A Yorkshire Evening Post article was published today revealing more details of the proposed mass transit system. The article is based on a new report by West Yorkshire Combined Authority which states that the East Leeds, Bradford to Leeds and South Leeds to Dewsbury routes will be among the first to be built. Page 16 of the report states that the system will comprise a mixture of bendybuses and trams. It states that the bendybuses will carry 120 people and have seats for between 30 to 50 of these people. Page 16 also states that these technologies are “new” to West Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Evening Post article and (so far as I can see), no other media article mentions that bendybuses form part of the plan. Has WYCA forgotten one of the reasons the trolleybus inspector gave for rejecting the trolleybus? On page 634 of his report, he stated, “. . . it is likely that a significant number of passengers would have to stand on the trolley vehicles, particularly during the peak times, and this would act as a deterrent to their use and a potential safety risk on the articulated vehicles.” The proposed new system is supported by West Yorkshire’s mayor, Tracy Brabin, as well as the leaders of the five councils which make up West Yorkshire, including our own Councillor James Lewis.
The draft Leeds Safer Roads Vision Zero 2040 strategy is the council’s plan to improve road safety and eliminate road deaths and serious injuries in Leeds by 2040. They want to know what you think about Vision Zero and its objectives. To this end, they’re holding an online consultation exercise, a drop-in event and on online webinar. The drop-in event and webinar will take place as follows:
Drop-in event: Tuesday 22 March, 12pm – 5:30pm at Leeds Kirkgate Market, Vicar Lane LS2 7HY
Online webinar: Friday 25 March, 12pm – 1pm
The consultation exercise ends on Sunday 24th April.
From the 31st May onwards, local authorities will be able to issue £70 fixed penalty notices to anyone (a) parking on the pavement, (b) opening their car door in the path of an oncoming cyclist, (c) stopping in yellow box junctions, and (d) driving in a cycle lane.
You can read more about the forthcoming changes in this article by the online magazine Heart.
The government announced today that it is to scrap the leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Leeds. The government stated that what is to replace HS2 will be faster and deliverable ten years sooner than HS2. If replacing HS2 has such huge benefits, one can only guess as to why the leg of HS2 between Birmingham and Manchester hasn’t been scrapped too.
As a consolation to Leeds, the prime minister announced that the city will be given £200 million to start planning its own tram system – money which is presumably intended for consultants. You can read more on this here.
According to an article published in today’s Mail on Sunday, ministers are expected to scrap the eastern leg of HS2, with the high-speed track no longer being laid from Birmingham to Leeds. As a consolation, Leeds is to get its own tram network.
The plans which are expected to appear in the government’s soon to be published integrated rail plan, have drawn criticism that the Prime Minister is abandoning a key part of his ‘levelling up’ agenda.
As well as the eastern leg change, there has been speculation that the Government may downgrade plans for a high-speed east-west line across the Pennines amid concerns over mounting costs.
In his October 2021 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that West Yorkshire is to receive £830m to improve transport infrastructure.
West Yorkshire’s mayor, Tracy Brabin welcomed the announcement and said there was now the possibility that preparatory work could begin on a mass transit system for Leeds.
You can read more of what the mayor said in this Yorkshire Evening Post article.
And you can read the mayor’s reaction to the budget here.
The planned Leeds Bradford Airport extension was discussed on this morning’s Today programme. Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate took part:
Nick Robinson: More than a third of councils in England are advocating policies that could increase carbon emissions, whilst at the same time having declared what they call a “climate emergency.” That’s the finding of BBC research, done with the assistance as ever, of our energy and environment analyst Roger Harrabin. Tell us more Roger.
Roger Harrabin: Well, it was a really good result to the survey. 90% as you say, have declared a climate emergency. And others told us that actually, they were taking climate change really seriously as well. But they weren’t quite comfortable necessarily with the “emergency” word. It’s taken a long time. Obviously, councillors normally pre-occupied with what they’re elected for: local services, housing, transport and waste. But now we’re seeing a different sort of priorities coming in. There’s widespread priority for walking and cycling. Newcastle for instance says it wants to become a 15 minute city where you can do everything within 15 minutes on foot or by bike that you would want to do. Coventry has an ultra light rail system they’re looking at. Kensington and Chelsea, quite interesting here. They’re thinking of charges per gram of CO2 for parking, and widespread home insulation. But as you say, one in three of those councils who’s declared an emergency, is still backing projects that are pushing in the opposite direction. Road building or airports for instance. Leeds aims to be one of the top green cities in the UK. It’s record is really impressive in many ways, but it’s still backing airport expansion. And their climate leader, Helen Hayden, explains their dilemma:
Councillor Helen Hayden: It’s extremely difficult to get that balance right, and there are always going to be competing factors. If we don’t expand, the fear is that somebody else will and that economic growth will go elsewhere.
