Wednesday, September 23, 2020

West Yorks devolution deal enters final stages in Parliament

Approval to kickstart the parliamentary process that will deliver the West Yorkshire devolution deal has been given by all five councils and the Combined Authority.

Councils and the Combined Authority have all held public meetings over the past ten days to consider the findings from a public consultation on the deal, and gave their consent to submit a summary of consultation responses to the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government, Robert Jenrick.

The Government will now begin the Parliamentary process to cement the devolution deal in law.

Kirklees Council was the final council to give its consent at a full council meeting yesterday, following endorsements by Bradford, Calderdale, Leeds and Wakefield councils, plus the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

This confirmed the unanimous support from councils in the region for the deal to progress to Parliament, with voters set to elect the first West Yorkshire Mayor in May 2021.

These meetings were in line with feedback from over 4,400 West Yorkshire residents who participated in the public consultation on the deal.

The majority of respondents supported the proposals to establish a directly elected Mayor for the region with responsibility for key areas, such as transport improvements, adult education and skills, housing and regeneration and economic recovery from COVID-19.

The devolution deal, which West Yorkshire’s five council leaders agreed with the Government in March 2020, will bring at least an additional £1.8 billion public investment to the region over the next 30 years, plus greater freedoms to take decisions locally on the issues that affect communities.

Extra investment is already coming to the region ahead of the deal becoming law and the region has joined the M9 group of mayoral combined authorities, giving it stronger national influence alongside the other elected mayors in England.

The new investment will build on more than 15 years of successful partnership working between West Yorkshire councils and the wider Leeds City Region, which includes securing the £1.2 billion local enterprise partnership (LEP) Growth Deal, – the country’s largest – establishing a £1 billion Transport Fund to deliver local transport improvements in West Yorkshire and York, and supporting businesses in the region through the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing close to £500 million of government grants.

“Our West Yorkshire councils have now consulted on the mayoral devolution deal, and submitted the findings to Government,” said West Yorkshire’s five council leaders, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe (Bradford), Cllr Tim Swift (Calderdale), Cllr Shabir Pandor (Kirklees), Cllr Judith Blake (Leeds) and Cllr Denise Jeffery (Wakefield) in a statement.

“We are pleased that it has the backing  from our respective councils and the large majority of those who responded to our public consultation. It is now over to the Government to prepare the draft legislation.

“Our local areas are already seeing the benefits of the deal through the early funding we’ve secured to develop brownfield sites for housing, deliver much-needed transport improvements and support people to develop the skills to find good work in a challenging job market.

“COVID-19 has highlighted just how crucial it is that decisions which affect local communities are taken by people who know and understand those communities, supported by the investment to deliver on local priorities.

“This deal is the critical starting point to ensuring West Yorkshire is able to make the strongest possible recovery from this crisis and prosper in future.”

Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, will use the consultation findings to decide whether the devolution proposals reflect the interests and identities of West Yorkshire’s communities.

If agreed, a legal document known as an “order” will be produced, setting out how the powers and functions of the Mayor and mayoral combined authority will operate.

West Yorkshire’s councils will be asked to give their consent to this order in November 2020, with mayoral elections due to take place in May 2021.

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