Time to fight for Leeds devolution rights

Leeds politicians must talk to each other across party divides '“ and talk to the public too '“ if the city is to build a convincing final case to take charge of its own financial destiny.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 8:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2016, 8:22 pm

That was the view from the Leeds City Council chamber as councillors discussed the importance of securing a devolution deal for the Leeds City Region as quickly as possible.

Pressure for the Leeds region to step up its devolution game has been steadily mounting, following the Government’s rubber-stamping of deals for Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, the North East, Teeside, Liverpool and West Midlands. A proposal for Leeds City Region has been submitted to the Treasury and negotiations continue.

Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Leeds council, said it was now time to follow other cities’ example “with some speed”. “There is a closing window of opportunity which we must not miss,” he said.

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“But it relies on there now being much more open debate and a much more collegiate approach to how we persuade the Government that we can in fact deliver the Leeds City Region footprint, at least in part, fairly quickly.”

Lib Dem group leader Stewart Golton said: “It would help our case if we were able to demonstrate there was popular will to actually make this happen - that there was popular impatience alongside that of the political decision-makers as well.”

Leader of the council Judith Blake responded: “The issue with getting the public on board is that the Treasury have put a confidentiality clause in. People want to know about the details, and how it’s going to affect their lives.

“Once we get that transparency, and we can get the language right, that’s when we can start to inspire people.”