Wakefield Council Leader supports devolution bid

​Date: 02/09/2015
Ref: PR 5047

Wakefield Council's Leader, Cllr Peter Box, has today confirmed that the region's Council leaders are to submit a bid for devolution this Friday (4 September).

Alongside the neighbouring Council Leaders, Cllr Box has confirmed that his preferred option is based on the Leeds City Region geography being the right footprint for a devolution deal.

Covering the West Yorkshire districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield plus the North Yorkshire districts of Craven, Harrogate, Selby and the City of York, this economic area represents the UK's largest city region economy outside London.

Councillor Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council said: "We had a constructive meeting with leaders of neighbouring councils and Lord O'Neill ahead of us submitting to government an ambitious devolution proposal that will mean better infrastructure, jobs and housing.

"I firmly believe that devolution based on the Leeds City Region is the best way forward for our district because it is already a functional economic area – in the way that businesses operate and people travel to work.

"A devolution deal covering the City Region geography would build on over a decade of economic collaboration and partnership between local councils and businesses. We have already created significant growth and jobs – bringing a boost to our local district and the city region as a whole."

The Leeds City Region generates £57.7bn of economic output and has a population of 2.8m, over 92% of whom also work within its area, but is sufficiently focused not to require the creation of new bodies and governance structures.

This includes the £1.6 billion Growth Deal secured last year through Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – the largest such deal in the country.

Along with the preferred footprint, council leaders will submit a set of devolution 'asks' to transform the City Region economy, focusing on areas such as transport, housing, business support, skills and new powers to generate investment for major infrastructure projects.

In exchange for the devolution of these radical powers to enable local economies to thrive, the government has made clear it will insist on the introduction of an elected metro-mayor.

Although people in Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield voted against mayors in in 2012, the leaders agree the potential benefits are now so substantial they have a duty to residents to give it serious consideration. However, they are making clear that they will not stand for the government using devolution to impose a mayor while keeping the real power in Whitehall or simply devolve the task and responsibility for implementing austerity measures.

The proposals are being submitted this week to meet the government's Friday 4 September deadline.