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£1.6bn committee is up and running!
Next week will see one of the biggest changes to local government in a generation.
On Tuesday, West Yorkshire’s new combined authority will come into force, a body set up to oversee £1.6 billion of investment in jobs and transport across the county and beyond over the next ten years.
And it has a bold aim – to help to turn the north into “a second UK economic powerhouse” to rival London and the south-east. A report going before the body’s inaugural meeting says that by teaming up with other combined authorities covering Sheffield and Greater Manchester, it hopes to bring “the major city regions of the north together into a combined economic engine” to compete with the capital.
It says the key to doing this will be improving both the transport network and the digital infrastructure in the north.
It says: “Although our transport network supports a high volume of passenger and freight movement, it is not keeping up with the pace of growth in our economy and our workforce.”
Other aims of the combined authority include creating 18,000 new jobs, doubling the rate of housebuilding by 2021 and creating more good-quality jobs to lift people out of welfare dependency.
On Tuesday, the combined authority’s official website, westyorks-ca.gov.uk, will go live.
It will also be all change for the county’s transport authority, although passengers are unlikely to notice much of a difference.
Public transport body Metro is run by the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (WYITA).
From Tuesday, it will move under the wing of the combined authority, but it will still operate under the name of Metro, and the website, phone numbers and logos are all staying put.
A Metro spokesman said: “There should be no change for the travelling public.”
Its staff are also staying where they are, at Metro’s headquarters in Wellington House, Wellington Street, Leeds.
Tuesday will also see the inaugural meeting of the combined authority board, which includes Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green, at Metro’s offices.
In the past few months, members have been meeting as a shadow board as arrangements are finalised.
The combined authority is expected to spend around £191 million in 2014/15.
Its budget is partly funded by levies placed on each of the districts in West Yorkshire. The contribution from Bradford for 2014-15 is expected to be more than £23 million.
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