OVERHAUL: £830m transport funding boost includes basic road maintenance money
It had been hoped that the money could kickstart the region’s long-awaited mass transit system
An £800m Government scheme for transport improvements in West Yorkshire includes road maintenance money that local authorities would have received anyway, according to the leader of Leeds City Council.
It follows the announcement from the treasury over the weekend that it was pumping billions of pounds into an “overhaul” of transport in the North of England.
As part of the £5.7 billion of funding into “sustainable transport settlements”, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at the weekend that West Yorkshire would receive £830m to “level up” its transport connections.
It had been hoped that the money could kickstart the region’s long-awaited mass transit system.
However, leader of Leeds City Council James Lewis has claimed the figure also includes money for basic road maintenance, and is not enough to make the transformative changes needed.
Coun Lewis (Lab) said: “Any money that means years of underinvestment in our transport system is always welcome and we look forward to working with the government on the details of which schemes in Leeds this will actually help fund.
“However, this award also includes existing cash for the basics of maintaining roads and filling in potholes and we shouldn’t have to be bidding for that.
“It’s just one component towards the transport we need to reduce carbon emissions and support our economy but with announcements pending on investment in the train infrastructure and also on bus service funding it’s not enough.
“For levelling up to mean anything this funding is all needed now and must be guaranteed over the years ahead not just short term one-offs.”
According to HM Treasury, the money could go towards smaller schemes, such as the cycle superhighway to the west of Bradford, improving the A61 between Leeds and Wakefield and an enhanced electric vehicle programme in Kirklees.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is expected to formally announce the plans at this week’s Autumn spending review, said: “Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.
“There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital.”
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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