'Use the budget to end Leeds gridlock misery' - Chancellor told
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The respected Centre for Cities think tank is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use next week’s Budget to set out how it will target transport investment in major cities such as Leeds.
The think tanks says current levels of congestion in Leeds are holding back productivity.
The Centre for Cities analysed 62 of Britain’s largest cities and towns and found that poor public transport provision is holding back economic growth in Leeds, saying that commuting speeds into the city centre “stand out for the time that it takes”.
It also claims that the national economy is missing out on because most of the UK’s large cities like Leeds fall well behind their European counterparts.
The call is made as the YEP runs its Unlock the Gridlock campaign to improve the city’s transport links.
It wants the Government to invest £31bn into urban transport outside of London over the next two decades, something it said was essential for the UK’s future growth.
Also, it said that ministers should agree to the funding of new infrastructure in the cities have come up with 25 per cent of the capital locally, with some coming from congestion charging, saying this could raise £300 million a year for new infrastructure in Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester alone.
Centre for Cities Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “We must not make the mistake of thinking that investment in trains, trams and buses will automatically create economic growth – it won’t.
“But a failure to invest in transport in congested cities where it is needed will stall growth and cost the UK economy billions of pounds.
“Different places face very different challenges.
“Where transport is one of those challenges, the Government should accept the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation to spend £32 billion on new transport in cities outside London. This will add capacity to the transport network, make it easier for commuters into congested city centres and add billions to the national economy.
“But national and local government should be cautious of spreading transport investment too thinly.
“Investing in transport infrastructure where demand, rather than supply, is the issue is unlikely to bring more prosperity to these places. Policy must instead tailor its approach to the challenges these cities face.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been record lamenting the UK’s ‘inadequate infrastructure’. The Centre for Cities argues that addressing poorly-performing transport networks in cities plagued by the worst congestion is one way to close the productivity gap between cities in the North and Midlands and those in the South – and to ‘level up’ the national economy.
Leeds remains the largest city in Western Europe to lack a mass transit system.
Two attempts to bring one to the city in recent years were botched although a third attempt is currently the subject of public consultation.