Monday, 7 July 2014

Core Cities welcome Growth Deals but say ‘more still to do’

Issued on behalf of the Core Cities group

Today Leeds joined its fellow English Core Cities in welcoming the latest round of Growth Deals as a step in the right direction, but called for even greater emphasis on unlocking their economic potential.

The Government has announced a £12bn fund to invest in local economies over the next six years. The money will be spent on training, housing, transport and superfast broadband.

‘Growth Deals’ are a competitive process whereby the Local Enterprise Partnerships of business and civic leaders negotiate funding for local priorities. The group acknowledged the Minister’s continued commitment to decentralisation.

The Core Cities argue that in England too many cities outside London are failing to achieve their growth potential. Very few are at the forefront of the nation’s economy and many are overly dependent on dwindling public sector funding. The eight Core Cities urban areas between them already account for 27% of England’s economic output, and with greater freedom could deliver much more.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“While today’s announcement is the excellent news we have been pushing hard for for a very long time, we still firmly believe there is huge scope to go further to unleash the economic potential of our cities.

“This weekend’s incredibly successful staging of the Grand Départ and opening stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire demonstrate beyond doubt just what we are capable of achieving for the UK economy in our regions.

“We need real local powers to support real local determination to design our own economic destiny. Our great cities developed around driving the English industrial engine but while most of the power is still focused in London it inhibits our efforts to rebuild our regions into the economic force to be reckoned with they can and should be. Strong and successful regions in turn under-pin the national economy.”

Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Business, Growth, Trade and Investment said:

“I welcome today’s Growth Deal measures to enable cities to create jobs and grow our economies. The ability to invest in our cities’ infrastructure and the skills of our residents is key to competing for growth in the global economy.

“But we can’t deliver on jobs, growth and financial self sufficiency with our hands tied behind our backs by Whitehall. Our overly centralised system is no longer fit for purpose and an annual negotiation process won’t solve the problem. The Core Cities want to see a better balance of funding for the regions so we can effectively meet the specific needs in our cities.”

The Core Cities have also been pushing for a new approach to public sector reform, arguing this goes hand in hand with driving growth. Local, sustainable public services create the quality of life and environment that supports business, their workforce and families, and ultimately attracts investment.

Core Cities’ urban areas currently only retain about 5% of the total tax base raised in them. Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in cities would mean joined up services that local people want, but also growth. Independent forecasts demonstrate these measures could mean an additional £222 billion and 1.3 million jobs for the country by 2030. That is like adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK.

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Public Sector Reform said:


“Newcastle and other cities have already benefited from previous Deals. These have shown how loosening the ties between ourselves and Westminster is starting to create jobs. The announcement of significant funding today is welcome, and will undoubtedly help create more jobs, but it falls short of the level of reform set out by Heseltine.

"Our ambition is for reform of local and central Government, so cities have greater influence over the taxes they raise and are free to get on with the excellent work of delivering services for citizens. We would have better transport, better housing and better services for our most vulnerable residents without costing the taxpayer a penny more. Crucially, more decisions taken locally would not only promote growth but breathe new life into local democracy. Growth Deals are a positive step forward, but there is an appetite to go further.”

ENDS


Media contacts

Chris Murray
Core Cities
c.murray@corecities.com / 0161 234 5666

Lucy James
Westbourne Communications
Lucy.james@westbournecoms.com / 020 3397 0105

Lisa Cattanach
Nottingham City Council
lisa.cattanach@nottinghamcity.gov.uk / 0115 876 3324

Steve Park
Newcastle City Council
Steve.park@newcastle.gov.uk / 0191 211 5071

Donna Cox
Leeds City Council
Donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk / 0113 224 3335


Notes to editors

The Core Cities consist of: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Core Cities recently released a Growth Prospectus. The group provides a unique and united local authority voice to promote the role of their cities in driving economic growth. They represent the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London. The Core Cities Group has a track record of 15 years as a cross party group, led by the City Leaders. For more information please visit http://www.corecities.com/.

Billion pound Deal for Leeds City Region

Issued on behalf of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has today agreed an historic £1bn Deal with government that will create tens of thousands of new jobs and accelerate economic growth across the entire City Region.

The £1bn Deal includes a £573m settlement between 2015 and 2021 from the government’s Local Growth Fund to deliver the ambitious growth agenda outlined in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). Unlike anywhere else in the country, a further £420m has been secured to deliver a West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund in a 20-year agreement. Combined with other new funding streams, this significant step towards devolution provides £1bn of government investment to unlock jobs and growth.

In addition to transport, Local Growth Fund investment will support economic projects and programmes across all four of the LEP’s strategic priorities, with benefits for the entire City Region.

A total of £73m has been allocated in the Deal for projects beginning in April 2015, including housing and development sites in Bradford, Leeds, Wakefield, York, Halifax and Skipton. £8m has been secured in 2015/16 to extend the LEP’s successful Business Growth Programme, which has already enabled over 250 SMEs to grow and create over 2,000 jobs across the City Region. An Energy Hub to develop local energy infrastructure, and a Skills Capital programme providing investment in colleges to develop a flexible, skilled workforce, will also be delivered through the Deal.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the LEP said:
“This is a game-changing moment for the Leeds City Region. We have worked tirelessly with businesses and partners on showcasing our region’s immense potential to play a leading role in rebalancing the UK economy.

