Yorkshire sets out demands after Scottish promises

Leeds train station. PIC: James Hardisty
Leeds train station. PIC: James Hardisty
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BACKING for a “rapid transport system” connecting Leeds to other West Yorkshire cities and towns is expected to be in a list of demands presented to the Government in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum campaign.

Senior council figures in the region believe Westminster’s main parties will find it harder to resist calls for Yorkshire to have a much bigger say over its own affairs having promised to bolster the Scottish Parliament as the price to pay for saving the Union.

Greater control over local and business taxation, the end to tightly ring-fenced Government grants and freedom to take key decisions on transport and skills locally are all likely to feature in demands from West Yorkshire.

Separately, Leeds City Council is starting discussions with its neighbours to see if a new elected body is needed covering the Leeds City Region to make sure there are proper democratic controls over the way money is spent in the area.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the body bringing business councils together in the area, are working to develop proposals to present to Chancellor George Osborne in the coming weeks.

Mr Osborne has promised to set out significant plans in December to help grow the northern economy.

Combined Authority chairman coun Peter Box said: “To date, devolution in England has been on a piecemeal basis achieved by lobbying Whitehall for money and power for individual projects.

“With the Scottish referendum putting devolution in the spotlight it is important that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and our partners at the LEP make a strong case that answers the questions being posed by the three main political parties but on our own terms.”

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