Leeds 'in top ten' of congested cities outside London

Leeds city centre.
Leeds city centre.

Leeds has been named one of top ten worst areas for congestion anywhere in England outside London, according to new transport research.

The West Yorkshire city came sixth in the poll, while Manchester was first.

Liverpool was in second place, followed by Birmingham, Portsmouth/Southampton and Nottingham, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said.

The analysis compared the ease of driving from one part of a city or area to another at peak and off-peak times.

The first location to appear in the ranking which is not a primary urban area - as defined by the Centre for Cities - is Accrington/Rossendale, in Lancashire, which appears at number 26.

NIC chairman Sir John Armitt said the fact the cities occupy the first 25 spots demonstrates the need for major new investment in urban transport networks.

The organisation’s National Infrastructure Assessment recommends that more powers are devolved to metro mayors and local leaders to improve urban transport, backed by £43 billion of funding to 2040 on top of current spending plans.

Sir John said: “Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.” Leeds City Council is proposing to introduce measures for charging certain high-emission vehicles driving in inner-city locations in an effort to reduce the impact of high congestion.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “While Leeds is the second largest city outside London and so we would expect to be in a list like this, we acknowledge the impact that congestion has on the people who live and work in the city, as well as the economy and quality of life.

“Leeds has been working hard to tackle congestion and is committed to improving transport infrastructure in ways that will help reduce congestion.

!However, as this report acknowledges, to do so effectively will require greater powers be devolved so we can both develop local solutions and work with neighbouring authorities to plan better integrated transport solutions for the future.

"Improving transport takes significant long-term funding, and without consistent investment from central government to support both planning and delivery, it has been a challenge for Leeds and many other local authorities to provide the solutions we might have hoped.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We have overseen the successful devolution of powers to a number of metro mayors, and allocated a share of £840m over the next four years from the Transforming Cities Fund to give local leaders the flexibility to plan and invest in public transport in their cities.”

The other half of the fund is being allocated on a competitive basis to non-mayoral city regions.