August 27: City’s transport plan is stuck in traffic jam in Whitehall

1
Have your say

From: Coun Keith Wakefield (Labour), Transport Committee Chair, West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

IN response to your Editorial on a decade of indecision on the planned NGT scheme (The Yorkshire Post, August 21), I would like to reassure readers that at no point over the past 25 years have we had any doubt that a modern transport system was needed to alleviate congestion on to the city centre through Headingley in north Leeds and from Stourton in the south.

We took the decision many years ago that a solution was needed and we have stuck by it. However the situation that sees final decisions and the purse strings held by Government ministers and civil servants based 200 miles away has meant our hands have been tied.

Government budget difficulties saw the Supertram scheme axed in 2005, leaving us to pursue, with Department for Transport support, the current bus-based option of NGT. Then, in 2010, the incoming government’s Comprehensive Spending Review saw the scheme put on hold for nearly two years. The effective local decision that devolution should bring would see an end to these remotely-imposed U-turns and delays.

Of course national legislation would still require a public inquiry, such as Leeds Supertram passed in 1999 and which took place last year for NGT. But it is only right that a scheme’s promoters have the chance to present its transport and economic benefit and people and interested companies opposed to the scheme are able to present their claims. We are confident that the case made for NGT at the public inquiry was compelling. It addresses transport problems that everyone recognises needs solving but for which no realistic, robust or affordable alternative has been proposed.

Our decision has not been stuck in the slow lane. It’s been stuck in London, but devolution offers an opportunity for that to change.

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

IS there any European city the size of Leeds which relies solely on buses, be they electric or diesel?

The endless, costly Trolleybus saga (The Yorkshire Post, August 21) is merely the latest dreary chapter in the city’s decades of “down to a price, not up to a standard” public transport history. I ask what are the city’s MPs doing about it?

Is it asking too much for them to set aside their political differences and, along with those from the wider region, to get Westminster by the political throat?