The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has backed calls for the region to receive a substantial share of transport investment through the Government’s £860 million Transforming Cities Fund.
Private sector businesses and industry bodies including the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, CBI and IoD Yorkshire and Humber have also added their support to the Leeds City Region bid.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority submitted a first-stage bid last Friday, aiming to secure significant investment to upgrade the City Region’s transport network.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “Transport is consistently cited by businesses in our region as one of the most important drivers of growth, and the chaos that has affected Northern Rail passengers in recent weeks has made the case for increased investment in the North’s transport network clearer than ever.
“The LEP Board fully endorses the Combined Authority’s ambitious submission to the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund. Leeds City Region is the biggest economic area in the North and is at the geographic centre of its transport network, connecting the east and west of the country.
“Investment here would not just be transformative for those communities most in need of reliable, affordable local transport to access jobs and economic opportunity; it would also have a ripple effect across the whole of the North.”
Jon Geldart, Chair of the IoD Yorkshire & Humber, said: “The development of the Northern Powerhouse relies on each of its component parts having the right infrastructure.
“Without access to high speed digital internet, well maintained roads and an integrated, fast and efficient rail system, the region won’t have a sustainable economic future.
“Underinvestment has left gaping holes which urgently need filling with careful, targeted planning such as that proposed.”
Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire and Humber Regional Director, added: “Modern, efficient transport links are critical for business to thrive.
“As a region with a core city at its heart, which is home to over 120,000 businesses, it is vital that Leeds City Region gets its full share of transport investment to ensure that businesses both within the region and those across the wider Northern Powerhouse are as productive and competitive as possible, with easy access to supply chains and a large pool of skilled workers.”
The bid submitted to Government last Friday is the first in a two-stage process to secure funding. The LEP Board and private sector played a key role in shaping the final submission alongside local councils.
The submission sets out proposals to improve public transport along four key routes in the City Region and upgrade connections to eight rail stations.
“It has a particular focus on supporting economic growth and access to jobs, education and vital services in the communities that need it most.
Cutting harmful emissions and investing in new technologies to make it easier and more affordable to travel around the region are also central to the proposals.