Osborne is urged to get behind Yorkshire economic growth

YORKSHIRE is looking to secure millions of pounds from George Osborne in the New Year to help grow the region’s economy.

George Osborne

Bids from across the region have been submitted to the Treasury looking for a share of £1 billion the Chancellor made available in the Autumn Statement earlier this month.

A request for £5 million to create a rail engineering academy in South Yorkshire is among the projects seeking Government backing.

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This is the second round of funding to be made available from the Government’s Local Growth Fund - worth around £2 billion a year.

The money is available to support plans drawn up by local enterprise partnerships - bodies bringing together councils and the private sector - to grow their economies.

A Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership spokesman said: “Our top priorities will include projects that were not funded in the first Growth Deal. These are projects that will help to accelerate the delivery of our Strategic Economic Plan.

“Our asks include funding to support businesses to trade and export and also include funding to extend our RGF [Regional Growth Fund] business support programme and building a Rail Engineering Academy in Doncaster.”

A successful bid by the Sheffield City Region could also lead to funding of around £5.8 million to support a package of bus service improvements between Rotherham and Sheffield and £2 million for renewal of the Supertram network.

The proposed Rail Engineering Academy would be part of a wider Centre for Rail Engineering and Technical Excellence (CREATE) which would include the High Speed Rail College Doncaster is to co-host with Birmingham.

The Leeds City Region and Humber Local Enterprise Partnerships have also confirmed they are submitting bids although details have yet to be made public.

Yorkshire was a big winner in the first round of the Local Growth Fund securing more than £1 billion over the coming years to support projects across the region.

Flood defence projects to protect 58,000 homes around the Humber, completing the link road from the M18 to Robin Hood Airport and encouraging businesses to invest in Bradford city centre were among the schemes to be backed by the Government in the last round.

There are hopes in the region that the Chancellor’s public commitment to turning the North into an economic “powerhouse” that can compete on the global stage will be reflected in the second round decisions which are expected to be made early in the New Year.

But there are also concerns that the second round of funding could be used, in part, to offer consolation to those areas who were less successful with their original bids.

The Local Growth Fund was set up following a report by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine that recommended devolving large sums of Government money to regions so they can make their own decisions about how best to grow their local economies.

Labour has promised to increase the amount of money in the Local Growth Fund to £6 billion a year or £30 billion over the course of the next Parliament if it takes power after the General Election..

It wants to move from a bidding process to multi-year agreements between central and local government on plans to grow the local economy.

Labour’s plans to help areas grow their local economies, unveiled by Ed Miliband in Leeds this year, also include proposals to allow councils to retain increases in revenue from business rates.