Labour MP Alex Sobel has released his strategic principles for transport in his Leeds North West constituency. He stated: “If a modern city region were a human body, its transport network would be its veins and arteries. A healthy city, much like a healthy body, cannot survive for long with congestion and poor circulation.”
There are demands for improvements to the public transport systems that exist in Leeds currently. Leeds is the largest major city in Europe without a mass transit system. Main roads are, and have been for a while, at capacity, and trust in public transport service providers is exceedingly low in the area.
Sobel warns that without a competent strategy and proper, sustained investment in the infrastructure of Leeds: “Our transport network could easily get worse and in some cases fail altogether.
He argues that: “For some politicians it is much easier to kill ideas than it is to create or further them. But I am not that kind of politician.”
The eight page document, which stresses the “urgent need to address our creaking infrastructure,” outlines four strategic principles that all future transport proposals should adhere to: promoting public transport, cycling and walking, promoting environmental sustainability, improving the local economy, and benefiting public health both physical and mental.
Among other points, Sobel notes the widely publicised Labour Policy of renationalisation. He reiterates the importance of bringing the railways back into public ownership and stresses the environmental benefits of moving towards public transport rather than private car use.
Important to note for many students is also the reference to a regular schedule sustained throughout the night to “reflect the changing demands of living in a modern city”.
The document also references the impact of public transport on the Leeds economy.
It seeks to emphasise the need to improve transport infrastructure as a key move to securing more investment in the local area.
Unsurprisingly, space is given to addressing the Leeds clean air crisis and the UK’s need to meet carbon reduction targets. Sobel argues for the need for sustainable transport to be achieved through cleaner vehicles, public transport, bringing assets closer (requiring fewer consumer miles), the protection of local green spaces or the furthering of pedestrian and cycle modes.
Sobel was named road safety parliamentarian of the month for September by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line Group as a direct result of the Transport Strategy.
The Director of campaigns for Brake, Joshua Harris noted the strategy as “a bold attempt to change the way transport infrastructure is discussed and focus on promoting safe and healthy forms of getting around […] which will be of great benefit to his constituents.”
The Transport Strategy was also backed by Otley councillors earlier this year.
Otley Town Council Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson welcomed the transport document as a “useful platform for debate” and was “in broad agreement” with the objectives.
Main image: Richard Walker