Government endorsement of Combined Authority unlocks £150 million funding boost for West Yorkshire
Key Government review unlocks a further £150 million over five years to invest in transport improvements across West Yorkshire
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has received a ringing endorsement from Government for its transport investments over the past five years through the confirmation that a further £150 million is being granted to the organisation to continue its vital work improving the region’s transport network.
The Combined Authority has successfully passed a “gateway review” looking at how it has invested over £180 million over the past five years in improvements through its West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund. The review considered decision making processes, delivery and value for money. As a result, Government has unlocked a further £150 million which will be invested from 2021 – 2026 to improve public transport, cycle and walking routes in West Yorkshire, as well as reduce congestion and air pollution.
This funding is in addition to the Transforming Cities Fund, a £317 million package of investment secured by West Yorkshire’s council Leaders as part of the landmark devolution deal, agreed with Government in March 2020.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said:
“We welcome this strong endorsement, which shows that the Combined Authority is investing public money wisely. By delivering schemes like new rail stations, park and ride facilities and improved cycle paths, we are making a real difference to people’s quality of life.
“We have made excellent progress over the past five years, thanks to the investment we have been able to make into our communities through the Growth Deal, and we will be building on this as we deliver the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal. Given the times we are living through, such investment is needed more than ever.”
Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said:
“The role the LEP played in unlocking this significant funding shows what great things we can do when we work in partnership, and partnership working will be absolutely vital in our response to Covid-19.
“As we phase out of lockdown, our support must include robust plans to kick-start our region’s economic recovery and help businesses bounce back as quickly as we can, while remaining safe and secure, so we can build an even more vibrant, successful region.”
Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said:
“Covid-19 is the greatest challenge most of us have seen during our lifetimes. The significant extra funding we have been able to unlock means we can continue to invest and support our region’s economy with better access to safe public transport and more space for people to walk and cycle as they return to work.”
Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council and Chair of the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee, which oversees infrastructure investment decisions, said:
“These investments in our region’s transport infrastructure are a vital part of our efforts to support jobs, growth and skills and will prove even more valuable as we help the region recover as quickly and as strongly as possible from the devastating impact of Covid-19.”
In its first five years, the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund has supported 54 projects, investing over £127 million in improved transport infrastructure.
Schemes the Combined Authority and partner councils have delivered as a result include three new rail stations – Apperley Bridge and Low Moor in Bradford, and Kirkstall Forge in Leeds – as well as major road improvements and significant new Park & Ride schemes. The 1,000-space Temple Green Park & Ride in Leeds, for example, has helped increase bus passenger numbers, reduce journey times, traffic volumes and demand for parking spaces in Leeds City Centre.
Over the 20-year lifespan of the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, the Combined Authority will invest £1 billion across the region to support the creation of 18,000 additional jobs and boost the region’s economy by £1.2 billion a year by 2036.
The new funding – together with the £317 million Transforming Cities Fund transport investment confirmed through the West Yorkshire devolution deal – will see schemes such as Castleford station gateway, Hard Ings Road in Keighley, Mytholmroyd car park and East Leeds Orbital route (ELOR) get the green light.
Members of the Combined Authority’s Transport Committee today discussed plans for the first £11.8 million of this funding to develop new, transformational infrastructure, including trial measures to create space for more people to travel by bike or on foot and support social distancing for people accessing public transport hubs.
It will improve journeys by bus, rail, bike and on foot for up to 1.5 million people, providing them with an accessible, affordable and attractive alternative to the car, which will be vital under new Government guidelines for safe travel as a result of Covid-19.
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:
“Through the Transforming Cities Fund programme, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners across the region aim to boost public transport, build high quality infrastructure for people to travel by bike or on foot, helping our recovery from the pandemic and addressing the climate crisis over the longer term.”
Apperley Bridge station - growing from strength to strength
Apperley Bridge station was West Yorkshire’s first new railway station for 10 years when it was opened in December 2015, proving an immediate hit with commuters and being used by over 370,000 passengers in its first year.
It opened with a 297-space car park, a pickup/drop off point and fully accessible platforms with staircases and ramps, as well as being served by a bus service and offering secure cycle parking and waiting shelters.
There are plans to create up to 300 additional spaces as part of the Combined Authority’s £30.5 million Rail Park and Ride Programme, with investment provided through the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund.