Budget 2021 Leeds: Residents of Leeds and business leaders set out their hopes for future transport in the city

Residents of Leeds and business leaders have set out their aspirations for future transport in the city - ahead of the budget announcement on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 6:00 am

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his Budget on Wednesday to detail plans for transport across the country.

Michael Edwards is the founder of The Northern Affinity, a collaboration of dynamic Northern businesses, powering growth and development from their base in Pudsey.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Mr Edwards said connecting Leeds to other cities across the North 'should be a priority'.

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Residents of Leeds and businesses have set out their aspirations for future transport in the city - ahead of the budget announcement on Wednesday. PA Wire

Mr Edwards believes bringing down cost barriers to accessing electric vehicles should be a priority in the city and believes every company car will be electric within a few years.

He said the work needs to start 'now' ahead of the budget on Wednesday.

Mr Edwards added: "Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and York should be such a major hub for business growth and focus on working together and becoming a place for business and people to aspire to live and work.

"There are huge incentives for businesses to lead the electric car revolution and it will be so important.

Rob Greenland is the co-director of local social enterprise Social Business Brokers CIC.

"Changing habits is hard and incentivising businesses and individuals by bringing down cost barriers to electric vehicles should be a priority.

"Every company car should be electric in the next few years, let’s force the change by forcing new habits and creating the infrastructure.

"Despite what we might think right now the huge issue of the next decade is the environment.

"We need to start this work now."

Michael Edwards is the founder of The Northern Affinity, a collaboration of dynamic Northern businesses, powering growth and development from their base in Pudsey.

James Greenhalgh, 30, is the owner of Flamingos Coffee House in Leeds city centre.

He told the YEP public transport will be 'key' to get residents back into the city centre when it is safe to do so.

Mr Greenhalgh said: "Short term, Central government grants to support bus routes should be increased to ensure that there are regular services into the city, perhaps even with a commuter discount to encourage people to get back into offices.

"Businesses like mine rely heavily on passing footfall from office folks.

"Longer term, I want to see government support for infrastructure projects and actual start dates so we can see diggers on the ground actually doing it.

"[For the budget] perhaps the Leeds tram project, more to help rail electrification and connectivity between Leeds and other cities, and a decision one way or the other on the Leeds part of HS2."

Rob Greenland is the co-director of local social enterprise Social Business Brokers CIC.

Speaking to the YEP, Mr Greenland called on the government to increase fuel duty after a ten year freeze and for further investment in cycle lanes across the city.

He added: "The freeze has contributed to driving becoming cheaper in real terms whilst public transport costs have increased, with impacts on congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions.

"Over that time the Treasury has lost an estimated £50 billion in revenue.

"We also need an increase in investment in measures that will encourage more people to take public transport or cycle, such as investment in a more comprehensive network of protected cycle lanes.

"There's plenty of evidence of more people choosing to cycle on quieter streets during lockdown.

"But they'll easily be put off cycling by having to share busier roads.

"If cycling short journeys becomes a more realistic option for more of us, then we all benefit, however we get around.

"Investment in protected cycle lanes also has the benefit of being a "shovel ready" project that can provide local employment as well making it easier to get around our city by bike."

The Campaign for Better Transport has called on the government to 'continue to provide the necessary financial support to keep buses and trains running during the pandemic to ensure services are there for people making essential journeys'.

The campaign group has also campaigned for increased investments 'to create an integrated public transport network fit for the future' within the budget set to be announced this week.

Ahead of the Budget on Wednesday March 3, Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport said: “Covid-19 has severely disrupted the transport system, but transport will be essential to the country’s recovery and to a cleaner, fairer future.

"The Chancellor must use the Budget to ensure communities have access to the public transport services they need both now and after the pandemic, as well as putting in place measures which will create a long-term shift to sustainable transport and away from a car-based recovery."

Last week, Northern airport bosses joined forces to call on the Government to back their struggling sector in the budget, while developing a manageable, realistic and cost-effective system that would enable travel to restart in May.

Leaders of gateways in all parts of the North - including Leeds Bradford Airport - have written to Boris Johnson urging him to recognise the importance of aviation and travel to his levelling-up and global Britain ambitions, by providing the direct financial support needed to protect the industry until it is able to fully re-open.

In an unprecedented move, the bosses have written to the Prime Minister collectively saying it is more important than ever that the Government provides dedicated additional support measures that recognise the unique way airport businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and their critical role in recovery.

The letter states a number of options the Government could consider including relief from fixed costs paid to Government.

The letter said: "Whilst significant support has been given to other ‘closed’ sectors of the economy, airports which have now had their trade further restricted are yet to receive support in light of new measures.

"Aviation will bounce back, but tens of thousands of jobs across the UK face falling off the cliff edge unless furlough for this industry is extended post April.

Other measures highlighted include reducing taxes levied on passengers to help stimulate demand as restrictions are eased.

Barry White is Chief Executive at Transport for the North.

In a statement provided to the YEP, he said: “This budget is absolutely critical for the North of England and the levelling up agenda. With potential lifting of restrictions on the horizon, all attention needs to be on how we recover from the economic shockwave Covid has caused.

“Long-term investment in infrastructure must be a priority to, quite literally, build back better and greener than what we’ve had in the past. We’re clear, transport must be a cornerstone of that recovery plan.

"Not only do transport schemes create jobs and an economic boost during delivery, they give certainty to councils and businesses to invest in their communities with the firm commitment of better connections.

"That’s why last year we submitted an Economic Recovery Plan to Government with a raft of early schemes that could be delivered over the next five years to spur on that recovery. It would be great to see some of those schemes committed.

“In the short term, we’d also like to see commitment to initiatives that will deliver flexible tickets for passengers as they begin to return to public transport. The big prize for the North will however remain full commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in the North, to put rocket boosters under the economy and enhance quality of life.”

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