A leading West Yorkshire business organisation has formally objected to Leeds council and Metro’s plans for a new trolleybus scheme in the city.
The West Yorkshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says it wrote to Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin yesterday – the deadline for objections – calling for a public enquiry to be held into the scheme next Spring.
“The FSB has questioned the value for money aspect of the scheme and has raised serious questions about the viability of the Trolleybus routes and the impact of construction on business trade post recession,” says an FSB press release.
FSB regional chair Chris Glen said the organisation was first approached in August by small businesses in Headingley who were concerned about the scheme and the impact that it would have on trade.
“We decided to survey our members across the Leeds District to try and gauge how widespread this concern was and the more we investigated, the more dissent we found amongst small business owners for the scheme,” he said.
With the deadline over for objections and expressions of support, it’s now up to the secretary of state to decide whether or not to hold a public enquiry into the £250m scheme.
“However, we don’t believe that the Trolleybus will actually reduce traffic congestion on the A660 through Headingley. The Trolleybus will require traffic signalling to give it priority and this could instead hinder traffic flow further as other road users will stack up behind it due to the narrow width of the road.
“It is an expensive scheme considering that it will only cover a stretch of eight miles or so. For the FSB though, the cost that small businesses will pay in loss of trade, particularly during the construction phase, does not justify proceeding with the scheme.”
In its letter to McLoughlin the FSB recommended alternative transport improvements that could be made, including: the introduction of a Quality Bus Framework across the region; bringing in Oyster Cards for train and bus travel; and investing in a fleet of hybrid and electric buses.
Elsewhere, the Stop The Trolleybus campaign group expressed concern today that the scheme was going to take more land than previously thought on Woodhouse Moor, and called on people to write to the council and object.