“The scale of our settlement, combined with the additional freedoms and flexibilities we have secured through this historic Deal, demonstrate the government’s faith in this powerhouse economy, as well as in the strength of our partnership, our governance arrangements and our readiness to deliver.

“Have we got everything we asked for? No. Have we got enough to begin realising our ambitions for transformational growth? Absolutely. We have shown we can deliver – now we need to deliver at scale, maximising the full range of funding and investment options and working with our partners to implement our Strategic Economic Plan in its entirety, transforming our economy into a sustained net contributor to national wealth.“

As part of the deal on the West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund, the government has also devolved unprecedented levels of funding on a payment by results basis. It has also granted the City Region powers to prioritise transport schemes locally, ensuring that investment is directed to those schemes that offer the best economic returns. The £420m devolved funding for the Transport Fund, when combined with local financing, paves the way for an overall £1bn Transport Fund in the City Region over the next 20 years.

In a joint statement, Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, and Councillor Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said:

“We have been lobbying hard for this for a very long time. We are glad that the government has now listened to our exceptionally strong case to put the financial power in our hands to drive our ambitions in a way that could be truly transformational for local growth.

“All this could not and would not be possible without the very strong and powerful support we have received from our public and private sector partners and together we will work to forge a future of real prospects for our people and industries. We aim to unleash the economic potential of the North and in particular in West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region.

“This must be just the start of more powers and resources being localised. With the right infrastructure and investment, along with well-planned, sustainable skills training and job creation to support our push for growth, we can transform our city’s and our neighbours’ economic potential into an economic powerhouse.”

Delivery of the LEP‘s Local Growth Deal will start in April 2015. The LEP will work in partnership with the Combined Authority to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan which forms the basis of the Deal.

Commenting on the Deal, the Prime Minister said:
“Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.

“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great towns and cities, boosting local economies and driving growth across the country.

“This historic deal means real change with exciting plans for Leeds and the region that include investment in rail and roads - reducing congestion, easing commutes and connecting businesses.
“This deal will also help boost skills in key sectors such as engineering and manufacturing and support growing business.

“By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing, we can create thousands of new jobs. And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hardworking people in Yorkshire.”

The Deputy Prime Minister said:
“The Leeds City Region Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for people, improve transport connections within West Yorkshire and to other cities across the north, allow new homes to be built, support fast growing businesses and build a stronger economy and a fairer society.
“We’re placing the power and money in the hands of people in the Leeds City Region who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:
The LEP:
The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, also known as the LEP, is a private and public sector partnership, working to stimulate business growth across the Leeds City Region. The Leeds City Region geography includes 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council)

OUR VISION: To unlock the potential of the City Region, developing an economic powerhouse that creates jobs and prosperity

OUR MISSION: By acting as a bridge between government and business, we will help businesses to unlock their potential, attracting and retaining the best talent to the City Region and building its profile nationally and internationally

For press/media enquiries please contact:

Victoria Thornton
Senior Communications and Engagement Officer
Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership
Victoria.Thornton@leeds.gov.uk
Tel: 07891 278049

Film of Holocaust survivor to be shown at Leeds Town Hall event

A holocaust survivor will be talking and presenting a short film regarding her experiences at Auschwitz as part of an event at Leeds Town Hall this week.

Held on Thursday 10 July in the Albert Room of the town hall from 6-7pm, Iby Knill will present her film ‘An Auschwitz Promise’, which will be followed by a talk and short question and answer session.

Iby, who was part of the resistance in Hungary before being sent to Auschwitz as a political prisoner, is now a member of the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association’s Education Committee and has become a tireless speaker at schools, community groups and organisations. As part of her work in telling her story, Ivy warns of the dangers of discrimination and persecution.

If you would like to reserve a ticket, please call (0113) 3950678.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor David Congreve said:

"We should never forget what happened during the Holocaust, and events such as this one by Iby who survived Auschwitz, offer a poignant reminder of why discrimination and persecution in all its forms must always be tackled and never ignored.

"Included on the night will be a short film ‘An Auschwitz Promise’, and a question and answer session with Iby, who to this day as a member of the Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association’s Education Committee, is a tireless visitor to our schools, community groups and organisations."

Notes to editors:

Iby Knill

For more info see http://ibyknill.co.uk/index/?page_id=21

An inspirational tale of Holocaust survival, The Woman Without A Number is the story of Iby Knill, who featured recently on the BBC1 television series My Story. An extraordinarily brave and open book, it tells of persecution, resistance and – ultimately – redemption.

In her book, Iby tells of her early childhood in Czechoslovakia and of how her parents – alarmed at the persecution of Jews in Germany – smuggled her over the border to Hungary. The Woman Without A Number also reveals how she was caught by the security police and then imprisoned and tortured, not only as a result of her Jewish connections but for having entered Hungary illegally and for aiding the resistance movement. Eventually, Iby was sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

In June 1944, Iby Knill left Auschwitz-Birkenau by volunteering to travel as a nurse with a slave labour transport of 500 women. Once transported to Lippstadt, she was put in charge of a hospital unit and risked her life protecting the weak and helpless from the gas chambers.

The Woman Without A Number is a truly remarkable tale that has waited sixty years to be told.

Iby had a successful career, first in the education sector and later as a designer. She has a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. She is now a member of the HSFA's Education Committee and is a tireless speaker for schools, community groups and other organisations.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578
Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk