Press release: LibDems seek to get People Power in charge of city’s streets

The Liberal Democrat group are proposing a series of amendments at this week’s Leeds City Council Annual Budget meeting that hope to put communities in control of planning transport improvements in their area. The creation of ‘15 Minute Neighbourhoods’, on street electric vehicle charging, and a new team to get delayed suburban transport schemes implemented, are intended to get a better deal for Leeds neighbourhoods currently ignored by the Council
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Stewart Golton will propose the measures this Wednesday. He said:

“This Labour administration has spent too long pouring money into Leeds City Centre to the detriment of its surrounding communities. That neglect needs to stop now. Covid has cemented new ways of working, and the 9-5 commute to the office cannot be allowed to continue to dominate how we plan transport around this city.”

15 Minute Neighbourhoods are an internationally recognised concept where neighbourhoods are designed to enable people to access all the local services and amenities they need by foot, bike or public transport within 15 minutes. The Liberal Democrats want local people in every ward in the city to have the resources to create such a plan. It is hoped that through better planning, investment can be focussed on improving infrastructure to allow people to leave the car at home more often.

“The Labour administration say they want to have a car free city, but they’ve done nothing to create the infrastructure in our outlying suburbs, towns and villages to enable people to leave their car at home, and still carry out lives that don’t just involve one journey a day to and from work. People need to fit in caring for kids and elderly relatives, shopping, health visits, and getting to the local park. Fit for purpose walking and cycling routes, joined up to regular and reliable buses can’t be designed by traffic engineers who’ve never set foot in a community. If people are meant to leave the car at home, we also need to plan how to better fit parked vehicles onto our narrow streets. These people-powered plans could transform how we decide transport investment in this city.”

Frustration at the lack of progress of suburban highways schemes in the city has prompted a further LibDem proposal to create a new 3 person scheme that can be dedicated to progressing improvements asked for by residents in outlying areas. Councils are expected to increase their revenue from new traffic enforcement powers given by the government, and the LibDems believe that money should be reinvested into a better service for residents.

“Leeds City Council’s Highways Department is chronically understaffed, with officers told to prioritise city centre schemes created by the Council or developers. As a consequence it is hard to get anything done north of the Inner Ring Road or South of the River Aire. As an example, after getting a reduction of the speed limit from 50-40mph for a 200 yard stretch of road agreed in Rothwell, I’m still waiting for it to happen a year later. There are examples like that all over the city, and people living in the suburbs shouldn’t get a second class service to city centre business. Our proposal will help to stop the rot.”

Equity of access to transport improvements is also behind the LibDem proposal for a feasibility study to deliver more on-street electric vehicle charging for those without off-street parking.

“Leeds is famous for how many terraced properties that we have, so it’s completely bonkers that people who live in them should so far be completely ignored by the Council when they plan where they want to put electric charging infrastructure in the city. We will literally be a two-speed city in terms of people being able to do the right thing for the environment and purchase an electric vehicle if you have to move house to own one. Places like Liverpool have managed on-street charging through lamp posts and we’d like to pursue the same technology here.”

Notes: The 15 Minute Neighbourhood Ward Transport Plan concept has been developed alongside transport discussions with Leeds Civic Trust and the Same Skies Think Tank.

Contacts here:

Leeds Civic Trust – Ruth Gelletlie

Same Skies Think Tank – Tiffany Holloman