West Yorkshire £1.8bn devolution deal agreed

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West Yorkshire's 2.3 million people will have a directly-elected mayor from May 2021

West Yorkshire is to get its own elected mayor, unlocking an expected £1.8bn in investment for the area, the Chancellor has confirmed in the Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in the statement a "minded-to" agreement was reached after months of negotiations between council leaders and ministers.

The mayor will oversee policies such as transport and housing, working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

West Yorkshire leaders said it would give the area "greater flexibility".

In a statement the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said: "This deal will give us greater flexibility to take decisions to address local concerns without asking permission from Whitehall and Westminster.

"That will include the ability to intervene more directly in local transport and in the operation of local bus services."

The West Yorkshire deal comes after local authorities from the whole of Yorkshire were told the government would not support a "One Yorkshire" plan in 2019.

That idea was backed by 18 of the 20 council's in the regions, with only Sheffield and Rotherham preferring to stick with the already agreed deal for the Sheffield City Region.

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What is in the deal:

  • £38m a year for 30 years into the West Yorkshire Investment Fund with significant freedoms to spend on local priorities.
  • Government commitment to work with West Yorkshire to develop modern mass-transit system through access to a new five-year integrated transport settlement.
  • £317m to invest in public transport, cycling and walking through Transforming Cities Fund with local flexibility on delivery.
  • A £25m fund to support the development of a British Library North in Leeds.
  • Control of the £63m annual Adult Education Budget for West Yorkshire.
  • £500,000 of government funding to support masterplanning in Bradford city centre to maximise regeneration opportunities from Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Funding for the next stage of the development of the outline business case for the Leeds railway station redevelopment.
  • £3.2m to support the development of a pipeline of housing sites across West Yorkshire.
  • £200,000 government funding for collaboration at a Yorkshire-level through the Yorkshire Leaders Board.

Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said: "We have been working on this for a long time - we have always said we want to stick out and that we would get the deal that reflects our needs and ambitions.

"Getting the biggest deal in the country has been worth holding out for."

The deal will be put before each of the five local authorities - Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees - for approval and will be the subject of a public consultation.

If signed off by the councils it is expected elections for the region's first mayor would take place in May 2021.

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