Five priorities that must be addressed for Leeds after the election

Today the Yorkshire Evening Post lays its cards on the table and calls the shots to the many politicians who are set to descend on the city in the coming weeks ahead of the General Election.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 6:00 am

As they head out on the campaign trails we are today calling on the new government to make these five key topics a priority for the city of Leeds.

These are the everyday issues that need to be radically addressed and supported in order to ensure that the city and its 800,000 residents can continue to prosper.

Our display of action comes just days after leaders from across the north of England sent a manifesto to Westminster in a call to ensure that this region doesn’t get left behind.

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The city skyline encompasses the growth and boom of Leeds but there is a second story.

Among the issues that your YEP is set to shine a spotlight on in the coming days as part of a week-long special series of reports are transport; social inequality; education; health and how to ensure our city’s burgeoning tech sector continues to develop.

Speaking to the YEP Leeds City Council leader, Judith Blake said: “We have been working with leaders across the north for a few years now recognising that if we work together we can have a much stronger voice and I am really proud that that work that we have been doing over that time is being recognised.

“We have launched our manifesto for the north, there is the real sense that if we work together we have a very strong case.

“I am really very pleased, across the parties nationally, they are starting to take notice.”

The back to backs of Harehills.

However, Mrs Blake said whatever the election candidates promise - they have to deliver because the city of Leeds and the rest of the country are “sick and tired” of decisions that affect them so deeply being made so far away.

She added: “What we want to make sure is that all of the promises are translated into action after the election.

“I hope everyone listens very carefully to the manifestos that are being put forward. There is a real opportunity to get a game change and put people at the heart of everything that we do.

“We need to see real commitment to move the power out of Whitehall.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has run a campaign that highlights the divide in the city.

“People in our communities are sick and tired of decisions being made so far away that have a major impact, but they can’t have a say. This is an opportunity to bring an end to that.”

Social Inequality

With the shocking statistic that just a few miles apart - some babies will die ten years before others - there is a huge divide in the city of Leeds over the quality of life for our residents and communities living in the most affluent or most deprived parts of Leeds.

Over the summer the YEP turned the spotlight on some of the stark differences in outcomes for residents across Leeds living just a postcode away from one another.

While the city centre continues to boom there are those residents living into its spectre that are struggling to make ends meet.

Now is the time to take action and help to close the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Transport

Unreliable bus services in the city are costing people jobs.

There is evidence that Leeds workers are losing their jobs because they can’t get to work on time.

Not everyone has access to a car and train services over the last two summers have gone off the rails. Despite the overhaul to the look of Leeds City Station there are still concerns from commuters when it comes to the reliability of services on our region’s rail network.

And it’s not just public transport. There are still real issues on our city’s choked up roads when it comes to tackling congestion at peak times as people struggle to get from one side of the city to another. Leeds took pride in being named a Motorway City but clogged roads are a real problem as it continues to be the largest city in Europe without a mass-transit system.

We have to be forward thinking as a city to make sure we can keep moving.

Health

Leeds health chiefs have made a pledge to improve the health of the poorest, the fastest - yet despite schemes and progress on early intervention and child obesity, the top five deprived council wards in Leeds all rate “significantly above” the rest of Leeds for smoking, obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic heart disease.

Our residents need fair access to services and treatments without it becoming a postcode lottery for the healthy.

Education

Some schools are at the bottom of the league tables because the majority of the intake don’t speak English as a first language.

Meanwhile, of our city’s schools are exempt from Ofsted inspection because they have been continuously deemed outstanding.

The council says its hands are tied by central government as to the building of new schools yet academies can set up a school where they choose - which is often affluent areas.

As parents battle to get the best outcomes for their children in terms of their education we are calling for assurances that every child in Leeds will be given the best possible start in life.

Tech and Digital

Leeds is the largest financial and legal centre outside of London and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city.

It has secured a deal to be the northern home of Channel 4 and has seen one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects in Wellington Place which, when finished, will see 16,000 people working and living there.

But more needs to be done on skills and education for people from all backgrounds to ensure a more even spread of growth.

The burgeoning technology sector is where the future of this city lies and as such must be in line for investment to ensure it continues to thrive.