MPs urge Minister to back city transport investment

MPs have made a personal plea to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond urging him to fund three vital schemes to unlock congestion in the region.

Politicians from all three parties have signed a letter to Mr Hammond to accompany the final bids for funding for the schemes in and around Leeds.

Business leaders have also been urged to support the projects, which include bringing trolleybuses to the streets of Leeds, two new stations which would allow development schemes to go ahead and improvements to the city’s inner ring road.

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The letter, written by Alec Shelbrooke, Tory MP for Elmet and Rothwell, said: “I believe these projects are essential to the future prosperity and economic investment of this region. We need these projects to be funded now rather than seeing the investment being diverted to other parts of the country.”

The schemes are among dozens bidding for a slice of £700m from the Department for Transport. The deadline for bids was yesterday and officials will now assess them before decisions are made by the end of the year.

West Yorkshire transport authority Metro says the case for each of the three schemes is “robust”, with less than £50m being sought from the Government before 2015, Other organisations have pledged to make contributions of £80m toward the projects.

Trolleybuses will be introduced if the New Generation Transport project gets the go-ahead, improving links into Leeds and easing congestion, while repairs are needed to the inner ring road.

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The third project would see new stations at Kirkstall Forge, to the west of the city, allowing a £350m development of offices, shops and leisure venues to go ahead, and Apperley Bridge, which would serve communities on the outskirts of Bradford, Apperley Bridge, Yeadon and Guiseley.

Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis said: “Our region has already suffered from a legacy of underspending on transport by successive governments and by showing their support business leaders can play an active and essential part in beginning the reversal of that trend.”