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It seems a long time ago that the Chancellor signed the West Yorkshire devolution deal at Nexus at the University of Leeds. It was only in March, just days before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. Since then priorities have shifted to our families, negotiating lockdown and keeping businesses afloat as we have collectively stepped into the unknown.

In what has been a hugely encouraging sign for me during this period, the region’s politicians have pressed ahead with a public consultation on the devolution deal and its £1.8bn of investment and decision-making powers. I recently completed the consultation survey (open until 19th July) and recommend anyone interested in the future of our region does the same – to better understand the scope and detail of the devolution package and to register your views at this momentous time.

Opening a conversation about devolution now, as we make the early steps on the road to recovery, sends the right signals to businesses and investors in our region.

It says that the economic fightback is being led here in West Yorkshire.

It’s an opportunity to deliver the ‘good growth’ that will see all parts of our society benefit through investment in transport, skills, housing, planning and employment.

At this time of reflection and reassessment, it provides us with a vehicle to deliver the positive economic, social and environmental change that many of us now seek.

But perhaps most importantly – certainly in the short term – it can supercharge the economic fightback post-COVID-19 by granting powers and funds to our local authorities who are best placed to respond to the specific challenges faced here in West Yorkshire. It will build upon the area’s history of collaboration to maximise this investment and increase its contribution to the national economy.

Added to that, devolution also ensures we are continuing to think big – about the long-term transformational change that can unlock our region’s future potential. A tram scheme for Leeds and beyond. £317m for cycling and walking. A raft of infrastructure upgrades. The way we get around and between our cities transformed.

The South Bank project in Leeds. The Huddersfield Blueprint. The transformation of Bradford city centre. All move a step (or two) forward.

Put simply, devolution can transform West Yorkshire into a more connected, wealthier and prosperous region, better placed to face the challenges ahead. As a team of communications professionals in the city, we know how important momentum is to realising the benefits of complex proposals. This consultation keeps the devolution debate progressing and West Yorkshire on its way to delivering huge positive change on a local level. Let’s keep it moving!

Further information about the West Yorkshire Devolution public consultation and the survey itself can be accessed here: https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/wydevolution