West Yorkshire chiefs urge party candidates to deliver key priorities

Hargreaves Foundry Drainage Ltd
Hargreaves Foundry Drainage Ltd

Leaders across West Yorkshire are determined to see the next government deliver key priorities for the North of England set out in a bold manifesto, launched ahead of the General Election.

Business heads and council leaders in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield are challenging all parties to deliver on the Power up the North’s manifesto, including local education control and regional transport improvements.

Hargreaves Foundry works

Hargreaves Foundry works

The parties view the manifesto as a roadmap for the future, so “forgotten” areas like Halifax, Kirklees, Calder Valley, and Wakefield are set to be at the centre of a political vote-gaining battleground.

Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce Managing Director, Martin Hathaway said: “We need better infastruture and inter connectivity for towns within West Yorkshire including Halifax and Wakefield.

“Part of the manifesto is to provide more export investment, which is great as West Yorkshire already punches above its weight in that department.

“We want to build on that and be at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.”

Wakefield city centre

Wakefield city centre

The manifesto was born from the Convention for the North NP11 event, which took place in Rotherham in September this year.

It comes as Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) director Henri Murison said the North would be the place where the election would be won or lost.

Calderdale council leader, Tim Swift said: “The North has suffered from lack of funding and we cannot build an economy as a whole by pumping more investment in the South of England.

“In Halifax, we need improvements to our railways and bus services.

Kirklees council leader, Shabir Pandor

Kirklees council leader, Shabir Pandor

“The focus on the North prior to this election is much stronger than ever before and we must make our voice as powerful as possible so this manifesto is delivered.”

Kirklees council leader, Shabir Pandor said: “We must rebalance the economy because the South of England has grown unfairly and we’ve been forgotten.

“Many people who work in major cities such as Leeds or Manchester commute from places like Batley, Dewsbury and Wakefield, so the economic benefits are there to invest in transport.

“We want to be masters of our destiny, which can also be done through local control of our education.

Roger Marsh at the Piece Hall

Roger Marsh at the Piece Hall

“We have the capability to create a green revolution and lead the world in decarbonisation, but the money needs to be there.”

Peter Box, leader of Wakefield council, said: “The evidence continues to show the North is underfunded and neglected.

“Reducing low pay and welfare costs to the taxpayer through creating quality jobs should be built in to the criteria.”

Roger Marsh, Chair of both the NP11 board and Halifax’s Piece Hall Trust, said: “The regeneration of the Piece Hall is symbolic of what we can achieve when we work together. It’s attracted more than five million visitors since it reopened two years ago.

The call for increased investment comes as rival newspapers ran a second-joint editorial on the issue this year.

WHAT WE WANT...

Wakefield council leader Peter Box

Wakefield council leader Peter Box

1. Local control of education and training, with skills provision systematically connected to the North’s businesses and growth needs.

2. A commitment to rebalancing the economy as a formal HM Treasury objective, delivering transformational investment.

3. A transport budget for the region, enabling full delivery of the Transport for the North plan.

4. Ownership of, and freedom to lead, investment and trade activities to drive export led growth.

5. A raft of measures backing the North to lead the green industrial revolution.

Calderdale council leader Peter Swift

Calderdale council leader Peter Swift