In his summing up session towards the end of the Northern Futures Event in Leeds on Thursday 6 November, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair, WYCA Chair Cllr Peter Box welcomed Nick Clegg’s announcement earlier in the day that devolution for Leeds and Sheffield will not be dependent on the introduction of City Mayors, which is happening in Manchester.
Cllr Box made the point that Government budget cuts to local councils in West Yorkshire that are almost as much as the £573m the Government has committed to in the Local Growth Deal, are making delivering day-to-day services difficult. He said in the current climate, people were more likely to be worried out the future of their local Children’s Centre rather than devolution. However, the mood had changed he said and he was confident devolution would happen.
Looking to the future, Cllr Box said, “We will deliver a NEET-free City Region, a rapid transport system, skills for every young person and we will turn the City Region into a net contributor to the Exchequer.
Explaining how this would be achieved he said, “Because we are good at working with business and good at working together.”
Leeds City Council Leader and WYCA member Cllr Keith Wakefield who opened the event Tweeted ‘Particularly pleased with indication our region's devolution deal will come without conditions.’ In his message he said he is ‘Looking forward to developments to come.’
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said, “The Northern Futures summit today confirms what we have long believed, that the North is no longer the problem, but instead the solution to sustaining the UK’s prosperity and global competitiveness.
“The scale of opportunity in the Leeds City Region is immense. We are the largest economy outside of London and have already delivered significant impact with limited resources. By working together with our northern neighbours, we can create an economic powerhouse that can compete alongside London and the South East for global business, investment and jobs.
“I was delighted to see so many young people taking part in the event, because the North’s future is their future. Freya Tweedy and Sam Simkins, from Abbey Grange Academy in Leeds, spoke passionately about the need to focus on our people, places and potential. People in particular are the drivers of economic growth.
"As the Deputy Prime Minister alluded to in his concluding remarks, we will know we have achieved true impact from devolution when young people like Freya and Sam have the jobs and opportunities to stay in the North after their education - contributing to our region’s future growth and prosperity and that of the nation, for generations to come.”