and Combined Authority members takes place on Wednesday 10 February.

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Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan Refresh

Developed over a decade of economic research and consultation between the LEP and over 600 businesses and partners, the Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) is a long-term strategy for transforming the Leeds City Region economy.
  
Based upon the four priorities of:

  • Business growth.
  • Skills and jobs.
  • Resource efficiency.
  • Infrastructure for growth.

The SEP sets out how to unlock the full economic potential of the City Region. Economic modelling in 2014 projected that if delivered in its entirety through Growth Deal resources, the SEP would create:

  • £5.2 billion in additional economic output; 
  • 62,000 extra jobs; 
  • £675 million in benefits savings to the exchequer. 

Work to refresh the Plan has included an update of the economic evidence base underpinning the strategy, consultation within the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority on the priority policy areas of skills, business, energy/resource efficiency, housing, regeneration and transport; and an external consultation event held with stakeholders from across the public, private and third sectors.
    
Throughout February, a programme of further external engagement with business, wider public sector stakeholders and members of the public will take place face to face and online. This work will continue to reflect emerging policy particularly in the area of discussions with government regarding further devolution.

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Link to the full Combined Auhtority meeting agenda

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