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Leeds: Report urges a £19m trolleybus investment

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Council chiefs are being urged to spend more than £19m to help bridge a funding gap in the landmark trolleybus scheme.

The £250m project, which aims to run an eco-friendly commuter trolleybus through Leeds, would be paid for mainly by central Government although Leeds City Council and Metro are expected to foot a £57m bill.

It is hoped that the trolleybus, to be delivered by New Generation transport (NGT), will cut congestion through a 13km route linking Leeds city centre with Holt Park in the north and Stourton in the south.

But a report which will go before the council’s executive board next week, warns that a £20m funding gap in the scheme still exists and will need to be addressed by the council and Metro by 2016.

It says: “The NGT project is seeking to provide a high quality transport system that will help to support the growth of Leeds’s economy and improve the local environment by helping to address congestion.”

It also reveals that part of the route may now travel along Belle Isle Road and Winrose Grove, in Belle Isle, in a bid to avoid the planned HS2 line near Hunslet.

Councillors were also urged to agree to enter a joint venture agreement with Metro, before NGT seeks the full council’s approval and applies to the Transport Secretary for a Transport & Works Act Order later this year.

That would likely lead to a public inquiry in 2014, before construction begins in 2016/17.

Concerns have been raised over the impact that parts of the proposed route may have on green areas of Leeds like Woodhouse Moor, with Bill McKinnon, chairman of the Friends of Woodhouse Moor, describing the scheme as “crazy”.

Although more consultation is expected this year, the report says NGT will use results to amend designs “wherever possible to reflect local concerns”.

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