Thousands to benefit from £1.4bn deal to create new jobs

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A £1.4 BILLION deal will bring thousands of jobs to the city.

And Wakefield will get its share of the money to make sure all young people are working, in education or training by 2015.

This was the message after it was announced yesterday that the Leeds City Region (LCR), which includes Wakefield, has struck a deal with the government meaning a partnership of local councils will inherit the powers and funding to create jobs, improve the transport network and stimulate investment into the local economy.

The £1bn fund for major transport projects and a £400m investment fund for regeneration, both paid for in part by the government, will help create thousands of jobs during the next 10 years.

Hailing ‘a new beginning’ for the district Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said funding and devolved powers would allow it to improve its lacking skill levels, which are among the lowest in the UK.He said that no-one aged between 16 and 24 will be left out of education, employment or training by 2015.

Coun Box said: “You need to have ambitious targets.

“The recession has had a massive impact on jobs and growth so there’s going to be a real focus in Wakefield on skills. The deal is looking to eliminate NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training), and this will have a huge impact in Wakefield.

“This is not going to fix problems overnight, but it is the start of a new beginning.

“Skills and transport issues have proven difficult to tackle in the past, but by coming together we will be able to work more quickly and efficiently. I think we have got a good deal for the people of Wakefield.”

The “City Deal” aims to generate thousands of new apprenticeships and create an Apprenticeship Academy supporting hundreds of young people each year.

And Coun Box, who is also chairman of the Leeds City Region, said plans were underway for a university centre in Wakefield and to get businesses working in schools which would also help to get young people into work.

During the next 10 years the LCR partnership will pool funds of £200m to be matched pound-for-pound by the government, for the investment fund.

It will be spent on projects that will create jobs and economic growth.

The partnership will also contribute money towards the £1bn transport fund, also funded partly by the government, to be spent on major transport projects.

A new West Yorkshire transport authority will be created, made up of six local councils, to manage the fund, and will make it a priority to improve rail links between the region and Manchester.

Coun Box added: “Wakefield will now have a bigger say in what happens in our region and we will use our local knowledge to get resources to the areas that need them most.

“This heralds a new era giving us an opportunity to ensure that decisions made about this district are made here – not in Whitehall – and are made by the people who will work hard to create real economic opportunities for Wakefield people and our local businesses.”

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called for cities to come forward with ambitious proposals in a report called Unlocking Growth in Cities last year.

He said: “We want powerful, innovative cities that are able to shape their economic destinies, boost entire regions and get the national economy moving.

“The aim of these deals is to empower cities to forge their own path, to play to their own strengths and to find creative solutions to local problems.”

Eight city deals have now been agreed with the government - the others are in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and Sheffield.