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"We can be in pole position for devolution" new Combined Authority Chair tells Yorkshire Post

After the annoucement that she is taking over the role of Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe has set out her ambitions for the organisation in this week's Life in Politics in the Yorkshire Post.

Cllr Hinchcliffe writes:

It’s great to be asked to Chair the Combined Authority, a real honour. As Leader of Bradford Council, I know there is a huge amount of opportunity in our region. I want to make sure we are in pole position to make the most of those opportunities.

In the three years since it was established West Yorkshire Combined Authority has, under Cllr Box’s leadership, achieved a huge amount from a standing start. This has included securing, with the LEP, the largest City Region Growth Deal outside London and setting up the £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund for projects that support the economy, job creation and house-building as well as reducing congestion and improving air quality.

Over 1,300 new jobs

In the past 12 months alone we have invested £270 million in services and projects to benefit local people and businesses. We have opened new rail stations at Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor, invested £114 million in transport services and supported small and medium-sized businesses through £10m worth of grants, which has led to the creation of over 1,300 new jobs.

Two major West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund schemes, Wakefield Eastern Relief Road and Temple Green park and ride, have been delivered and we are investing £100 million of Growth Deal funding in rail stations, highways and other transport measures. We will also be providing £18 million to support bus services to ensure vital links are maintained for individuals and communities.

Prosperity

The Combined Authority will continue to focus on transforming our region through long-term policies designed to have the biggest impact on prosperity and create a strong, successful regional economy in which everyone can benefit through inclusive growth
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By March 2018, we will create over 1,500 new jobs and safeguard another 500 by helping businesses expand, and attracting new investment to the region.

Although I am taking on the role of Combined Authority Chair, I am also keen to retain my current lead for the region on skills, which as Council Leader for the UK’s youngest city, Bradford, is a particular interest of mine. We are committed to creating new apprenticeship and training opportunities for young people and over the next year, will be supporting 6,000 pupils from deprived areas to improve their skills and career prospects through enterprise, employability and careers activity.

Pioneering partnership

Just last month we announced a pioneering partnership with West Yorkshire’s colleges aligning college training provision with the Leeds City Region economy’s requirements, the first scheme of its kind in the UK.

We’ve shown through the programmes we initiate and run here that we can provide better outcomes than a one-size fits all approach nationally. Whether it’s getting young people into education and training, developing new housing or reducing reliance on government grants, we have delivered up to three times faster and had double the impact of national programmes. As my predecessor Cllr Box told the Yorkshire Post in the early days of the Combined Authority, ‘Devolution works and we have the figures in the Leeds City Region that prove it’.

Securing a meaningful devolution deal with government remains a top priority. I am pleased that on Yorkshire Day, fellow Yorkshire Leaders and I were able to confirm we are united in the common cause of working towards securing a single ambitious devolution deal. The county is big enough and bold enough to want to carve out its own destiny and it’s high time now that we get the opportunity to do so.

Cllr Hinchliffe was elected as Chair at the Combined Authority's meeting on Thursday 3 August.

Previous Chair, Cllr Peter Box announced he was stepping down from his role as Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority to concentrate on his new position chairing of the national, Key Cities Group.

 

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