West Yorkshire public thanked for nation’s largest ever response to devolution consultation

Over 4,000 responses received to consultation on West Yorkshire Devolution Deal despite COVID-19 lockdown.

The West Yorkshire public have been thanked by leaders for their response to the consultation on the West Yorkshire devolution deal, which is the largest ever public consultation of its kind on English regional devolution.

In total, over 4,000 responses to the consultation were received, which ran from 25 May to 19 July. The high response was achieved despite lockdown being in place throughout the consultation period.

Due to these restrictions, the Combined Authority put in place a number of measures to raise awareness and make sure the consultation was as accessible as possible to all, including working with leading research agency Ipsos MORI to send postal copies of the survey to households that are less likely to be able to complete an online survey.

In a joint statement, West Yorkshire’s Council Leaders, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe (Bradford), Cllr Tim Swift (Calderdale), Cllr Shabir Pandor (Kirklees), Cllr Judith Blake (Leeds) and Cllr Denise Jeffery (Wakefield), said: “We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation - especially given the difficult circumstances.

“The consultation has helped us understand the issues that matter to the people of West Yorkshire and will inform our response to Government, as we look to progress this landmark West Yorkshire devolution deal.

“Devolution is an incredible opportunity for all of us. Alongside significant new spending, it means more decisions that affect the lives of people in West Yorkshire will be taken here by people who know and understand the region.”

The consultation was about the West Yorkshire ‘minded-to’ devolution deal signed between West Yorkshire leaders and the Government in March. It will see over £1.8 billion of funding come under local control, alongside an historic transfer of powers to the region, as well as a directly-elected West Yorkshire mayor, with elections to be held in May 2021.

The deal means decisions across key areas, such as better transport, skills, the economy, housing and regeneration will be taken in West Yorkshire, bringing benefits for rural and urban communities and improvements to people’s quality of life.

With a total of 4,114 responses, the West Yorkshire consultation is the largest ever public consultation on English regional devolution. In addition, over 140 individual questions were submitted, and responses from the Combined Authority will be published online where relevant.

The consultation asked respondents their views on the deal West Yorkshire council Leaders agreed with the Government in March 2020, and was run as an online survey on the Combined Authority’s YourVoice consultation and engagement website.

It is the critical first stage in the process that will pave the way for elections in May 2021, when the people of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield will be able to vote for the first ever West Yorkshire Mayor.

The results of the public consultation will be considered by West Yorkshire partner councils and the Combined Authority later in the summer, and then submitted to the Government as part of the parliamentary process to establishing a mayoral combined authority for the region. The draft order is expected to be presented to parliament later in the year, and the final bill will hopefully be passed into legislation in December 2020.

Due to social distancing, meaning face-to-face consultations were not possible, Ipsos Mori was commissioned as consultation experts to manage a postal survey of 2,000 ‘digitally disadvantaged’ households across West Yorkshire, as well as to provide independent analysis of the consultation responses.

The Consultation Institute was also commissioned to provide independent quality assurance of the consultation process, ensuring it was as open and accessible as possible.