Hundreds of Government transport jobs to be created in Leeds amid launch of £3bn bus strategy

A northern hub of transport jobs is to be created in Leeds, with hundreds of civil service roles moved out of the capital, the Government has announced.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has said it will be creating an initial 650 jobs across Leeds and Birmingham by 2025, with 100 being recruited for now.

And MPs welcomed the move, but were also clear much more needed to be done to improve transport in West Yorkshire.

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The Government has already pledged to move 22,000 civil servants out of London by 2030, and has also announced that 50 per cent of senior roles will also be outside of the capital by then.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Photo: PA

And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was an “historic move”.

“Transport is absolutely vital to the local communities we serve and having hubs in major cities like Birmingham and Leeds will offer a fresh perspective on how we can better serve these areas,” he said.

However Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East said: “While the creation of any new jobs in Leeds is welcome, it’s going to take much more than moving a small part of one Government department to bridge the North/South divide and end the jobs crisis we now face across the country.

“Leeds is still the largest city in Europe without a rail-based public transport system. We need meaningful investment so we can create the green jobs our city so desperately needs.”

His Leeds North West colleague Alex Sobel added: “I always welcome to Government moving jobs out of London, I hope this will also signal a shift in per head public transport funding where the North loses out many times over to London. It’s important that these roles focus on decarbonising transport and delivering schemes like the West Yorkshire metro mass transport, which is long overdue.”

Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “This is another positive investment recognising our region’s strengths, following the decision to locate the UK Infrastructure Bank here, bringing benefits not just to Leeds but Bradford and the wider region. I hope it will help us as we make the compelling case for future investment in our transport system, to better connect our communities and raise living standards while cutting carbon emissions.”

Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, added: “This shows once more the importance of Leeds, not just to our region but to the North of England and the UK. Investment in transport is central to our plans for the future and I hope the presence of more decision-makers in our city helps ensure the case for further investment in Leeds is heard.”

It comes as Boris Johnson published a major new bus strategy which aims to bring simpler fares and flexible services.

The £3bn programme is hoped to mean more reliable and frequent services across the country, with daily price caps, evening and weekend services boosted, and integrated services and ticketing.

However the move will raise eyebrows after the £150m budget to deliver integrated ticketing –where tickets work across different modes of transport much like London’s Oyster card – was taken from Transport for the North in January.

Mr Johnson said: “Buses are lifelines and liberators connecting people to jobs they couldn’t otherwise take, driving pensioners and young people to see their friends, sustaining town centres and protecting the environment. As we build back better from the pandemic, better buses will be one of our first acts of levelling up.”

The Government’s new bus strategy will also address rural transport issues.

Where London-style options are not appropriate, recipients of £20m from the rural mobility fund, announced today, will be able to finance and trial on-demand operations such as minibuses booked on an app for places which are more rural or suburban.

And in a boost for Scarborough-based green bus manufacturers Plaxton, Mr Johnson recommitted to a previous pledge that 4,000 British-built electric or hydrogen buses would be manufactured.

The sale of new diesel buses would be ending, he said, and a consultation has been launched to decide on an end date.