Radio Leeds’s Peg Alexander interviews trolleybus protestors

Circus interview
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooPhoto courtesy of Peg Alexander

Early this morning, Radio Leeds roving reporter Peg Alexander interviewed trolleybus protestors on Belle isle Circus. Peg heard why local residents Ian and Paula Liptrot think the trolleybus would be bad for the area and also spoke to fellow trolleybus protestor Dawn Carey Jones from Hyde Park. The interview was broadcast live at 8.40am and gave notice of picnic protest due to take place later today at 12 noon today on Belle Isle Circus and at the same time tomorrow on Monument Moor.

Belle Isle Circus Protest Picnic

Belle Isle Circus Picnic A5 Flyer b

Monument Moor Protest Picnic

Monument Moor Picnic A5 Flyer 4

Deputations to Council from South and North Leeds

At today’s Council Meeting, delegates from residents’ associations based in both South and North Leeds gave their reactions, after attending the 72-day public inquiry into the proposed NGT Trolleybus Scheme. Mr Fitzimmons pointed to the lack of proper public consultation, the weakness of the NGT business case, based on out-of-date figures and how this could be an unjustified burden for local tax payers, the damage to the Whitfields pedestrian area, and the threat to the Stourton park-and-ride due to a lack of proper surveying. Martyn Thomas, speaking for all residents associations on the A660 from Hyde Park to the Ring Road, as well as the Federation of Small Businesses demonstrated by referring to evidence given by NGT and its consultants themselves, that the scheme was frequently in contradiction with the Council’s Core Strategy; that it would increase car use and pollution, reduce bus frequency and endanger bus services in outlying areas, mean a higher percentage of standing passengers, entail longer door-to-door journeys for many, and reduce the number of people cycling and walking

Leeds Trolleybus Inquiry – Day 3

On the third day of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry we found out more about Mr Martin Farrington’s value systems, and how little research he has put into the areas which would be affected by the proposed trolley system. I would urge you to listen to some of the audio recordings of the Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry that I have been making with the assistance of the gentlemen of the North West Leeds Transport Forum.

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Day 3: May 1 2014 First Morning Session.
Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Day 3: May 1 2014 Late Morning Session.
Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Day 3: May 1 2014 Early Afternoon Session.
Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Day 3: May 1 2014 Late Afternoon Session.

The most extraordinary moment of the day for me was when Mr Farrington said that he couldn’t bring the fields of Headingley Hill to his mind. The largest and most complex green site that would be lost, of the entire route, and he can’t bring it into his mind. As if it was some little detail that is beneath his consideration. Well, he does see himself as a big picture man, and he does like to delegate to his subordinates, like getting them to write parts of his statement, for instance.


Leeds Trolleybus Inquiry – Day 2

Today felt like a good day for the Stop The Trolleybus campaign. The Inquiry got down to business with the cross examination of the first witness, Mr Martin Farrington, Chief Development Officer for Leeds City Council who has taken a major role in the development and promotion of the Applicant’s scheme, New Generation Transport trolleybuses.

Gregory Jones QC for First West Yorkshire tore into Mr Farrington and elicited such extraordinary pieces of information as that when he took up his current post and began to promote a trolleybus scheme, he had never actually reviewed the pros and cons of the Supertram which had been cancelled a few years before, or that he had only found out yesterday about the 1999 Liverpool Public Inquiry into what had been a proposal for a trolleybus development there, but which had been rejected by the Inspector and the then Secretary of State. (I had heard about that perhaps a year ago.)

The Cross examination went on for most of the day but the first session was the most impressive. It can be heard on this recording which a colleague kindly made on my Zoom H2 audio recorder.

Early Morning

Exposed and highlighted were the facts that this would be the only trolleybus scheme in England and the only right hand drive one in the world, suggesting major problems for future supply of parts and vehicles, and that it was projected as having a lifetime of at least sixty years, or more.


Leeds Trolleybus Inquiry – The First Day

The long expected Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry began today. I shan’t be giving a blow by blow account of what was said as you can listen to my audio recordings of the three sessions on my Mixcloud site.

