Judith Blake has issued an open invite to Theresa May to come and visit Leeds for the first time since her premiership began - and to see why “serious investment” in the city’s transport future will pay massive dividends far beyond regional boundaries.
The leader of Leeds City Council was speaking as she yesterday launched a new online questionnaire asking people for their views and ideas as part of the next phase of a major survey on transport strategy.
City bosses want to know how people currently use the transport network in Leeds, and how they view the experience in terms of comfort, value for money and the time involved in making journeys.
They also want to gauge opinion on what the city’s priorities should be in terms of future investment in the network and any other suggestions on possible improvements.
The questionnaire can be filled in here.
Speaking to the YEP at the new southern entrance to Leeds Rail Station, Coun Blake said; “A city as diverse and geographically large as Leeds has many different needs, so we are encouraging as many people as possible to let us know their stories and put forward their ideas.”
She said feedback would help inform detailed work to get further “serious investment” into the city to address the “major issues” we have. The money will add to £173.5m the Government has already pledged from the scrapped NGT trolleybus scheme.
Coun Blake acknowledged that previous conversations have tended to focus on rail, but in a city like Leeds, many people actually use buses to get around.
Asked if it was time for the people of Leeds to finally get some concrete answers on transport after 30 years of failures and the double disappointment of Supertram and the trolleybus, she said: “Yes, we have set up a separate scrutiny inquiry to have a look what happened with two major schemes both cancelled at the last minute.
“This cannot continue. And we believe also very strongly that we need to make the case that if the ability to raise money is devolved down to local areas, we are in a much better place to be able to make the decisions we need in terms of the investment and the new ways to move around that we need to bring in.”
“I have written to Theresa May in my role as chair Core cities,” Coun Blake added.
“I am very keen for her to come up and we’ve already had conversations with the new Secretary of State for Local Government.
“We will be encouraging them to come and see exactly what it is we need to happen.”
And asked if action was now more important than conversation, she added: “I think we have already started to see action and I think that’s part of the consultation, to talk to people about new park and rides coming in, new stations, major investment to railways.
“So let’s look at what is successful, what people are using where we have invested money, and build from that.”