MP brands Leeds trolleybus scheme ‘second best solution’

LEEDS North West MP Greg Mulholland says the public should not forced into accepting the £250m Leeds trolleybus scheme as a “second best solution” as he prepares to meet Transport Minister Claire Perry over the issue.

Liberal Democrat MP Mr Mulholland wants the government to allow people in Leeds to consider all options, including light rail and tram-train transport systems.

A six month public inquiry ended late last year on the proposed New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus scheme, which would run over a nine-mile route between Holt Park in the north of the city and Stourton in the south.

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Government ministers are expected to announce at the end of this year or the start of next whether the scheme will go ahead.

A date is yet to be set for the meeting between Mr Mulholland and Miss Perry, who told him in the Commons last week that “local people are best placed to make decisions about local transport.”

Mr Mulholland said: “Leeds must be allowed to consider all options and all routes, as part of a city wide integrated transport plan. Leeds should not be forced into accepting a second best solution due to a decision taken by the last Labour government, that is ludicrous. The new Government needs to allow us to consider all options, including light rail and tram-train, like other leading cites in this country and the rest of Europe.”

A West Yorkshire Combined Authority spokesman, said: “New Generation Transport was subject to significant public scrutiny during the 72-day Inquiry which was an opportunity for the combined authority and Leeds City Council to present the significant transport and economic benefits that will result from the scheme and a chance for those local people opposed to the scheme to present any evidence that supports their claims.

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“NGT addresses transport problems that everyone recognises needs addressing but for which no realistic, robust or affordable alternative has been proposed. We are confident that the case for the scheme is compelling and now await the inspector’s findings and the Secretary of State’s decision.”

Construction work on the system could start by early 2017 if the plans get the thumbs-up.

NGT supporters say the scheme would be worth £175m each year to the Leeds economy. However, critics claim it would offer poor value for money and damage the environment.

As previously reported by the YEP, the cost of the six-month inquiry into the project has been estimated at as much as £2.6m.

The West Yorkshire Combine Authority includes what was Metro, West Yorkshire’s passenger transport authority. Its fellow NGT promoter is Leeds City Council.