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

West Yorkshire Combined Authority's most recent meeting took place on Thursday 17 September 2015 at its Wellington House HQ in Leeds.

 

What was discussed and decided?

Key issues discussed at the meeting included:

Meeting agenda

Progress on Growth Deal projects

By the time of its July meeting, WYCA had approved Growth Deal investment that will generate up to 5,000 extra jobs, 1,700 new homes and 79,000m2 of new commercial space, and which will lever in almost £350m of additional private sector investment.
Since the July meeting, contracts for two 2015/16 skills capital projects, with Calderdale and Shipley Colleges have now been signed. A third contract, with Kirklees College is set to be signed in the very near future.

Parking spaces at West Yorkshire rail stations

Work to extend car parks at Fitzwilliam, Horsforth, Mytholmroyd and South Elmsall rail stations are scheduled to start before the end of March 2016.
Around 200 new parking spaces will be created by this first stage of the programme. Stage two will see similar improvements at Hebden Bridge, Menston, Mirfield, Morley, Normanton, Shipley and Steeton & Silsden stations and could deliver up to 800 additional spaces.

Extra spaces will improve people’s access to the rail network and as a result, a wider range of employment opportunities. Increasing station parking will also help reduce on-street parking around stations and levels of traffic on town and city centre roads.

There are already 4387 park and ride spaces across West Yorkshire and this two-stage £14m West Yorkshire Transport Fund programme will increase that number by around 1000.

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WYCA’s role in strategic Leeds City Region planning matters

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.

One of the ambitions contained in the shared LEP and WYCA Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) is: ‘To further strategically align local planning policy, investment and delivery through stronger partnership working in relation to the Duty to Cooperate’.

At today’s meeting proposals were agreed that will mean WYCA:

  • providing formal consultation responses at publication draft stage in the preparation of local development plans;
  • commenting on planning applications; from a strategic perspective on an exceptions basis;
  • implementing resource-sharing activity relating to minerals and waste;
  • exploring the potential for further joint working opportunities; 
  • introduce a spatial element to the SEP, initially through the preparation of a diagrammatic representation of current spatial priorities and longer term to prepare a non-statutory joint investment framework/infrastructure plan for the Leeds City Region to complement the SEP.


Board members at the meeting welcomed the introduction of spatial planning to the SEP, which they acknowledged had been used effectively in other areas.

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Development of a Sustainable Urban Development Strategy for West Yorkshire and York

At its July meeting, WYCA agreed to take on oversight of the Sustainable Urban Development strategy, which will involve the Combined Authority and local partners to have some devolved control over how a £17m slice of the Leeds City Region’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) allocation is spent.

A Strategy that guides how the funding will be allocated will be submitted to government by Friday 25 September.

In its four sections the Strategy will set out the West Yorkshire & York geography covered and the notional £17m scale of the SUD allocation. It will summarise the area’s socio-economic position and the main problems, policy challenges and opportunities it faces along with a ‘SWOT’ (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the area.

The Strategy will focus on supporting projects that develop ecologically sound and resilient site development, especially in key economic growth sites. It will also set out how to bring together the £17m funding from the SME Competiveness (site development) Climate Change (flood risk management and Protecting the Environment (green infrastructure) elements of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) budget.
Finally the Strategy will set out the governance and assurance arrangements that will be put in place to deliver it.

Cllr Green pointed out that delays faced by all areas entitled to this funding may result in WYCA having to manage a five-year programme in 2½ to three years and potential recipients such as third sector and private sector organisations due to benefit from it were missing out. He called for government coordinated pressure to speed up the process.

Roger Marsh said that this situation supported the case for devolution. 

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Transport for the North

Transport for the North’s proposals include 30-minute journey times between Leeds and Manchester and Leeds and Sheffield, mile-a-minute average journey times on the motorways and oyster style smart ticket covering the whole of the north.

Board members agreed the proposals needed to work for the whole of our city region; connecting in Bradford, Wakefield, Halifax, Huddersfield and York as well as Leeds and that WYCA’s role in Transport for the North is an opportunity to make sure they do.

The meeting heard the roles WYCA was playing in Transport for the North by shaping its technical work, leading smart and integrated ticketing, city connectivity and developing its rail workstream.

One of the first key Transport for the North milestones will be a ‘direction of travel’ on HS2 which sets out options for Leeds station that are more integrated with both conventional rail services and proposed new TransNorth rail services.

It was agreed at today’s meeting to support the case for hosting Transport for the North at the Combined Authority’s Leeds headquarters. Representing the north of England’s 29 transport authorities Rail North is moving into WYCA’s Leeds HQ in October and is looking likely to become Transport for the North’s rail franchising arm.

There was agreement that WYCA needs to keep making the case for electrification of the TransPennine rail route. Cllrs Wakefield, Box and Green have written jointly to the Secretary of State seeking a meeting to set out the strong case for this to be ‘un-paused’. This would facilitate progress on CalderValley and Harrogate lines too.

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WYCA Medium Term Financial Strategy

WYCA’s Finance Working Group is drawing up a Medium Term Financial Strategy. Lasting three years, the Strategy is designed to ensure the combined budgets of the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are put to the most effective use for the enhanced and enlarged West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The meeting welcomed the news that the LEP has been successful in securing further funding for the continuation of the Enterprise Adviser’s work, Phase 2 of the Superfast West Yorkshire broadband scheme and the extension of Better Homes Yorkshire.
The Enterprise Adviser works at a strategic level in schools and colleges to motivate young people, support them in making informed choices about their future and help achieve results both in and out of school. The extra £150,000 secured will ensure the continuation of this work.

As a result of the Superfast West Yorkshire programme’s £7.25m second phase and additional £1.1m, around 22,000 Kirklees homes and businesses are set to benefit from faster broadband speeds. Phase One of the scheme, which has made fibre broadband available to 65,000 homes and businesses since January 2014, was completed last month. By the end of 2018, 98% of West Yorkshire and York’s homes and businesses will have access.

An additional £2.3m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s £25m Central Heating Fund means over 550 fuel-poor, off-gas households will receive a fully funded gas connection and central heating system.

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