Leeds City Region Commit to Build on What Works

West Yorkshire council and business leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing a devolution deal with government for the Leeds City Region ahead of a larger geography.

A devolution proposal including all of North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside but not South Yorkshire has been mooted, but West Yorkshire's five council leaders agreed that a city region deal remains the best way of achieving economic benefits for local communities, residents and businesses.

The Leeds City Region covers all of West Yorkshire along with York and the North Yorkshire districts of Harrogate, Craven and Selby.

Leaders maintained the view that the case in favour of a city region approach is "irrefutable". This view was based on a number of factors including the scale of the city region economy as the UK's largest economic centre outside of London, the track record of effective partnership working between city region councils and businesses over a decade, and the strong economic rationale for working at this level.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:

"Government has made clear that this devolution process is about the economy and the economic evidence demonstrates overwhelmingly that the city region – as the economic heart of Yorkshire – is the right geography to deliver on our huge ambitions to transform our economy for the benefit of millions of local people."

Roger Marsh Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said; added:

"I've always been clear that the purpose of devolution is not to create new governance structures, it's to create better economic outcomes for our city region and its citizens – enabling us to realise our ambitious plan for extraordinary economic growth quicker, for the benefit of the North and indeed the country. 

"As a businessman, my approach is to build on what works, and our city region partnerships clearly work. There is an exceptional level of trust and collaboration between our civic leaders and between the public and private sectors, which has enabled us to achieve great things already – not least the country's largest Growth Deal, agreed with government last summer."

The West Yorkshire Leaders submitted a devolution proposal to government on 4 September, setting out a series of 27 asks to achieve the transformative ambitions of the Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan.

These asks include greater powers to raise and direct funding towards those areas that would have the biggest impact on economic growth and people's lives, such as major transport and infrastructure schemes, housing and regeneration developments, and support for skills and business growth.

Discussions are continuing with the Treasury about a potential devolution deal based on these asks.