Almost £320m boosts business and creates jobs. says report

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Susan Hinchcliffe

Investment of almost £320m by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, working in partnership with the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, has made a positive difference to the region’s economy and transport network over the past year.

It has supported businesses, created skilled jobs and apprenticeships, improved local transport links and reduced air pollution, says the LEP.

As a result of investment by the Combined Authority and the LEP, 17 major transport schemes have been delivered including the congestion-busting Wakefield Eastern relief road, new Park and Ride facilities which have taken 9,000 car out of Leeds City Centre, and a £2.7 million package to improve walking and cycling routes along our region’s canals.

Support from the LEP-funded Resource Efficiency Fund enabled businesses in the Leeds City Region to save enough energy to make 72 million cups of tea in 2018/19.

A project funded by the Leeds City Region Growth Deal to help people reduce their heating bills, Better Homes Yorkshire, has already saved 117,000 tonnes of carbon.

More than 1,900 jobs were brought to the City Region though trade and investment activity by the LEP – including the announcement of the new Channel 4 national headquarters.

The 2019/20 Corporate Plan outlines projects and strategies that will be put into place by the Combined Authority and the LEP over the next 12 months including investing £60 million in transport improvements around the Leeds City Region to ease congestion and attracting global investors to create 1,700 new jobs.

The Combined Authority operates the Metro network of bus stations, travel centres and public transport information across West Yorkshire. Last year 9,000 cars a week were taken out of Leeds City Centre as a result of improved Park and Ride services at Elland Road and Temple Green.

To enable even more people to leave their cars at home, plans are being developed to build new railway stations at Elland, Leeds Bradford Airport, the White Rose shopping centre and Thorpe Park, working closely with the Combined Authority’s partners and local communities.

Around 18,000 disadvantaged students will be supported with skills training and advice, and almost 6,000 homes and businesses will be connected to super-fast broadband to improve the region’s digital connectivity.

Following the launch of the Leeds City Region Climate Coalition on July 10th, the Combined Authority and the LEP will continue to work with partners across the public, private and third sectors to become a net zero carbon economy by 2038.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “This year’s Corporate Plan reflects the significant progress we have made in achieving our vision of creating a strong, successful economy where everyone can really feel the benefits.

“Skilled people are the lifeblood of our economy and I’m extremely proud to have established the national Future-Ready Skills Commission earlier this year which will create a blue-print for skills that can be adopted throughout the UK. This is just one of the ways we’re making a real difference to peoples’ lives and creating lasting and sustainable improvements which we can build on in years to come.”

Key priorities for the next 12 months will be maximising the opportunities created by Channel 4’s relocation to the Leeds City Region, creating 800 new apprenticeships and supporting businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, energy use and water consumption.

Roger Marsh Chair of the LEP, said: “Channel 4 coming to the Leeds City Region represents a truly a once-in-a-generation chance to rapidly grow our digital and creative sector, unlock opportunities for our talented young people and draw international attention to our region.

“Last year we celebrated the highest level of investment from overseas firms in Yorkshire since the recession with £1.9 billion of deals which is something we will continue to build on throughout 2019 and into 2020.

“We are committed to being the most transparent LEP in the country and over the past year have taken a number of measures to fulfil this commitment, including holding all of our LEP meetings in public.”

Throughout 2019/20, the Combined Authority and the LEP will continue to lobby the Government for reform of the rail and bus industry through its partnerships with Transport for the North and Northern Powerhouse Rail.