18 January 2020
Leeds City Council has announced the cancellation of the proposed link road to Leeds Bradford airport. This is good news: it was going to destroy a number of green fields from Horsforth to Yeadon. Worse still, a new road would simply facilitate an expansion of passenger numbers at the airport – at a time when the Council had declared a climate emergency.
Now the Council proposes a parkway station on the Leeds-Harrogate line with a bus link to the airport terminal. Of course, the parkway station will still allow for increased passenger numbers and more airport noise. The station will apparently double as a Park & Ride to reduce the number of cars driving into the city centre.
The Green Party believes that the time has come to make the centre of Leeds into a car-free zone. Broadly speaking, the boundary would be the nner ring road and the east/south sections of the loop road. This would still allow car access to the LGI, the bus and railway stations, the Arena and other important venues.
A street in Amsterdam.
Cities around the world are going car-free – there are many benefits:
A quieter city
Reduced CO2 emissions
Access for disabled drivers, deliveries and taxis would be unaffected. The car-free zone would need lots more buses so that people can get around easily.
The Conservative party claim to have won the 2019 general election. In fact, most people who voted in that election did not vote Tory. The last time the “winning” party won a majority of the popular vote was nearly a century ago, in 1931.
Our existing system is grossly unfair: the LibDems took 11.5% of the popular vote. Under a fair system this would give them about 75 seats at Westminster. In fact, they now have just 11 MPs. More than 835,000 people voted for the Green Party. But this resulted in just one MP. Under a proportional system the Greens would have 17 MPs.
This has to change. That will need the co-operation of all opposition parties, including Labour. Some forward-looking Labour politicians now accept that they cannot beat the Tories alone. They need to be in an alliance of progressive parties. Will Labour swallow their pride and agree to share power? We can only hope.
New Year – new doubts about HS2. The costs are “out of control” according to the deputy Chair of the Inquiry set up to investigate the scheme. Lord Tony Berkeley believes the final bill may be as high as £107 billion.
This huge white elephant has also been criticised by environmentalist Chris Packham who has pointed out that many wildlife habitats will be destroyed to make way for the line. Packham is not alone – the scheme has been condemned by many wildlife organisations – RSPB, Woodland Trust, Friends of the Earth, Ramblers, Greenpeace, and WWF.
Vicar’s Coppice in Staffordshire – threatened by HS2
So why does Leeds City Council continue to support this act of vandalism? Council Leader Judith Blake said there would be “grave long-term consequences” for the economy if the scheme was not delivered in full. The Woodland Trust has identified 108 ancient woodlands that will be destroyed by HS2. Clearly, these historic woods mean nothing to Cllr Blake.
Our rail network desperately needs investment. But improvements to the trans-Pennine line would make much more sense. The fastest train to Manchester takes 53 minutes. Many take over an hour. The council should get its priorities right and withdraw support for HS2.
Promoted by Chris Foren on behalf of Headingley Green Party both at 21 Hollin Drive, Leeds LS16 5NE. Printed by Peter Gathercole at