£1.8bn devolution deal secured for the district
An ambitious £1.8bn West Yorkshire devolution deal, the biggest ever of its kind, is set to unlock decades of significant investment for the Wakefield district.
The deal announced in today's Budget will ensure that Wakefield residents benefit from improvement to transport across the district, improved skills and stronger businesses, while tackling the climate emergency.
Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "I am absolutely delighted to secure this deal for the district, our communities and our residents. It will support our city and towns to thrive, improve our local transport, give our young people the skills and opportunities they need to succeed and help our economy to grow.
"I made a promise to local people and elected members that any devolution agreement needs to work for the Wakefield district and everyone who lives and works here. From the very start as Leader, I have been determined to get the best deal for Wakefield to ensure that we receive a significant share and that we stand as equals, alongside other areas in West Yorkshire.
"That is why I am incredibly proud to have been instrumental in making sure that the deal recognises all areas fairly – and is rightly named the West Yorkshire devolution deal."
Key investment includes:
- £38m per year for 30 years into West Yorkshire Investment Fund with significant freedoms to spend on local priorities
- Government commitment to work with West Yorkshire to develop modern mass transit system through access to a new five-year integrated transport settlement
- £317m to invest in public transport, cycling and walking through Transforming Cities Fund with local flexibility on delivery
- Control of the £63m annual Adult Education Budget for West Yorkshire
- £3.2m to support the development of a pipeline of housing sites across West Yorkshire.
- £200,000 Government funding for collaboration at a Yorkshire-level through the Yorkshire Leaders Board.
As part of the deal, the Wakefield district will benefit from:
- A package of measures to transform Wakefield City Centre including removal of traffic in the Northern and Civic Quarters and improved cycling infrastructure
- Measures to reduce congestion, improve journey times and access employment sites on the A639 to benefit the Five Towns including bus priority measures, a bus hub at Glasshoughton and pedestrian and cycle improvements at Pontefract Horsefair.
- Improvements to public transport on the A61 including new bus lanes and accessible bus stops as well as additional cycling facilities to create better access to Outwood and Sandal and Agbrigg Rail Station.
The deal will see the creation of a West Yorkshire Mayor, to be elected in May 2021. By becoming a devolved Mayoral area, the Wakefield district is best placed to access future funding and powers.
Cllr Jeffery added: "Although a Mayor won't be in place until next year, it is key to the deal that we will be treated as a mayoral authority straight away – ensuring that there is no delay in accessing all the benefits of the devolution deal immediately. It will give us greater decision-making powers on issues that affect our local communities, without seeking Government permission."
Today's agreement follows extensive negotiations between all West Yorkshire Councils, the Government and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
In the coming weeks, a consultation process will begin to gather the views of residents and businesses and formal ratification of the deal will need to take place with all councils involved.