Headlines: June 12th, 2013

Plans have been agreed for six Yorkshire councils to manage a pooled fund to support economic growth and transport.

The proposed West Yorkshire Combined Authority will be made up from Leeds City Council, York City Council, Bradford MDC, Wakefield Council, CalderdaleDC and Kirklees MBC. The combined authority will have significant powers and funding devolved to it from April 2014. As well as focusing on driving economic growth through a joint approach to strategic investment, the Combined Authority will take on responsibility for Metro’s role as the Local Transport Authority for the area. This will create a streamlined, integrated delivery body.

The long-term vision for the partnership is to build a world-leading dynamic and sustainable low carbon economy that balances economic growth with a high quality of life for everyone’. Targets include accelerating output growth to an average 2.6% per year to 2030 and the creation of 60,000 new jobs by 2016. The result will be a 10 percent reduction in unemployment, extra taxes for the Treasury and lower benefit payments.

Neil McLean, Chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Roger Marsh, the incoming Chair, welcomed the proposals. In a joint statement they said: “The LEP very much welcomes this important step forward in unlocking the significant new powers and funding agreed through the City Deal. If the proposals are agreed, the LEP is committed to being an active partner member of the Combined Authority, and to continue working across the public and private sectors to ensure that business views are represented in decision-making, and that our shared ambitions for economic growth in the Leeds City Region are achieved.”

Kru Desai KPMG’s head of local and regional government, said: ‘The partnership approach of the six Yorkshire local authorities involved in the innovative transport fund, to stimulate and facilitate significant economic growth in the area, is a remarkable step change in the approach to regional prosperity.

‘The Spending Review on the 26 June could make the establishment of combined authorities for all of the country’s City Regions even more important as the chancellor is expected to announce the size of the funding being devolved locally, through the ‘single pots’ advocated in the Heseltine Report and accepted in principle in the spring’s Budget announcement.”

The West Yorkshire Councils will be asked in July to formally agree to the creation of the Combined Authority and submit their plans to Government. If the proposals are approved, the Combined Authority will start to meet in shadow form from September 2013, in advance of its anticipated formal establishment in April 2014.