Inquiry brings together alliance of Leeds trolleybus scheme objectors

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AN alliance of objectors will today begin a bid to stop Leeds’s controversial trolleybus scheme in its tracks.

The public inquiry that will decide the fate of the £250m project gets under way at 10am at the Regus office building off Wellington Street in the city centre.

It will hear pro-trolleybus evidence from experts put forward by the scheme’s co-promoters, West Yorkshire passenger transport authority Metro and Leeds City Council.

But it will also hear from a wide range of opponents who believe the New Generation Transport (NGT) project is not the solution to Leeds’s traffic congestion problems. Objectors provisionally scheduled to appear include:

• Leeds bus operator First, which has claimed a fleet of state-of-the-art double deckers would deliver the same benefits as trolleybus at a fraction of the cost;

• Yorkshire-based supermarket giant Morrisons, which has said that NGT would “adversely impact” on its store in Hunslet;

• Leeds College of Art, which has already submitted documents to the inquiry saying the scheme has been subject to insufficient public consultation and has also been developed “in haste in response to political decisions at a national level”;

• Community groups including the Friends of Woodhouse Moor as well as residents’ associations in West Park and Weetwood.

Friends of Woodhouse Moor chairman Bill McKinnon said yesterday: “I’m hopeful that we will get a good outcome and then that will be the end of this trolleybus madness. I would like to see the people at Metro employed instead on a transport system that can actually make life better for Leeds.”

Metro chairman Coun James Lewis has previously hailed the public inquiry as a chance to present what he says are the “significant” transport and economic benefits that NGT would bring.

Headed up by Government-appointed inspector Martin Whitehead, the inquiry will run for 30 days over the course of the next eight weeks or so. Leeds’s trolleybus plans started taking shape after Labour ministers scrapped the city’s Supertram light rail scheme in 2005 due to concerns about rising costs.