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16.10.17

WYCA makes ‘ambitious but deliverable’ £200m devolution bid

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has submitted a £200m bid to the government seeking funding for public services and greater devolution in the region.

The Autumn Budget submission includes calls for a £100m investment in housing for the Leeds City Region which would be used to increase the rate of construction and create more affordable local homes.

It also asks for a proposed £40m to create local sources of low-carbon energy in order to reduce domestic and business energy costs and improve sustainability.

In addition to the advised investment, the submission emphasises the importance of devolution to the region in order to ensure other plans can reach their full potential.

The document sets out the case for the government’s planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund, intended to replace European Union funding after Brexit, to form part of any ‘single pot’ arrangements as part of devolution.

The authority also suggested investment in the region’s MedTech sector and the creation of a new High-Speed Rail Institute building. There were further calls for backing from the government on the region’s HS2 Growth Strategy and other promises surrounding local transport investment.

“We are hugely ambitious for Leeds, the Leeds City Region and the north,” commented Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council. “To meet those ambitions, central government should empower local areas through devolved powers and investment to bring about the housing, transport and business improvements that are desperately needed.

“Leeds already makes a significant contribution to driving forward the UK economy, but if we are empowered to do more, we can deliver the improvements needed to ensure future economic growth is both inclusive and to the benefit of all.”

The authority’s plans also included a continuation of key economic strategies, such as the LEP Growth Service which supports 2,500 Yorkshire businesses a year.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, WYCA chair, argued that the submission makes some “ambitious yet totally deliverable asks,” building on the region’s track record of “successful partnership delivery.”

“Achieving our region’s full potential over the longer term means creating a strong, successful economy that generates new sources of wealth and opportunity for everyone as well as making our full contribution to the UK economy,” she added. “With an economy that’s already bigger than Wales and 11 EU countries, that potential is huge.

“However, realising this requires decisions on policy and investment to be made by people who are dedicated to our region and who have the local expertise required, so I hope the government will match our ambition for the meaningful devolution that will make this possible.

“Only by taking decisions and allocating resources at the right level, as set out in the devolution proposals contained in our Autumn Budget submission, will we be able to turbo-charge our economy and ensure our region plays its full part as a Powerhouse, not just for the north but for the whole of the country.”

(Top story c. SimonD02)

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