Fury as £250m Leeds trolleybus scheme decision delayed again

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A DECISION on Leeds’s £250m trolleybus scheme is set to be delayed again until next year to the fury of transport bosses.

The Government is expected to say it wants more time to consider the scheme, which has been in limbo for 18 months in light of spending cuts.

Most of the 24 other major local transport schemes still waiting a decision from Ministers – including improvements to Leeds inner ring road, the Bedale bypass in North Yorkshire, a road scheme in Beverley and bus routes in South Yorkshire – will learn their fate before Christmas, possibly today.

But bosses at West Yorkshire transport authority Metro are furious the trolleybus decision, which is known as New Generation Transport (NGT), is set to be delayed until at least January.

This is despite the Government admitting that there is enough money for it. Metro chairman James Lewis said: “I am astounded and disgusted that after another 18 months’ delay, we are now hearing that the Department for Transport is now asking for even more time to assess the re-submitted bid for the planned NGT trolleybus scheme.”

Metro insists that having cut the cost of the scheme it will generate £5.90 for benefits in every £1 spent by the Government which has left officials baffled as to why it cannot be approved.

“I am mystified as to why they now want to delay the project even further, particularly when every month lost means inflation and other factors add £1m to the overall cost of the scheme,” said Cllr Lewis. “This is exactly why we need the powers for local decision-making which Nick Clegg spelled out at the IPPR conference in Leeds less than a week ago.

“We need to be in control of transport and other job-creating projects that directly affect the local economy, rather than subject to endless deferrals and delays dictated by officials 200 miles away.”

Chancellor George Osborne pledged an extra £170m in last month’s Autumn Statement for transport schemes, meaning the Government has enough to fund all 25 schemes awaiting a decision, as long as they meet value for money standards.

Most of those 25 are understood to have been given the go-ahead.