Protesters rallying against proposals for Leeds’ new £250 million trolleybus system made their presence felt outside Leeds Civic Hall.
Around 30 protesters held placards and gave out leaflets ahead of a council meeting to discuss some of the planning issues facing the planned NGT (Next Generation Transport) trolleybus scheme.
Although no decisions from the council were expected today, the meeting, due to last virtually all day, would look at some of the planning concerns raised by campaigners and councillors on the city’s main planning panel.
As reported in the YEP yesterday, around 20 properties are set to be fully or partially flattened during the construction of the congestion-busting £250m New Generation Transport (NGT) system.
Hyde Park resident Sue Buckle, of South Headingley Community Association, said she was concerned about the demolition of a parade of eight shops and a former petrol filling station at Hyde Park Corner. She added:
“These plans are going to irrevocably change the landscape for a lot of people. Hyde Park Corner’s going to be badly affected.
“I’m concerned about the impact of the scheme as a whole. And what the trolleybus people say are benefits seem to be ‘potential’ at best – there are no guarantees it’s going to deliver on its promises.”
“There are a lot of concerns locally, but also wider citywide concerns – is this the best use of tax payers money? I think there are cheaper options.”
Protester George Geapin, from Temple Newsam, urged the council to reconsider the scheme. He said a whole fleet of battery-run buses could be bought for the price of the scheme.
And Headingley’s Joe Salmon argued that £70 million of Leeds tax payers’ money could be more wisely spent in these days of austerity and at a time when the council was facing cutbacks. He added:
“This is essentially a road building scheme masquerading as public transport.. They should be looking at reducing the number of people using the A660, not increasing it.”
Campaigners also criticised the loss of trees and green space down the A660 and the impact on local businesses during construction. They claim the scheme could add to congestion on the A660.
The routes will run in new, segregated busways and bus-only lanes for as much as possible of the journey. They will have first preference at traffic lights and junctions to make the trip fast and comfortable.
By speeding up journeys into and around Leeds, improving local connectivity and preventing the growth of congestion, it’s claimed NGT will provide a £160m per annum boost to the local economy and the creation of 4,000 permanent jobs.