The newly formed West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board has met digitally for the first time.
Formed at the end of April, the Board brings together civic and business leaders from across the region to lead West Yorkshire out of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the latest economic intelligence compiled by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority indicating that around 300,000 people in the region may have been furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Board discussed via Zoom the coordinated local leadership that will be vital to tackling the immediate issues presented by the pandemic and working towards a longer term recovery.
The Board agreed three priorities that will drive a targeted recovery plan for the region: developing resilient and thriving businesses, boosted by innovation, high skills and entrepreneurialism; developing an inclusive economy that provides people with a decent standard of living; and promoting environmental sustainability in all parts of the region.
Established by West Yorkshire’s five council leaders, the board brings together senior representatives from organisations that will be integral to the region’s recovery, including the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), all of the region’s chambers of commerce, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Integrated Healthcare Partnership, the Police and Crime Commissioner, plus trade unions, universities and the community sector.
Following the first Economic Recovery Board meeting, the five leaders of West Yorkshire’s councils (Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe – Bradford, Cllr Tim Swift – Calderdale, Cllr Shabir Pandor – Kirklees, Cllr Judith Blake – Leeds and Cllr Denise Jeffery – Wakefield) issued a joint statement:
“The economic impact of COVID-19 is like nothing any of us has experienced before and we thank all those who have joined our Economic Recovery Board and pledged their commitment to fight alongside us for the people and businesses of our region.
“Coordinated, local leadership will be vital to ensure that West Yorkshire emerges stronger from this crisis. Local government, business, public health, the police, utilities and transport all have a role to play in our economic recovery. By harnessing our collective resources and expertise, we can rebuild a stronger, fairer, more sustainable future for our people, businesses and communities.
“Our region faced longstanding challenges before this pandemic. Alongside the immediate need to safeguard the thousands of jobs and businesses affected by COVID-19, we must also use this crisis to build the kind of future to which the people of our region aspire.
“Working with our colleagues in the private sector, we must put in place the support to develop thriving, innovative businesses that will in turn create good quality jobs and give people a decent standard of living.
“We must also work with the Government, Transport for the North and transport operators to provide a clean, reliable transport network that enables businesses to resume trading and gives people the confidence to travel to work, school and healthcare safely.”
The Board will meet frequently to agree and implement an economic recovery plan for the region and provide a collective voice for the region to Government.