Leaders tell Grayling devolution key to tackling transport woes

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COUNCIL leaders have urged Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to help negotiate a devolution deal for Yorkshire that allows the region to tackle its own transport problems.

In a letter to Mr Grayling, the leaders of the five West Yorkshire councils warn the ongoing gulf in transport spending between the North and South is "clearly not in the national interest".

Mr Grayling sparked anger this week when he used an article in The Yorkshire Post to tell northern leaders to take responsibility for addressing transport needs.

Business and council leaders in the North were already upset by Mr Grayling's decision earlier in the summer to scrap planned electrification of the Midland Mainline between Nottingham and Sheffield and his suggestion that the long-promised electrification of the main trans-Pennine route could be downgraded.

In the letter from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the council leaders write: "We agree with your assessment that Northern leaders are best placed to understand the transport needs and opportunities of their local area, and that improvements to transport links must be designed and managed by the North itself.

"We welcome the role that Transport for the North will play in achieving this. But you cannot ask leaders in the North to shape their own transport destiny when we do not currently have access to the resources powers we need to deliver the changes we all agree on as we seek to reverse decades of under-investment in transport."

Hopes are growing that the long-running wrangle over how Yorkshire can take more control over its own affairs - in the same way as Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, West of England, Liverpool City Region and the West Midlands - could be close to being resolved.

And the West Yorkshire leaders ask Mr Grayling to use his "influence within government to help unlock a devolution deal that will give all parts of Yorkshire the tools to take control of our own transport priorities".