YEP Says, August 21: Infuriating wait for Leeds Trolleybus inquiry outcome

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And so we wait. The report that will decide the fate of Leeds’s Trolleybus scheme remains (no doubt gathering dust) on a desk somewhere in the Department for Transport, a decision now not likely expected until late this year or early next, we are told.

And so we wait. The report that will decide the fate of Leeds’s Trolleybus scheme remains (no doubt gathering dust) on a desk somewhere in the Department for Transport, a decision now not likely expected until late this year or early next, we are told.

Frankly, our patience is wearing thin. And we imagine this applies to the rest of the city too. Leaving aside the eyewatering costs of the inquiry headed by Government-appointed inspector Martin Whitehead, the fact that there is still no end date in sight regarding one of the city’s most pressing transport issues is frustrating to say the least.

Government ministers handed Leeds’s Trolleybus project £170m in the summer of 2012. However, the scheme’s promoters – Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority – still need to secure a Transport Works Act Order (TWAO) for legal permission to commission, build and operate the system. All of this hangs on Mr Whitehead’s report.

As congestion on Leeds roads has become even more chronic, and rush-hour trains even more overcrowded, commuters have endured a decade of indecision – first the much-vaunted Supertram was axed and opinion is still divided about the merits of the Trolleybus scheme. Contrast this with the decisive decisions taken in competitor cities like Sheffield, Manchester and Nottingham which have not only embraced tram travel, but have actually got on and built state-of-the-art transport networks that have made a material difference to their economic prosperity.

If they can do it, why is decision-making regarding Leeds stuck in the slow lane when it comes to the city’s future transport infrastructure?

It is a question that needs to be answered sooner rather than later if the city is to make the most of the opportunities now being afforded by the Northern Powerhouse.

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PIC: Simon Hulme

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