New campaign calls for more powers and better funding for Leeds

  • Three-quarters of people in marginal seats support more powers for local government to effect change in their area
  • Think Leeds launches today as part of a nationwide campaign, which will run until the General Election in May 2015
  • The campaign calls for more powers and fiscal freedoms to be devolved to Leeds, to boost prosperity, economic growth and improve standards of living

Think Leeds launches today as part of a national campaign ahead of the General Election in 2015, which argues that sustained national economic growth requires more powerful and better funded cities.

The campaign responds to the growing consensus and ambition across the political spectrum in favour of greater local devolution in England. It makes the case that cities need more control over how they raise and spend money, and that cities need more control over the big decisions that affect the lives of those who live and work there.

Leeds is one of the country’s strongest performing large cities, with a thriving professional services sector. But unemployment remains a concern throughout the city-region, with one in ten people holding no formal qualifications at all, and only half obtaining A*-C GCSEs. Leeds needs more power and control over funding to prioritise skills improvements and create more effective and efficient inter-city transport to link more people to jobs. Leeds has significant untapped potential and should be playing a bigger role in the national economy, but we must ensure it holds the powers and tools to unleash the opportunities it promises for the city and its surrounding areas.

For all major parties, the tide of public opinion calling for greater empowerment of cities is becoming too loud to ignore. Exclusive polling conducted by ComRes found that 73% of people in marginal seats would support greater powers for local government in their area, whilst only 33% of people think their local government currently has sufficient tools and powers to boost local economies. With nearly two thirds of key marginal seats in city-regions, no political party can afford to disregard the momentum building for change. Think Leeds seizes on this opportunity, to make the case to politicians and policy-makers to give Leeds a greater say in shaping its future.

It is vital that more is done to ensure that local leaders have the powers necessary to really drive change and deliver economic prosperity in Leeds. The platform unites city leaders from across the country to make the case for their cities. The campaign is already gaining traction, drawing a high number of influential national politicians, city leaders, key thinkers and policy-makers from across the country, to add their voice to the call for change.

Nigel Foster, President, Leeds Chamber of Commerce said:

“Think Leeds is bringing together key voices from across the city to make the case for more powers and freedoms at a local level ahead of the next General Election.”

“Over the next 10 months, we will be lobbying politicians across Leeds and in Westminster, to make sure that the next Government ‘Thinks Leeds’after the next election. Only through better funding and more local authority powers will Leeds be able to unlock the huge growth potential that exists within the city – for the benefit of the people who live here, and the UK’s future economic growth.”