Government promise to 'accelerate' Thorpe Park and White Rose Rail Stations just 'reannouncements of existing schemes', claims Leeds council leader

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The leader of Leeds City Council has accused the Government of “re-announcing” work that is already taking place in Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s growth plan, published today.

As part of the report, the Government announced it would support the speeding up of building new rail stations in Thorpe Park and White Rose, adding they should begin construction “by the end of 2023”.

It added that improvements to increase access and the frontage at Leeds City Station, expected to be completed by 2024, should also start before the end of next year.

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However, the leader of Leeds City Council James Lewis said the schemes were “nothing Leeds isn’t already doing”, and called on the Chancellor to instead announce proper support for new transport infrastructure.

An artist's impression for White Rose Rail Station, for which construction work has already begun.An artist's impression for White Rose Rail Station, for which construction work has already begun.
An artist's impression for White Rose Rail Station, for which construction work has already begun.

Speaking to the YEP, Coun Lewis said: “What the government has announced today are projects that are already planned and in some cases well underway in Leeds, there is nothing new and nothing that we aren't already doing.

"What we need in Leeds is investment in a mass transport system and high speed rail including Northern Powerhouse Rail through Bradford and the eastern leg of HS2.

"Simply re-announcing existing projects contributes nothing to so-called Levelling Up and we need to see action on the long promised transformational schemes we’ve been long promised.”

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Plans, listed in the Government’s Growth Plan 2022, come alongside Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s controversial “mini budget”, in which he announced numerous areas of tax cuts aimed at higher earners. This is despite the cost of living crisis expected to force millions into poverty this winter.

The Thorpe Park site, but the station is currently expected to be up and running by summer 2024.

Planners hope White Rose Station, for which construction work has already started, will open at some time in 2023.

Thorpe Park Station sits on the Transpennine route, between Cross Gates and Garforth.

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White Rose Station also sits on the Transpennine line to the southwest of Leeds city centre, and will replace Cottingley Station.

The Government report, which lists 138 infrastructure projects across the UK, said: “The list below sets out infrastructure projects which will be accelerated as fast as possible, aiming to get the vast majority starting construction by the end of 2023.

"These projects may benefit from acceleration through planning reform, regulatory reform, improved processes or other options to speed up their development and construction, including through development consent processes.”

The document warned that a scheme’s presence on the list would not guarantee funding or planning consent list does not guarantee, where applicable, funding, planning consent or approval.

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It added: “Where local authorities or agencies are the delivery leads, it is the government’s intent to support where possible in acceleration.”

Under the new leadership of Liz Truss, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined a series of tax cuts and other economic measures today, including cutting the basic rate of income tax to 19p and abolishing the 45 per cent top rate of tax for higher earners.

A scheduled increase in National Insurance has also been reversed.

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Other changes in today’s announcement include the stamp duty threshold in England and Northern Ireland raised to £250,000 or £425,000 for first-time buyers.

In addition to this, the cap on bankers’ bonuses has been lifted, and a planned rise in corporation tax has also been scrapped.