West Yorkshire councils want to pursue mass transit plans without government intervention
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The plans, which will include a route linking Bradford city centre with areas including Leeds city centre, Cleckheaton, Holme Wood and Junction 26 of the M62, are currently being developed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority – a body made up of all five West Yorkshire Councils.
At a meeting of the Authority’s Transport Committee on Friday, members were told by officers that the Authority would aim to work closer with the Government on the mass transit plans.
However, Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council Leader and lead on Transport on the Combined Authority, said the plans would be better off developed locally, without any Government interference.
Throughout the meeting members had spoke of how last year’s Government announcement to scrap the long promised Northern Powerhouse Rail line linking the East and West coast via West Yorkshire had “pulled the rug” from under the Authority.
Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “I’m not sure I want to have a closer relationship with Government on mass transit.
“We are a Mayoral authority with transport powers, and we should be able to sort out our own mass transit plans without constantly going back to the Government and asking ‘can we do this route, that route, this bridge, that road?’
“We know what we need to do, and we can forge our own destiny. We don’t need it constantly being signed off by Government.
“We need to be clear, we have powers and the Government need to trust us to get on with what we know how to do.”
Councillor Helen Hayden (Lab, Temple Newsam) said the recent rail announcement had felt like the Government had “pulled the rug” from under West Yorkshire. She added: “When it comes to mass transit we can’t depend on the Government delivering for West Yorkshire and the North. We will have to do this on our own. Hopefully we will be given the full capacity in terms of finances, but it has to be led and delivered by us in West Yorkshire.
“We live in West Yorkshire and travel round West Yorkshire – we know what it best.”
Speaking about mass transit and other Transport projects in the meeting, Councillor Charlie Keith (Lab, Wrenthorpe and Outwood West) said: “The Government comes along and gives us Mayoral powers and autonomy, but it comes with strings attached to every penny.
“It comes down to the fact that when it comes to paying up, the Government will always welsh on their deal. With all the schemes they talk about, we have to make sure we hold their feet to the fire, otherwise they will continue to make promises they have no intention of keeping.”
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