YEP Says, July 24: Golden first year as Leeds Arena repays ambition in spades

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...and why it’s time to mind the gap on the motorway

THE Leeds Arena didn’t officially open until October last year – but having hosted rock legend Bruce Springsteen on this day 12 months ago, today effectively marks its first birthday.

Looking back at its success over that period, it’s hard to believe that there were ever any doubts as to whether it should be built. But there were.

Labour councillors tried to derail the decision by the then ruling Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition to spend half of the £51m windfall from the sale of Leeds-Bradford Airport on building it.

Fortunately, they failed. And, with the benefit of hindsight, they must surely be as pleased as everyone else that they did.

Because if Leeds was going to move up a league and show it could compete with other major cities, it had to show some long overdue ambition. It needed to put in the type of infrastructure that big-hitters like Manchester and Liverpool take for granted.

And look what has followed. The Trinity shopping complex was built on the back of this new-found confidence, with Victoria Gate to follow. And would the Tour de France have come here without it? Doubtful.

At the time, the YEP said that if we built it, the big stars would come. And they have. In spades.

So here’s to the arena. And let’s hope the scale of ambition that saw it built in the face of all that opposition only gets bigger and bigger.

It’s time to mind the gap on the motorway

REGULAR users of the M1 on the way in and out of Leeds won’t be surprised that it’s reckoned to have the highest volume of tailgating traffic in England.

The research by Direct Line underlines the fact that this is one of the busiest – and most congested – stretches of motorway in the country.

But while it’s easy to explain why people drive close to another car, it’s far harder to justify. Each year, 1,700 injuries and around five deaths are caused by motorists not leaving a big enough gap to the vehicle in front.

The simple fact is that tailgating won’t get you to your destination any quicker.

Unless, of course, it’s the local hospital.