Over £150m invested in year of success for West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Reflecting on 2018, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Across 2018, the Combined Authority has invested over �150m in supporting businesses, improving transport, investing in skills and attracting jobs.

We have continued to invest in growing businesses and in 2018 we reached an exciting milestone, supporting over 10,000 businesses to grow since April 2015. Businesses have benefitted from investment totalling �34m to upskill their staff, fit out new premises, take on apprentices and save money on energy bills.

Our success in persuading Channel 4 to open their new headquarters here underlines the economic vitality of our region. Our region�s diversity and creativity was one of the critical factors in their decision and I am excited that our talented young people will enjoy access to a wealth of new opportunities from this success. Channel 4�s move is forecast to help create 1,200 jobs and deliver a �1bn economic impact over the next decade. We will be working together as a region to ensure our people and businesses are properly equipped for the exciting future that lies ahead.

As a Combined Authority we are also aware of how important transport is to better connect our communities, and this year we saw further evidence of the difference our investment is making. Recent figures for the new railway stations we have supported with �26.7m - Apperley Bridge, Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor� showed 655,710 passengers used these stations over a 12 month period.

Our tendered bus services continue to provide a lifeline for communities and we�ve invested �18m providing vital services to areas that wouldn�t otherwise have been served. In 2018, our tendered services operated over 7.9 million miles and over 1 million trips. We also provide 33 access buses which help older and disabled people live more independent lives and these have provided over 445,000 journeys

As we continue to invest locally, we continue to make the case for Government support for major projects which will help improve our connections to the rest of the country, including the delivery of HS2, upgrade of the trans-Pennine route and Northern Powerhouse Rail with a city centre station in Bradford. The investment in this infrastructure could create thousands of jobs, support the regeneration of key sites and help the region become a centre of excellence in rail skills.

Our continued success is an essential ingredient of our argument for future funding certainty. I am very pleased that activity funded by our �1bn Growth Deal has created or safeguarded 27,500 jobs so far. However, with only three more years of Growth Deal funding left, we will continue to press Government for further devolution and a long-term funding settlement post-Brexit.

Heading into the New Year the Combined Authority will continue to work in partnership to maximise the opportunities for our region and make the positive case for future major investment that will benefit all of our communities and the UK as a whole.