Opening Session

Late Morning Session

Afternoon Session

But some lay commentary may give an impression about it.

I dare say that this kind of thing can seem rather impenetrable to many people with all the formalities. There have been so many stages of comments and objections that one can feel lost in the detail.

An important entry point for some will be the fact that the first opportunity to feedback on what they thought of this proposed trolleybus scheme came with the ‘Consultation Events’ of which there were about 18, held from late 2012 through to the late summer of 2013 at community centres and church halls along the route of the proposed trolleybus from Holt Park to Stourton.

A great deal of concern has been generated by the refusal of NGT and Leeds City Council to release transcripts of the several hundred comments and emails which these generated, on what many believe are spurious grounds, as detailed by Chris Foren of the A660 Joint Council of community associations along the northern part of the route, to be heard at the beginning of the second recording linked above.

One rather throwaway remark that was made to this was that those people who filled in feedback forms at consultation events could have made formal objections if they had wanted to.


The Public Inquiry Opens

2 Wellington Place 2 Wellington Place

The public inquiry into the trolleybus scheme opened today in the Regus office, located on the 5th Floor of 2 Wellington Place. The inquiry was opened by Inspector Martin Whitehead, assisted by his deputy, Inspector Katie Peerless. The first and only witness testimony of the day was from Martin Farrington, the head of Leeds City Council’s City Development Department.

The opening of the inquiry was reported in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post.

Stop the Cover-Up

Stop the Cover-Up
Demonstrators outside Metro HQ on Wellington Street

Demonstrators gathered this morning outside Metro’s headquarters on Wellington Street to protest against Metro’s refusal to release the results of consultation carried out between Autumn 2012 and Summer 2013. Initially, Metro said that the results would be published in a few weeks. Then, in response to a request for the information made in October 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act, Metro claimed that the request was unreasonable as it would require 52 man hours to collate the information.

During the course of the demonstration, Metro’s head, Councillor James Lewis came out to speak to the demonstrators and re-stated Metro’s claim that it was unreasonable to require the information to be published, and said once again that it would not be published.

One of the demonstrator’s placards asked “What have you got to hide?” This question will continue to be asked until Metro publish the results of the consultation.

There was an article about the demonstration in the Yorkshire Evening Post. And students from Leeds Metropolitan University interviewed Headingley Green Party candidate Joe Salmon. Dawn Carey Jones was interviewed by Radio Aire.

Price Waterhouse report says “Scrap trolleybuses”

Wellington Trolleybus
Photo of Wellington trolleybus courtesy of Royston Rascals

In a recently published report commissioned by Greater Wellington Regional Council, consultants Price Waterhouse Cooper are highly critical of trolleybuses, and recommend they play no further part in Wellington’s public transport system. At page 24, the report lists the disadvantages of trolleybuses:

  • Trolleys require significant investment in overhead network infrastructure.
  • Overhead wiring networks means that bus routes are limited to existing infrastructure and are difficult to revise (in the absence of investment in network extensions or changes). Any extension to the network requires significant capital investment.
  • The power supply system can become overloaded if too many trolleys are drawing electricity from the network at the same time, stalling the movement of the trolleys.
  • Overhead wiring limits the ability to introduce taller vehicles (e.g. double-deckers).
  • Overhead wiring contributes to visual pollution.
  • Overhead wiring poses potential risks to pedestrians if the lines become damaged or fall.
  • Trolleys have limited ability to pass other trolley buses that are running off the same line. This slows traffic, particularly at stops and if buses de-pole.
  • The low noise output of trolleys can result in crashes with pedestrians. […]

The report says of the Leeds trolleybus proposal:

Despite the targeted benefits of the system, there has been significant opposition to the £250 million project. Approximately 20 buildings will need to be demolished for space, and another 3,000 business and domestic properties could be affected. Opposition to the proposal claims that the project will provide poor value for money and will damage both the environment and quality of life.