Devolution deal to be submitted

Coun Peter Box
Coun Peter Box

Council leaders have agreed on a controversial devolution plan which would see West Yorkshire team up with four neighbours to take greater control over its own affairs.

Leaders from Wakefield, Kirklees, Leeds, Calderdale and Bradford councils will submit a devolution bid to the government by Friday’s deadline, based on a “Leeds City Region geography”.

The plan replaces an earlier proposal to form a “Greater Yorkshire” bid bringing together West Yorkshire, the whole of North Yorkshire, the East Riding and Hull to take powers from Whitehall.

The new plan also covers the North Yorkshire districts of Craven, Harrogate, Selby and the City of York.

The bid was confirmed following a meeting on Wednesday with Treasury Minister Lord O’Neill.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box 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.”

Councillors say the Leeds City Region represents the “functional economic area” – the way that businesses operate and people travel to work.

The deal is likely to see an elected “metro-mayor” who would represent the whole district.

Voters in Wakefield rejected city mayors in 2012 - but the government has said that another election is a condition of granting devolved powers.

The combined Leeds region represents the UK’s largest city region economy outside London, with a population of 2.8 million.