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West Yorks CA may be handed control of key motorway links


Andrew Forster
03 April 2020

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority could take over the ownership of two sections of motorway from Highways England.  

The idea features in the detailed paperwork for the West Yorkshire devolution deal that was announced by the Government last month (LTT 20 Mar).

Discussing how the devolution deal could evolve, the Government says it will “consider any case that the city region may bring forward for de-trunking part or all of the M606 and M621, or exploring alternative ways in which management of these roads can be made more responsive to local priorities”.

The M606 connects Bradford to the M62 transpennine motorway. The M621 connects the M62 to Leeds. 

Last month the DfT announced it would launch a study into the role of the Strategic Road Network in combined authority areas, which could lead to “improved collaboration on operations and changes in road ownership” (LTT 20 Mar).

The deal document explains the transport powers and funding that will be conferred on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in return for it moving to an elected mayor model of governance. 

The funding elements of the deal include: 

  • £38m a year for 30 years into a West Yorkshire Investment Fund, with a 25/75 per cent capital/revenue split 
  • a Government commitment to work with West Yorkshire to develop a “modern mass transit system through access to a new five-year integrated transport settlement”. The settlement will commence in 2022/23 with £4.2bn available to eight areas (LTT 20 Mar) 
  • £317m from the Transforming Cities Fund to improve public transport, cycling and walking. Kirklees Council, a member of the WYCA said this represented “a larger allocation, both in cash and per head, than any of the other areas that submitted a bid”.
  • A mayoral election will be held next May. The first mayor will be serve a three-year term. From 2024 the term will last four years. 
  • The mayor will have the power to:
  • prepare a local transport plan 
  • introduce bus franchising
  • pay grants to bus operators 
  • request local regulations requiring large fuel retailers to provide electric vehicle charging points.  

The combined authority will  have the power to designate a Key Route Network of the most important local authority roads. Operational responsibility for the roads will remain with the constituent councils. The combined authority could operate a permit scheme on the KRN and apply to the Government for lane rental powers for the network. 

The combined authority can also seek ministerial consent to introduce a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff on new development to fund transport and other infrastructure.   

On planning, the CA will have statutory spatial planning powers to produce a spatial development strategy. 

Voting members of the mayoral combined authority will be the elected mayor; the leaders of the five districts (Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees); and three elected members agreed by constituent councils to reflect the balance of political parties across the combined authority area. 

Non-voting members will be an elected member appointed by the City of York Council, which will remain a non-constituent member of the combined authority, and the chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership. 

The Government has agreed to provide £200,000 in 2020/21 to support the establishment of a Yorkshire Leaders Board “in recognition of the ambitions for closer collaboration across Yorkshire”. 

Most Yorkshire local authorities, including those in West Yorkshire, had backed the idea of a combined authority for the whole of Yorkshire led by an elected mayor. 

The Government has rejected this idea at least for now, instead pushing for sub-regional devolution deals across Yorkshire. A deal for South Yorkshire was struck in 2015 and is now finally on the verge of being operationalised. North Yorkshire and the City of York councils are exploring the case for a combined authority (LTT 07 Feb).

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