MP Alex Sobel asks Government when it will give Leeds cash to build a mass-transit system

A Leeds MP has pressed the Government on when the city can expect the substantial amount of cash needed to build a mass-transit system.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 11:45 am

Alex Sobel, Labour MP for Leeds North West, spoke during Queens Speech Debate, highlighting the city's huge transport problems and demanding the Government fulfil their election manifesto commitment to more funding.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed in parliament to "remedy the scandal that Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without light rail or a metro".

The lack of such a system was also highlighted in the Conservative Party manifesto.

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MP Alex Sobel gives the thumbs down to a Northern Pacer train.

During the debate in parliament last week, Mr Sobel said: "I understand that Leeds is the only city outside London with a specific commitment.

"Conservative Members will have read their manifesto more carefully than me, so if I am wrong, I am sure that they will correct me, although there are not many here at the moment to do so.

Traffic gridlock in Leeds city centre.

"They may also be interested to know that I agree with that line in the Conservative manifesto—they can take that to the bank.

"When can the good people of Leeds whom I represent expect the necessary funding to be released to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to undertake a project of this scale, which will take many years to deliver?

"The Conservative manifesto also stated: “We will give city regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train services to make them as good as London’s”.

"That is excellent—when can we start work on it, Secretary of State [for Transport, Grant Shapps]?

Mr Shapps replied later after many other MPs had also contributed to the debate, which focused on reducing the UK's carbon emissions.

He said: "One point I would make straight off the bat is that, although there has been quite a bit of heat and light in this debate, there is actually an awful lot on which we entirely agree.

"This House has, after all, voted under this Government to get to zero carbon by 2050.

"There is almost an auction of ambition about how we get there in the fastest way.

"It is right and proper that we challenge each other with different ideas, many of which have come through the contributions this afternoon, in order to come up with new ideas.

Some of them are, I think, ideas that could be taken further, particularly in the field of transport."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Sobel praised some of the measures put forward by WYCA to impove transport in the region, but added: “I am excited by the prospect of this, our city is showing the necessary ambition but it is down to government to put its money where its mouth is and give us the resources to ensure a transport system that is fit for purpose and fits our commitment to net zero Carbon by 2030.”