Nick Robinson: Roger, isn’t that where we are just now? Which is almost all politicians of all colours declare that they think there is a crisis. But when it comes to the question of, “Who pays for us to rip out our gas boiler, to drive an electric car, or indeed to stop flying?” – no one’s quite clear what the answers are.
Roger Harrabin: That’s exactly right Nick, and not just in the UK. I mean, wherever you look round the world, the urgency of the situation is now upon us. You know, the IPCC report earlier on in the week. I mean a lot of people found frankly frightening. But how you translate that into policy, to nudge business as usual, that’s a different matter. If you ask climate experts, they’ll say with an issue like Leeds and the airport for instance. We have now to install a policy where at national or local or international level, there should be no spending on policies that increase emissions. They see that as very simple. They’re looking for the UK government and local councils to impose a policy like that. And you mentioned money. The National Audit Office back the local councils actually, when they say they’re not getting enough money. And they’re urging the government to prioritise spending through local governments because they say it’s the most efficient way of doing it.
Nick Robinson: Roger Harrabin, thank you.
You can listen to the above extract from the Today programme here.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for Infrastructure and Climate, Councillor Helen Hayden, was interviewed earlier this evening by BBC Look North presenter Phil Bodmer. Councillor Hayden spoke about the council’s decision to approve the airport’s planning application to expand, the need for the government to have a policy on airport expansion in the UK, and the need for funding. You can watch the interview here.
GALBA (Groups Against Leeds Bradford Airport) is appealing for your help:
“The government recently announced its new ‘Jet Zero’ draft strategy for the future of aviation. With its over-reliance on unproven future technology and its failure to accept the Climate Change Committee’s advice that aviation expansion must be stopped, this draft strategy is dangerous and reckless. It also has the potential to shape all aviation decisions in the UK for the foreseeable future, including the decision by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick on whether to call in LCC’s approval of Leeds Bradford Airport’s planning application, and put it before a public inquiry.
We urgently need your help to help fight Jet Zero. Please consider doing one (or all) of the actions below…
- Respond to the consultation before the 8th September.
- Write to your MP to ask them to exert their influence.
- Write to the press about Jet Zero.
We have produced a set of guide responses, should you find this helpful. This link: https://www.galba.uk/jet-zero-consultation takes you directly to these guide responses and the email address to send them to.
The GALBA Committee
Our key concerns about Jet Zero are as follows:
- The government has chosen to ignore key recommendations from the Climate Change Committee, its own expert climate advisers, and instead to accept the UK aviation industry’s proposals.
- In doing so, it has failed to act on CCC advice that passenger growth must be limited first and foremost by stopping airport expansion. Instead, the government is relying almost entirely on claims that carbon net-zero flying can be achieved by 2050 by relying purely on as yet unproven new technology, ‘sustainable fuels’ and offsetting.
- There are well documented problems and huge uncertainties associated with all of the technical solutions proposed in Jet Zero.
- In choosing to put all its bets on the industry’s untested techo-fixes, the government is taking a huge gamble with everyone’s future. We need more than a ‘wing & a prayer’ to decarbonise aviation.”
These much overdue changes are to be really welcomed; however, it is unfortunate that they are presented solely as benefits for pedestrians and cyclists.
The changes mean that in their driving habits, drivers will have to make a move towards defensive driving. This will primarily protect drivers from deaths, injuries and vehicle damage, with a consequent reduction in insurance costs.
Even non-drivers have friends and relatives who drive and we should be as concerned about driver safety as well as safety for active travellers.
In many ways, drivers are the primary victims of political apathy towards road safety and they need helping with better opportunities to improve their driving.
It should be a key policy of at-work safety to give people defensive driving and speed awareness courses, as well as advanced driver training.
This is already a major policy in the bus industry and bus travel is as safe as train travel despite the anarchic situation which within which buses are forced to operate.
There needs to be a strong impetus to encourage driver training in work environments. The bus industry is excellent in this respect and so are most lorry and some taxi companies.
However, in the van delivery sector and in taxis there is a need for improvement.
Safer roads are better for everyone and will bring serious financial savings for businesses, local authorities, the NHS and the Exchequer. Safer roads could directly raise our GDP by 1% which is much more significant than it sounds.
It is to be hoped people who care about the safety of active travellers will emphasise that this is a pro car user initiative as well; otherwise it may be presented as anti-car which it is not!
There is scope for campaigners on this issue to lobby WYCA, councils and businesses, as well as MPs.