I am writing in response to your recent article on the Leeds trolleybus (YEP, 8 January) to challenge a number of inaccuracies or out-dated claims made by committed opponents of the scheme.
Contrary to the Green Party’s Christopher Foren’s claims that NGT will only marginally improve journey times, as a result of the segregation from general traffic, dedicated lanes and junction priority at key points along the route, it will save morning commuters 14 minutes over current bus times on their daily journeys from the Bodington Park and Ride site to Leeds City Centre. Combined with a 12 minute saving on their return journeys in the evening peak it will cut their weekly commute by over two hours.
At the same time daily journeys to and from the city centre to and from the Stourton Park & Ride would be six minutes quicker than the equivalent bus journeys meaning trolleybus commuters would save 50 minutes per week.
When an update of the NGT Business Case is issued at the end of this month, reflecting a number of key design changes which have been made following an extensive consultation process, a significant refinement of the NGT scheme design means that any disadvantage to other highway users has been virtually eliminated addressing a key concern I know has been raised in my many meetings with residents and the business community. Further refinements are expected over time to completely eliminate this disadvantage and even create a benefit through more efficient highway operation.
Additionally the benefits to the local economy generated by additional jobs NGT will support in Leeds city centre and the £200m increase in local Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will dwarf any changes in tax take due to changes in public transport receipts and fuel sales about which Christopher Foren is concerned.
Turning to some of the other issues raised, smartcard ticketing is not an alternative to the NGT scheme, as suggested, but complementary. Over 450,000 people in West Yorkshire are already using smartcards, with more developments to come this spring.
NGT did not start life, as your article states, ‘as a political gimmick when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg turned up in Leeds in July 2012 brandishing a cheque for £175m.’ Metro has spent over six years on the plans with councillors from all major parties in Leeds and the Greens voting to develop the scheme for successful submission to the Department for Transport. This has been followed by widespread public consultation and, in the spring, a cross-party vote to go to a Transport and Works Act Order and Inquiry.
This process, which has secured £173.5m of never-to-be-seen-again Government investment for Leeds’ transport infrastructure, is certainly not indecision.
Speculation that the money for NGT could be spent on alternative proposals is simply not the case. Apart from the £173.5m of Department for Transport investment earmarked for NGT, the only Government funding for transport available for West Yorkshire over the next 10 years is £183m, which will help to pay for the wide range of schemes I have already mentioned.
If Mr Foren’s new proposals were to be implemented, they would have to be done so through additional taxes on local people, which in accordance with the Government’s version of localism, would require a referendum.
Along with new rail stations and better trains, the new Leeds Station Southern Entrance, the electrification of more local rail routes, major highways improvements and the new 23km Cycle Superhighway connecting Bradford and Leeds, an overhaul of how and where buses run and in the longer term HS2, NGT is a cornerstone of transport and regeneration plans for West Yorkshire and the Leeds City region.
Coun James Lewis, chairman, Metro
Revenue from congestion
BURIED IN the acres of documents produced by trolleybus wallahs is a dizzying spreadsheet assessing the key impacts of the £250m scheme.
Right at the bottom, it states that the public purse would be hit by a £20m reduction in revenue from regular bus fares, as passengers switch from buses to trolleybuses.
But it explains that this loss would be made up in part from increased fuel duty resulting from additional congestion. All those cars sat bumper-to-bumper with their engines ticking over.
It gives additional fuel duty resulting from the scheme as £1.3m.
This tells us two things. 1) Trolleybus will make car congestion worse and 2) Motorists will have to fork out an extra £1.5m in tax.
Ian Harker, Stanmore Crescent, Burley
Pensioners got Tories elected
I feel I must write regarding the latest debacle issued from the Tory Party through George Osborne. He says, if elected in 2015 he will cut the pensioners’ TV allowance and pensioners’ bus passes.
Has he no concept that it was these very pensioners who got the Tory Party elected in the first place in 2010?
I hope he and his fellow idiots carry on with their ludicrous proposals then we can see the back of them for good. Tax the poor and needy. Tax the old and infirm. Tax breaks for the rich and powerful. That’s the Tories. Roll on 2015.
Mel Smart, Farsley
5.30am on Boxing Day...
I AM naturally delighted to read that the Christmas season has been so successful for retailers in Leeds (YEP, January 10).
But, 600 customers queueing outside Next in the Trinity Centre at 5.30am on Boxing Day? I know where I was at 5.30am on Boxing Day and there was not a department store in sight.....
John Hutchinson, Kippax
Playing ‘piggy’ in the 1940s
REgarding CHILDHOOD games in the 1940s, we played a dumbed down (poor man’s) version of knurr and spell and called it “piggy”.
The pig was a four inch piece of brush handle tapered at both ends to a point, the end was tapped with an 18 inch stick again a piece of brush handle, lifting the piggy, then hit it as far as possible. Depending on the size of the field we had a one hit game or a three hit game. Distance was strode out for the farthest. Memories!
Peter Bentley, by email
EU finance help for Yorks firms
WE regularly visit lots of small and medium sized businesses around the region. On these visits many business owners raise with us that one of the biggest hurdles they have to overcome is access to finance.
To tackle this problem we are pleased to support the introduction of a new EU scheme called COSME. With a planned budget of €2.3bn this scheme is designed to specifically support small and medium sized companies through better access to finance for such businesses – through means such as a loan guarantee facility, helping with access to market, supporting entrepreneurs and creating more favourable conditions for business creation and growth.
It is important that businesses in this region do not miss out on this scheme.
As Liberal Democrats we want to see the economy here grow in the Yorkshire and Humber region and as MEPs we are pleased to see the European Parliament playing a role in making that happen. We would urge businesses to get in contact with us f0r more information about the COSME programme. You can reach us by calling 01482 850155.
Edward McMillan-Scott and Rebecca Taylor, Liberal Democrat MEPs for Yorkshire and the Humber