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Transport tops agenda for Combined Authority

Transport was very much on the agenda at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting held on Thursday 28 July.

Combined Authority members discussed and approved national, regional and local transport schemes that will help to generate good quality growth in the local economy, leading to the creation of jobs. Discussing HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail they agreed there is a strong case for stations in Bradford and York on the planned East West additional route. They also said HS2 must be progressed but stressed that the views of local people along the planned route must be taken into account.

At the meeting, Combined Authority members stressed the need for seamless connections and interchange with an improved local transport network to ensure the benefits of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are felt by people right across Leeds City Region.

Combined Authority members stressed their commitment to ensuring the funding promised by the Department for Transport after the cancellation of NGT is invested in a way that provides the optimum benefits across the City Region. Leeds Council will be discussing the range of options with other WY Authorities and stakeholders over the summer

Plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail are being developed by Transport for the North (TfN), which aims to add £37bn to the North’s economy by transforming its transport links. West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are part of Transport for the North and at today’s meeting, members agreed to support TfN being established as a sub-national transport body.

Consultation

Combined Authority members also welcomed news that the thee-month YourTravelYourSay consultation on new, 20-year Transport and Bus Strategies is underway and that 800 people have already filled out feedback forms. They will be used to update the current West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan, setting out how a modern, effective and integrated transport system can help people make the journeys they need to for jobs, education and leisure.

Over 70 drop-in events are taking place across West Yorkshire as part of the consultation but people can also provide their feedback and views online at www.yourtravelyoursay.co.uk
Proposals for the North Kirklees Orbital Road linking junction 25 of the M62 to junction 40 of the M1 via the A644 by the A638 were also approved among the City Region Growth’s Deal 3 and Large Local Major Schemes bids.

The £151.6m scheme will provide an alternative route to these key motorway junctions from Brighouse, Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield and will help kick-start the development of housing, employment and mixed use sites. The meeting welcomed the news that the scheme’s potential commercial development will result in better local access to jobs, skills and training and improved air quality.

Cllr Peter Box, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair said:

“Good quality transport links with the rest of the country, across the North and between our City Region’s cities, towns and villages are vital to us achieving the good quality growth set out in our share Strategic Economic Plan.

“Through the oversight of the Combined Authority we can ensure that these national, regional and local schemes are coordinated to provide the greatest benefits the City Region, while at the same time ensuring the views of people living in our districts are taken into account.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and CA Transport lead, said:

“Northern Powerhouse Rail, enhancing our regional transport connections, will bring new opportunities for investment in Leeds City Region. To maximise these opportunities we need to look at where new stations would best serve our region, including in Bradford and York, depending on the chosen route. Over the coming months we’ll be looking for reassurance from Government that people and businesses in Leeds City Region will benefit from the enhanced transport connections proposed.”

Growth Deal

Funding to deliver major local transport schemes such as North Kirklees Orbital Road forms part of a bid by the Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). It was approved by the Combined Authority and has been submitted to government.

Alongside the transport funding submission, the Combined Authority and LEP are bidding for an additional £109m from the third round of the government’s Growth Deals funding programme to boost jobs and economic growth in the City Region. This additional funding has the potential to create up to 10,000 extra jobs in the region, as well as safeguard a further 10,000 jobs in areas at risk of flooding and unlock land to build over 300 new homes.

A key aim of the Growth Deal round three bid is to bring forward key development sites for employment and business growth including the North Kirklees Growth Zone, Enterprise Zone sites in Bradford, Calderdale (Clifton), Kirklees (Lindley Moore and Mirfield), Leeds and Wakefield, and Leeds South Bank – the location of the future “Yorkshire Hub” HS2 station. Other proposals focus on securing additional, targeted investment for flood defences, broadband upgrades and innovation in low carbon energy technologies, alongside measures to increase inward investment, innovation and skills development through capital grants for businesses in priority sectors such as manufacturing and digital.

The LEP secured over £1 billion of funding in the first two rounds of Growth Deal bidding and, with the Combined Authority, has now embarked on a six-year investment programme to deliver local transport improvements, housing and regeneration schemes, business growth and skills programmes.

In the first year of Growth Deal delivery, close to £40m has been committed to projects including business grant programmes that have supported 200 small and medium-sized enterprises and is expected to create 3,300 new jobs; a business flood recovery fund that has provided £1.4m capital funding for firms whose plant, machinery or premises were damaged in the Christmas 2015 floods; 10 further education (FE) projects worth a total of £66.5m; and the £35m Wakefield Eastern Relief Road Scheme, set for completion later this year, which will ease congestion while opening up land for housing.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said:

“Through our existing Growth Deal and other devolved investment we’ve secured in recent years, government has shown confidence in Leeds City Region’s ability to play a leading role in driving northern and national growth.

“We have a long-term Strategic Economic Plan for our City Region and are already on course to create thousands of new jobs and add billions of pounds to the region’s economy. But as I’ve said before, this is not job done but job well begun. Now we’re calling on government to match the full extent of our ambition by devolving further powers and funding to our City Region, moving us closer to our goal of becoming an overall contributor to UK growth and enabling everyone who lives and works here to feel the benefits of a strong and successful economy.” 

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