Sunny Bank Mills Farsley: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak quizzed over mass transit and economy on visit to Leeds
and live on Freeview channel 276
His visit to Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley came after yesterday’s autumn budget, in which the government set out plans to cut national insurance and boost pensions.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post that he was a “big backer” of the city and that its businesses could expect to see cuts to their rates in the next year.
The YEP asked Mr Sunak about his plans to boost the city’s economy. He said: “What is happening in Leeds is really exciting. When I was Chancellor, my first ever visit after the first budget was to Leeds. You can see the incredible growth here, whether that is in the financial services or the creative industries.
“We are big backers of Leeds. You can see that in the investment that has gone into transport infrastructure, for example. Delivering on mass transit is critical to Leeds’ future growth. It is the biggest city in Europe that does not have mass transit.
"But also, devolution and making sure that local people are in control of their own destiny is really important, and we are delivering on that. Most of all, this is about backing the incredible people and businesses of Leeds.
"I have been talking to some of them here today and they are incredibly entrepreneurial people. They need a government that is behind them, and that’s why in the Autumn statement we said we would continue to support the economy.”
He added: "Businesses across the north will see a big cut to their business rates next year, which will make an enormous difference to them. And everyone is getting a tax cut as well which will help to drive the economy.”
Mr Sunak was also asked if a mass transit system could be guaranteed in the region, after plans for high speed rail in the north were scrapped earlier this year.
He said: "There will be significantly more funding for mass transit in West Yorkshire as a result of the decision I made on HS2. We are repurposing every penny of the money that would have been spent and deploying it across the north. A good chunk of that has been kept aside to deliver mass transit.
"It can be delivered in full, because previously there wasn’t the full funding available.”
When pushed on timescales, he said: “Conversations are ongoing between the Department for Transport and local authorities. These projects take time to plan and deliver, you can’t do them overnight.”