Responding to news that Ed Miliband will announce devolved powers for cities and regions including a Regional Cabinet and London-style powers over local bus services, Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said, “Growing West Yorkshire and the City Region’s economy, creating more jobs and better jobs, building new housing made available to all through help to buy schemes and underpinning these through a much- improved, integrated transport system are the fundamentals of our devolution asks.
“Although the Leeds City Region economy is, at £56bn, the largest outside London it is underperforming and among the reasons for this are the current centralisation of government and the piecemeal and conditional way that funding is allocated, which makes joined-up local planning and the co-ordination of strategic investment difficult.
“With locally-led programmes delivering up to three times faster and having double the impact of national programmes, we have the proof that devolution works in the Leeds City region.
“The positive measures announced today including the opportunity to be an active part of an English Regional Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, would enable us need to build upon those successes and transform the Leeds City Region into a net contributor to the UK economy.
“Our message has been ‘give us the power to match our ambition’ and these measures announced by Ed Milliband confirm that national politicians are listening.”
Among the measures Mr Miliband is expected to announce today are:
- Passing an English Devolution Act that will secure devolution to the English regions, transfer £30 billion-worth of funding over five years;
- Putting devolution at the heart of the next Labour government with regular meetings of a new English Regional Cabinet Committee chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by relevant Secretaries of State and leaders from major City and County Regions.
- Giving city and county regions more power over their public transport networks so they are able to set the right bus routes and have fairer fares, as well as integrate their transport services to help working people and businesses succeed in their areas similar to those in London.
In response to this third measure, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Cllr James Lewis said,
“Greater control over our transport networks, including the way in which buses are run and fares and routes are set is one of the key elements set out in the Combined Authority and the Leeds City region Enterprise Partnership’s devolution demands.
“We need a better road and rail network that support growth, new jobs and housing by bringing our towns and cities closer together.
“Giving us these powers, which have long been enjoyed by London and most major European cities and city regions is the approach we have long sought in West Yorkshire and would enable us to use the local knowledge and expertise we already have to develop those better links and put in place the improved local transport services that local people want and deserve.”