At 10am this Saturday the 11th May, Councillor Richard Lewis, the head of Highways, will be at Leeds Civic Hall to answer questions on the proposed trolleybus scheme. Councillor James Lewis, the head of Metro, will also be attending the meeting and answering questions.
Both councillors are strong supporters of the scheme, which involves running trolleybuses from a proposed massive park and ride at Stourton, through Belle Isle, Hunslet and the city centre, to Holt Park.
The proposed route would take the trolleybuses across Woodhouse Moor, across the fields where horses graze on Headingley Hill, and through the Shire Oak Road conservation area. It would involve demolition of shops at Hyde Park Corner, a house on Wood Lane and the stone cottages at the junction of Otley Road and Alma Road. The broad grass verges in Far Headingley would be tarmaced over, and all the trees on the central reservation between West Park and Lawnswood would be cut down. The central reservation itself would be tarmaced over. And a massive park and ride would be built on the playing fields at Bodington.
The proposed route would also take the trolleybuses through the grounds of St Joseph’s Primary School in Hunslet, and the Whitfields housing estate, which is pedestrianised.
The reason Metro and Leeds City Council want to run the trolleybuses through Belle Isle and Hunslet is not to serve these communities, as the trolleybuses make very few stops. The reason they want to run the trolleybuses through these communities is because they lie in the way between the proposed park and ride at Stourton, and the city centre.
The scheme will cost £250 million. This money will provide just 20 trolleybuses running on a single route from Stourton to HoltPark. The same money would provide 800 battery powered buses that could serve the entire city, 1,000 hybrid buses, or 60 four car electric trains.
Metro describe the scheme as “rapid transit” but the average speed will be 12mph from Lawnswood to the city centre. And the time saving on the current bus journey from HoltPark to the city centre will be either 1 or 3 minutes.
At a meeting of the council’s Executive Board in March, the council decided to support the scheme by voting £20 million from the capital fund towards the cost of it. This means that the money will come from the sale of care homes, sheltered housing, community centres and such like.
At the Executive Board meeting, Councillor Richard Lewis dismissed the widespread opposition to the scheme saying, “It’s important we respect the views of those people who haven’t expressed an opinion.”
Next Saturday’s public meeting provides an opportunity which may not be repeated to ask Councillor Richard Lewis and Councillor James Lewis why they want to proceed with a scheme which is so unpopular with the Leeds public.
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