Yorkshire £100 million bid to secure 7,000 jobs EXCLUSIVE

Council bosses are hoping to win £100m for a series of flagship projects that will boost the regional economy and create or safeguard over 7,000 jobs.

The Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership (LEP) has submitted a bid for the cash to the Government's new regional growth fund.

The grant could lever in a further 480m of private sector money and would be used to support 15 projects.

They include:

* New roads and other infrastructure to open up a major employment site in the Aire Valley in Leeds, potentially creating thousands of jobs;

* A major new bus and rail interchange for Castleford;

* Bringing empty private sector homes in Kirklees back into use;

* Redeveloping the former Prince of Wales colliery site in Pontefract;

* Let's Grow Small Business – a scheme to create 500 new businesses and support the growth of over 1,000 existing firms.

Other schemes focus on the expansion of green technologies, support for the financial and business services industry, help for social enterprises, new homes and job creation in south-east Wakefield and developing a new commercial core in Bradford city centre.

Businesses and the LEP worked together to develop the schemes submitted in round one of the bidding process. They are now planning to put forward more proposals under round two.

The 1.4 billion regional growth fund is open to projects led either by private sector or private/public partnerships to support the creation of private sector jobs, particularly in communities currently dependent on the public sector for employment.

The LEP has been established to promote the Leeds City Region economy following the government's decision to scrap Yorkshire Forward and other development agencies.

To be formally launched in April and chaired by Neil McLean, of legal firm DLA Piper, the partnership's newly-formed board includes business leaders and senior councillors.

Mr McLean said: "Setting up the board is the first important step towards establishing the new partnership. We've had an overwhelming response from businesses keen to get involved and support this initiative."

The Leeds City Region brings together 11 local authorities - Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York and North Yorkshire County Council - to work with businesses and other partners to support economic growth.

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