Responding to the result of the Scottish Independence referendum, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair and Wakefield Council leader Cllr Peter Box said, “While the Scottish people have voted against independence, a decision which I think is the right one and personally welcome, a result of the whole referendum process is that Britain’s political and administrative landscape has changed permanently.
“What we now need to see is all the main parties, who in the lead up to the Scottish vote have been talking about the need for more devolution and taking an interest in our cities across the north, making good on their proposals.
“That means a fundamental reorganisation of how government deals with the City Regions. Not a symbolic tinkering at the edges, so-called commissions or imposed gimmicks that some current Ministers might want to see but real changes that enable us to make our own decisions based on local experience and expertise rather than have them made for us by civil servants 200 miles away.
“The government has already shown it has confidence in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and our partners in the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership by agreeing to give us the country’s largest Growth Deal and the basis for the unique West Yorkshire and York Transport Fund. And the fact that the LEP’s programme to help unemployed people move into employment, education has seen a much higher success level than the national programme shows we can deliver greater efficiencies and value for money locally.
Integrated transport system
“The Combined Authority is currently drawing up a set of devolution demands that include the powers to grow the City Region’s economy faster and develop a rapid, integrated transport system, which will support that growth.
“As I have said before, the genie is out of the bottle on devolution and I can guarantee minister and shadow ministers, we will not go away.”
Leeds City Council leader and Combined Authority member Cllr Keith Wakefield
said, “The Scottish Referendum has proved people feel passionately about, and want to get involved with, political debate when it directly involves them and their local communities. This result reinforces the widespread belief that further devolution must happen, giving local people much more say and control over spending and investment in their areas to promote growth, job creation, stronger communities and prosperity for all.
“For this to happen we need a true commitment to decentralisation and there needs to be a genuine timetable in place, with strong direction as to how this will happen.
Greater decision-making powers
“Leeds City Council and its partner neighbouring local authorities in the Leeds City Region will continue to call for significantly more devolution from Whitehall, not only for countries but for cities and city regions, in terms of greater decision-making powers and financial control including local tax retention. This is vital if we are to be able to take the local action we know we need to improve transport connections between different economic markets - to promote growth, create jobs and in turn rebalance the national economy to benefit the north.”