LEP calls for transport investment in Leeds City Region

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has backed calls for the region to receive a substantial share of transport investment through the Government's £860m Transforming Cities Fund.

Private sector businesses and industry bodies including the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Institute of Directors (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."

Sara Gilmore, Chair of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce's transport group, which also supported the bid, added: "The Chamber supports the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's bid to the Transforming Cities Fund.

"Funding to better connect people to jobs, to maximise and spread the economic impact and benefits of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail and to create a healthier environment for commuters would be greatly welcomed, particularly in light of years of under-investment in the local networks."

Jon Geldart, Chair of the Institute of Directors 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, said: “Modern, efficient transport links are critical for businesses 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.

The submission does not set out detailed plans at this stage. These will be developed as part of the next stage of bidding if the Combined Authority's first-stage submission is successful. Discussions are already taking place with bus operators over the potential for them to invest alongside money secured from the Government.