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Council Leaders' letter urges Transport Secretary to help secure devolution deal.

Nick Forbes Leader of Newcastle City Council, Judith Blake Leader of Leeds City Council, Steve Rotheram Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Susan Hinchcliffe Leader of Bradford and Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority & Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester.West Yorkshire’s Council leaders have written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling urging him to help them negotiate a devolution deal for Yorkshire that would give the region the powers and investment put its own transport solutions in place.

In the letter, Cllrs Susan Hinchcliffe, Tim Swift, David Sheard, Judith Blake and Peter Box say they are focused on reducing the productivity gap between the north and other regions and identify transport investment as the most important contributor to economic success. The North’s transport infrastructure, they write, needs to be brought “up to the level required by a well-functioning and competitive modern economy.”

Influence

They say the Combined Authority’s existing £1bn West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund gain-share arrangement with Government is an important step towards devolved funding and decision-making. But they asks Mr Grayling to use his influence in government to help unlock a devolution deal that will give all parts of Yorkshire the tools to take control of transport priorities.

And they warn that the current funding imbalance, which sees the capital benefit from more than 10 times the transport investment that the North “is clearly not in the national interest”.

Jobs & growth

The letter was sent to Mr Grayling the day after the Northern Transport Summit, in Leeds, at which the overriding message from politicians and business leaders was that the North needs the Government’s commitment to reversing the legacy of under-investment by successive governments that is holding back jobs and growth.

The Leaders conclude the letter to Mr Grayling by calling for a meeting with him at his earliest convenience to “discuss practical ways of working with Government to see the ambitions set out at the Northern Transport Summit can move towards reality”.

Empower

More than 30 of Yorkshire’s Labour MPs, , along with Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, and Sir Kevin Barron, the chairman of the Yorkshire and Humber Parliamentary Labour Group, have also written to Chris Grayling telling the Transport Secretary he must now look to “empower” the region.

In the letter, which calls for Mr Grayling to confirm the electrification of the trans-Pennine railway line, the MPS write, “Give us the investment, give us devolution, empower the north and we will deliver transport fit for the 21st century”.

Transport Summit for the North - Combined Authority speaks out.


 

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