AN unseemly row has broken out between a council chief and an MP over whether Leeds has a traffic problem, especially at rush hours.
Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning at Leeds Council, has been accused of “complacency” after saying this week that the city did not suffer from traffic problems.
He said: “We don’t actually have a transport problem. Traffic moves relatively easy along Leeds at peak times.
“We are not in a terrible place at the moment but we want to be better.”
Coun Lewis was responding to calls for the resurrection of plans for a modern mass transit network in the city - which were abandoned after being rejected by the Department for Transport in May.
But Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, who believes Leeds risks lagging behind other major cities if the council opts only to implement smaller schemes to improve the existing network, said he was “astounded” at Coun Lewis’s “complacency”.
He said: “I simply cannot believe that the councillor, who is responsible for transport in the city, could hold this view. I have been overwhelmed by comments from people across Leeds who are outraged at his complacency.”
He added: “This attitude might explain why Leeds remains the largest city in Europe without a modern public transport system.”
Mr Mulholland said: “It has now become clear that not only does the Council have no overall plan for better public transport in the city, but they don’t even aspire to one. I am quite simply astounded by such a lack of vision from our civic leaders.”
Responding to Mr Mulholland’s comments, Coun Lewis today told The Yorkshire Post: “If I think of all the work we do and how much work goes on to improve our roads and transport infrastructure, and to hear this nonsense it just beggars belief.
“I wasn’t saying we didn’t have a problem, what I was saying is that compared to some cities which already have tram or transit systems, we don’t have that congestion.
“We are actively trying to come up with a [transport] solution, I wish I could say the same about Greg Mulholland.”
Coun Lewis said his traffic comments were based on Department for Transport figures.
He added: “In comparison with other cities, traffic moves around Leeds at peak times at a fairly reasonable speed, that is based on Department for Transport figures. It is around 24mph,
“That’s not to say we don’t want it to be quicker.
“If we were complacent, we wouldn’t have introduced park and ride schemes, we wouldn’t have refurbished the inner ring road, we wouldn’t have upgraded two roundabouts on the ring road, or worked wit other West Yorkshire authorities to have a billion pound West Yorkshire Transport Fund.
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