Speaking on behalf of West Yorkshire’s council leaders, West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Cllr Peter Box told the Yorkshire Post they are continuing to press for a second-stage devolution deal based upon the Leeds City Region. This means the five West Yorkshire council areas of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield plus the districts of Craven, Harrogate, Selby and York.
Cllr Box said West Yorkshire leaders believe the Government would like a deal in place before the Budget and that they had been working to reach an agreement that will enable them to do more to grow the City Region economy. He pointed out that significant devolution is already in place as result of the £1bn Leeds City Region Growth Deal signed in 2014.
Achieved via the local enterprise partnership (LEP), the Leeds City Region Growth Deal was the country’s largest. It provided unprecedented devolved funding and decision-making on business support, skills, housing and transport, which have only recently been achieved by Manchester, Sheffield, the North East and Birmingham.
“That deal has enabled us to achieve success. In transport we have seen some huge developments. In my own authority we have got the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road that will create thousands of new jobs as well as new homes,” Cllr Box told the Yorkshire Post.
Explaining why West Yorkshire leaders are pursuing a Leeds City Region-based deal, Cllr Box said devolution is about growing economies and that there is more than one economy in Yorkshire.
He said: “I don’t see a problem having three or even four combined authorities in Yorkshire that are really really focused on growing their particular economies, whether that be urban, rural or industrial, and at the same time have organisations like Welcome to Yorkshire that can extol the virtues of the county.”
With a £57.7 billion economy and a population of 2.8 million, Leeds City Region is the largest economic area outside London.
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