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

West Yorkshire Combined Authority's most recent meeting took place on Friday 20 November 2015 at its Wellington House HQ in Leeds.

What was discussed and decided?

Key issues discussed at the meeting included:

·         Growth Deal Delivery and Budget Approvals;

·         West Yorkshire Area Based Review of Post-16 Education;

·         Appointment of WYCA Managing Director.

Growth Deal Delivery and Budget Approvals

Members were told that significant progress made in delivering schemes and the news that £76.5m of £115m Growth Deal funding had been committed. They were told that by 2021 Growth Deal investments will have created 5,800 jobs, built 800 new homes, constructed 58,000m2 of new commercial floor space and levered an additional £350m of private investment into the City Region.

They also discussed the  good progress being made with the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road designed to open up land development opportunities, and welcomed the recent extension to the concessionary fare offer to all 16-18 year olds devised to help young people access training and apprenticeships.

Funding packages recommended by WYCA's Investment Committee for the Access to Capital Grants programme. These were £15.7m for a new business support offer to encourage innovation and local supply chains and to help start-ups and £4.5m for schemes to modernise Further Education Colleges in Bradford, Selby, Shipley and Wakefield.

Further progression of the Aire Valley Park and Ride project through Gateway 2, together with expenditure of up to £2,823m from Growth Deal transport funding, was approved.

West Yorkshire Area Based Review of Post-16 Education

Members heard that an Area Based Review was to be undertaken of post-16 education will start November 2015. 

Designed to ensure education institutions are strong and resilient and meet the needs of young people, businesses and communities now and in the future.  The local further education and sixth form colleges to be reviewed are

•           Bradford College

•           Calderdale College

•           Kirklees College

•           Leeds City College

•           Leeds College of Building

•           Shipley College

•           Wakefield College

•           Greenhead College

•           Huddersfield New College

•           New College Pontefract

•           Notre Dame Catholic SFC

 

West Yorkshire Leaders have been consulted on aspects of the review and a steering group, which includes representatives from all five West Yorkshire councils  and the LEP, has been established

This group will be chaired by Cllr Green in his capacity as Deputy Chair of the LEP's Employment and Skills Panel and Chair of the Authority's Investment Committee.

Councillor Green reported that he had met with the FE Commissioner, David Collins and had stressed the fundamental principle that the review should be founded on the Strategic Economic Plan and the Skills Plan but that FE Commissioner had made it clear the purpose of the review is to rationalise provision and realise savings. 

Members expressed concern about the discussed the negative impact that this could have Cllr Blake stressed the importance of Further Education in providing young people with skills needed by local employers. They also said it is a key route for more mature students to re-train.

Appointment of WYCA Managing Director

WYCA Chair Cllr Peter Box announced that Ben Still has been appointed as West Yorkshire Combined Authority's new Managing Director.

Announcing the appointment, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said: "Following the recent, open recruitment and selection process, I am pleased to confirm that Ben Still has been offered and has accepted the Managing Director post.

"With the chance to secure a transformational extension to Leeds City Region devolution deal still very much up for grabs, our 10-year, £1bn programme of Growth Deal Transport Fund schemes getting underway and the results of our joined up working in West Yorkshire such as the recent opening of the Broadway Centre in Bradford, this is an exciting time to be joining the Combined Authority.

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 funds.

This work built on a career in both the private and public sectors, including a decade in the civil service working for Department for Transport, heading the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, and working in private practice at consultants Steer Davies Gleave in Leeds and Arup in London.

Welcoming the news, LEP Chair Roger Marsh OBE said: "Having worked with Ben on a number of occasions over the years on joint activities, including recently at MIPIM UK 2015, I know that he brings with him a deep understanding of the City Region's diverse agenda and experience of working in partnership with both the public and private sector.

"Having already delivered significant impact with modest resources, the LEP is poised to deliver extraordinary economic growth across the Leeds City Region, with our civic partners in the Combined Authority. I am confident Ben's appointment will help us deliver our shared vision for transformational economic growth both further and faster for the benefit of our businesses and residents."

Mr Still is expected to join West Yorkshire Combined Authority in the New Year. Since November 2011 it has been a statutory requirement for Local Planning Authorities and certain prescribed public bodies such as WYCA to engage constructively on strategic cross boundary planning matters.

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