New leader ‘will broker a Yorkshire devolution deal by end of year’

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The newly elected chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority has pledged to help broker a “meaningful” county-wide devolution deal with Ministers by the end of the year – but promised to be “pragmatic and flexible with the Government” in doing so.

The combined authority – made up of the five West Yorkshire councils and York – has elected Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe to lead it.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe

It follows the departure of former chair Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, who is moving on to head the national Key Cities group.

The announcement of her chairmanship comes just days after a “coalition of the willing” of council leaders launched a renewed drive to secure a single Yorkshire-wide devolution deal.

Coun Hinchcliffe said last night: “We aim for a resolution with Government before the end of 2017.

“This will require a meaningful devolution deal with Government that would see our region treated the same as the rest of the country.

“We will continue to be pragmatic and flexible with Government, and prepared to work with colleagues across Yorkshire to advance a deal that will bring more investment into our region and ensure decisions are taken in the best interests of the people and communities we serve.”

Coun Hinchcliffe said the authority, which makes transport decisions and aims to help business growth, had achieved “a huge amount to benefit West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region” under Coun Box.

“My aim as the incoming chair is to build on this partnership progress and to realise the full extent of our shared vision for a strong, successful and socially inclusive economy,” she said.

“Alongside this, we will continue to focus on delivering our £1bn-plus programme of major transport, regeneration, skills and business growth investment that will create jobs and economic opportunity.”

Coun Hinchcliffe has been chair of the authority’s Investment Committee, as well as its lead for employment and skills, since May 2016.

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