Civic leaders have issued their strongest rejection to date of claims that the Leeds trolleybus scheme could prove an expensive flop.
A senior councillor has released a briefing document to other local politicians that aims to address concerns raised in recent months by anti-trolleybus campaigners.
The document, which has been seen by the Yorkshire Evening Post, runs to 18 pages. It says:
* Trolleybus will ease traffic congestion by providing “fast and reliable journeys” and will benefit the Leeds economy to the tune of £160m each year;
* Opponents are attempting to paint the trolleybus team as unprofessional and liars;
* Arguments that trolleybus could drive a wedge between communities are “highly emotive and disingenuous”.
The briefing has been distributed by Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and economy.
It was sent out to councillors for wards along the proposed trolleybus route as well as local MPs.
Asked about the move, Coun Lewis told the YEP: “A major issue that becomes apparent when reading the views of many people in relation to [trolleybus] is there is a huge amount of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding the scheme.”
The document was put together by Metro, West Yorkshire’s publicly-funded passenger transport authority.
It is heading up the trolleybus – or New Generation Transport (NGT) – project with the council.
A spokesman for Metro said: “The NGT team has examined the allegations being made by local opposition and has provided factual information, much of which has been scrutinised and sanctioned by the Department for Transport, relating to those claims.”
Details of the document have come to light ahead of the start of a series of consultation events aimed at people living along the southern section of the trolleybus network.
Construction is expected to begin in 2016 on the £250m system, which will link the city centre with Holt Park in the north and Stourton in the south.
Campaigners have claimed the scheme will offer “pitiful” value for money while Leeds East MP George Mudie has condemned the plans as “unambitious”.