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Leeds has a population of around 781,700 (2016), making it the third-most populous British city after London and Birmingham.The economy of Leeds is the most diverse economy of all the UK's main employment centres and, has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city and has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector.The Borough of Leeds was created in 1207, when Maurice Paynel, lord of the manor, granted a charter to a small area of the manor, close to the river crossing, in what is now the city centre.Four centuries later, the inhabitants petitioned Charles I for a charter of incorporation, which was granted in 1626.The borough corporation was reformed under the provisions of Municipal Corporations Act 1835.Leeds Borough Police force was formed in 1836, and Leeds Town Hall was completed by the corporation in 1858.Initially, local government services were provided by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire County Council.When the county council was abolished in 1986, the city council absorbed its functions, and some powers passed to organisations such as the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority.
The railway network constructed around Leeds, starting with the Leeds and Selby Railway in 1834, provided improved communications with national markets and, significantly for its development, an east-west connection with Manchester and the ports of Liverpool and Hull giving improved access to international markets.
During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major mill town; wool was the dominant industry, but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important.
From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire, in the 16th century, Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.
This area formed a metropolitan district in the county of West Yorkshire.
It gained both borough and city status and is known as the City of Leeds.
Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and the second phase of High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall.