Issued by City of York Council
City of York Council is supporting proposals to help the authority progress its economic and transport ambition for the city.
Proposals for a new body to manage investment worth £1.5bn in the county’s transport and economic infrastructure have been sent to Government for final approval after all five councils and the Integrated Transport Authority approved the plans. The investment includes significant funding devolved from Whitehall as part of the recent City Deal.
If the Secretaries of State Eric Pickles and Patrick McLoughlin agree, the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority will from next year become the driving force for economic growth through a joint approach to strategic investment and transport across the Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield districts.
A review of existing arrangements in West Yorkshire, concluded that bringing together key decision-making powers into a single body would put West Yorkshire and the wider Leeds City Region, including the City of York, in a much stronger position to tackle its shared economic challenges by boosting jobs and growth.
Each of the five West Yorkshire councils agreed that the move would also allow better prospects for future wealth and job creation, working together to have a stronger combined voice with Whitehall rather than acting individually.
It will work closely with the LEP board, and the LEP chair will be an associate member to ensure a strong joined up focus on the Leeds City Region Economic Strategy.
Subject to parliamentary approval, Government will establish the new body and devolve significant new powers and funding to it from April 2014. A shadow body will be set up later this year.
Establishing a Combined Authority is a key requirement of the Leeds City Region ‘City Deal’, which was agreed with Government last year and gives partner councils and the private sector led Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) greater control over economic investment and decision-making.
The transport element alone is expected to deliver 20,000 jobs and grow West Yorkshire’s economy by over £1bn a year.
Cllr James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: “Investment in York’s infrastructure – housing, transport, development sites and business accommodation – is crucial to the city’s sustained growth and economic prosperity.
“Through these new powers we aim to address long overdue improvements on York’s Outer Ring Road. This is all part of the next phase of transport improvements in York, improving services for all transport users to enable quicker and more reliable journey times.
“Complemented by the Reinvigorate York scheme and other city centre measures to help boost York’s economy.
“The establishment of a Combined Authority alongside the unique position of being part the Leeds City Region city deal means that we can move forward in this economic ambition for the city.
“This will also allow us to strengthen the links between our key supply chains and shared markets, and make vital improvements in the city’s economic infrastructure”
Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities, said: “Now there is the agreement of all five councils and the ITA, securing the go ahead from government is the last hurdle to us securing significant national funding and investment.
“It will mean that funding decisions that affect our region are taken locally by those that understand local economic conditions and what is needed to stimulate local growth.”
“We have the opportunity to unlock significant new powers and funding agreed through the City Deal, and with the public and private sectors working together, we are in a better position to ensure our shared ambition for economic growth for West Yorkshire and the wider City Region are achieved.”
Alongside promoting economic development, the Combined Authority will take on responsibility for Metro’s role as the Local Transport Authority for the area and, in doing so, will create a streamlined, integrated delivery body.
In consultation, more than 70% of those who took part agreed with the move to create the new body.
The full plans are detailed in the ‘scheme’ sent to government covering membership, voting, powers, functions, scrutiny and funding.
Proposals cover the inclusion of City of York Council and the Leeds City Region LEP, as partner members, to ensure effective links with the wider economic area and with the business community. All three major political parties will also be represented on the Combined Authority.
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