Response to government announcement on NGT
Responding to today’s announcement by the government on the planned New Generation Transport (NGT) scheme for Leeds, Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said:
“While it is extremely disappointing the government have taken so long to reach a decision on this scheme, crucially the £173.5m Local Growth Funding earmarked in the Leeds City Region Growth Deal for this project has been safeguarded to invest in transport projects that will help connect people to places and jobs across our wider City Region.
“Improving transport and connectivity links is at the core of our Strategic Economic Plan to create good growth and job opportunities for the people who live and work here, and of our bid for transformational devolution to the City Region. While we’ve already secured other significant money through our Growth Deal to make investments in transport over next 20 years, there is still some way to go to address the legacy of years of underinvestment in our transport network.
“Leeds and the wider City Region needs and deserves a 21st Century transport network, otherwise the whole Northern Powerhouse risks missing out on billions of pounds of economic growth and thousands of good jobs for now and generations to come.”
West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield said:
“Today’s news is a frustrating reminder that despite the government’s emphasis on devolution, we still find ourselves subject to decisions made remotely in Whitehall on local matters.
"Developing NGT in line with government advice and complying with the Department for Transport's lengthy approval process since 2007 has cost approaching £27m. However, land acquired for the scheme has a value of around £10m and we will now review which sites can be released so that the proceeds can be invested in transport improvements and initiatives to support economic growth.
“The government has admitted in the decision letter published today that NGT represented good value for money. The letter states the Department for Transport confirmed Programme Entry in July 2012 and the ‘decision to allocate funding for the scheme was based specifically on an assessment of the value for money, affordability and deliverability of the scheme.’
“The announcement that the £173.5m committed for NGT has been ring-fenced for public transport investment in Leeds does mean we can build upon our key achievements, such as the new Apperley Bridge rail station and Leeds Station Southern Entrance, which are already in place, and the new Kirkstall Forge and Low Moor stations, due to open soon.
“We are already demonstrating this through our 10-year, £1bn Transport Fund programme of strategic transport schemes designed to accelerate growth and create up to 20,000 jobs, funded through our City Region Growth Deal.
“And we are committed to developing a fully integrated metro-style transport system for the City Region with tram train at its heart and will now work with government to make that a reality.”
Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said:
“This is bad news for Leeds, West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region.
“After being supported by successive governments to pursue the country’s first trolleybus-based scheme, only for that support to be withdrawn at this late hour, we now need to see the Government working with us. We need to see ministers committing further funding to develop key alternatives and help us make up for the lost time and resources and we need devolution so these decisions can be taken locally.
“We need to be able to press ahead with the development of a metro-style system with integrated rail, tram train and light rail, bus, cycling and walking networks designed to meet local people’s needs and underpin the economic growth and job creation across the City Region.”
“We have the ambition and the ability to achieve this but unless we get the government’s backing, today will be remembered as a bad day for Leeds, West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region and also for the idea of a Northern Powerhouse.”
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“It’s a relief to everyone concerned that a decision has finally been made, although the length of time taken to get there has been very frustrating.
“Leeds has been let down by successive Governments in Whitehall on transport, first Supertram and now with NGT. Each occasion setting public transport in the city back many years.
“I’m pleased Leeds will still be allocated the funding and look forward to working with our partners to bring forward the public transport improvements Leeds so desperately needs as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:
“NGT would have brought significant economic benefit to Leeds as well as tackling the congestion and unacceptable travel times on one of the main routes into the city.
“We now need to work out -alongside Central Government- how to use the £173.5 million earmarked for Leeds to provide better transport, help people move around the city and improve air quality in Leeds.”