Last chance to make your voice heard in country’s largest devolution consultation

People from communities across West Yorkshire urged to have their say in consultation on devolution deal, which closes on 19 July

With just over a week to go before the consultation on West Yorkshire’s landmark devolution deal closes, members of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board are urging people from across the region to take advantage of the opportunity to have their say. 

Close to 3,000 people have so far taken part in the consultation, making it already the largest ever public consultation on English regional devolution.  

The consultation is an important part of the legal process that would see voters elect the first ever metro mayor for West Yorkshire in May 2021. The Mayor would have access to investment totalling at least £1.8 billion over the next 30 years, with the freedom to spend this on the issues that matter most to local people – such as public transport improvements, adult skills and training, and supporting the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19. 

This devolved investment will benefit communities across the region, for example through direct funding for local colleges to provide the skills that adults need to retrain and access jobs in a post-pandemic economy, and for local projects such as £500,000 commitment for Bradford to develop a masterplan to maximise the regeneration opportunities of Northern Powerhouse Rail for the city. 

Two members of the LEP Board – Kate Hainsworth, CEO of the Leeds Community Foundation, and Amir Hussain, CEO of Bradford-based Yeme Architects, spoke about the importance of people from all communities making their voices heard as part of these historic changes to the way decisions are taken in the region. 

Kate, who is also the LEP’s diversity champion, said:  

“Already the response to the devolution consultation is amazing, and highlights just how enthusiastic people in West Yorkshire are about the opportunity devolution brings to take decisions closer to the communities affected by them, by people who know and love the region. 

“Ours is a diverse region: that’s a big part of what makes us so great. We have nurtured a range of experiences and talent from across the world to become uniquely authentic to this part of Yorkshire. It’s important that the response to the consultation reflects these diverse voices. With just over a week to go before the consultation closes, I urge as many as possible - people and communities - from across the region take a few minutes to make their voice heard loud and clear.” 

Amir, who is a keen supporter of grassroots community engagement and has extensive contacts within Yorkshire’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) small and medium (SME) business sector added: 

“One in nine company directors in our region is from a minority ethnic background and BAME-owned businesses contribute massively to our region’s economic success.  

With devolution likely to make a huge positive difference for businesses in the region – especially as we recover from the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 – I hope that those business owners will have their say and help ensure that the vibrancy and entrepreneurial zeal of our diverse business community is unleashed by the new investment, decision-making powers and stronger national voice that are coming to the region. 

“The deal is great news for communities too, and I’m delighted that Bradford in particular will benefit from the £500,000 commitment to develop a masterplan to ensure the city and surrounding area sees maximum opportunity from Northern Powerhouse Rail. 

The West Yorkshire devolution consultation is open until 19 July 2020.  

People from across the region can have their say in a number of ways: 

The devolution deal was agreed between West Yorkshire’s council leaders and the Government on 11 March 2020.  

Responses to the consultation will be independently analysed by leading research firm Ipsos MORI and considered by the councils of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority over the summer.  

Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the legal process to pave the way for the election of a Mayor in May 2021 will begin in September.