COUNCIL leaders today agreed on a controversial Leeds-led devolution plan which would see West Yorkshire team up with four neighbours to take greater control over its own affairs.
Town Hall chiefs confirmed their intention to submit a devolution bid to the government by Friday’s deadline, based on a “Leeds City Region geography”.
The plan replaces an earlier proposal to form a “Greater Yorkshire” bid bringing together West Yorkshire, the whole of North Yorkshire, the East Riding and Hull to take powers from Whitehall.
The new plan covers the West Yorkshire districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield plus the North Yorkshire districts of Craven, Harrogate, Selby and the City of York.
Councillors say the Leeds City Region represents the “functional economic area” – the way that businesses operate and people travel to work.
The bid was confirmed following a meeting today with Treasury Minister Lord O’Neill.
Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We had a constructive meeting with leaders of neighbouring councils and Lord O’Neill ahead of us submitting to government an ambitious devolution proposal that will mean better infrastructure, jobs and housing.”
The deal is likely to see an elected “metro-mayor” for the combined district. Voters in Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield rejected city mayors in 2012 - but the government has made it clear that another election is a condition of granting devolved powers.
The combined Leeds region represents the UK’s largest city region economy outside London, with a population of 2.8 million, generating £57.7bn of economic output.
Councils in South Yorkshire are expected to submit a separate bid in partnership with authorities in north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire.
George Osborne has offered areas the chance to gain more independence over their own affairs and wants initial bids submitted by September 4 with a view to announcing completed deals when the Government publishes its spending review in November.
Calls have been made for a single county-wide bid to unite the region and maximise the Yorkshire brand, particularly in areas such as tourism and attracting overseas investment.