From: Thomas Harvey, Ilkley.
LIKE many people across Leeds, I was offended and dismayed by Councillor Richard Lewis’s recent comments regarding Leeds and its lack of transport problems.
The fact that a person in such high office can be so out of touch with those whom he is meant to represent is astounding and this attitude – one that is seemingly reflected by others around him – is potentially damaging our city and its future prosperity.
I’m extremely disappointed to hear of the proposed intentions of Leeds City Council to spend the ring-fenced trolleybus money on various smaller projects. The patchwork approach provides minimal, short-term benefit and the city is now at a stage where it absolutely must push for something more significant and end the reliance on monopolised bus routes and our clogged road network. Whether or not Leeds actually does fair better when it comes to arbitrary congestion figures and average commute times, Mr Lewis surely cannot deny that the benefits of a metro system would be far reaching.
Frankly, it astounds me to hear such a lack of ambition from the leaders of this city, especially when I see the progress being made by our neighbour across the Pennines. It often feels as though the city is being led by a team of rural parish councillors, and not the forward-thinking members of one of the UK’s largest cities.
London and the South East aside, it has not gone unnoticed that recent governments, both Tory and Labour, have chosen to invest heavily in Manchester (perhaps as to be seen to be investing in the “North”?), possibly at the expense of Leeds. However, given that in the last two or thee decades we have seen tram networks built in other, smaller, regional cities then the blame can only lie with the successive leaders of this city. Our influence, skills at lobbying and our ability to formulate a sufficiently ambitious and alluring solution is clearly lacking.
On the near continent you’ll find cities much smaller than our own with efficient metro systems. Montpellier – France’s eighth city, with a population of around a third of Leeds – has a four-line tram network.
Whilst I can appreciate that this sum of money will barely scratch the surface in terms of delivering a city-wide, joined up transport system that Leeds so desperately needs, it is too significant an amount of money to not go towards something much bigger and meaningful. It would seem that the biggest problem with the Leeds transport network is in fact those that are directly responsible for managing it.