Labour councillors were whipped to vote for the trolleybus

by Bill

Councillor James Lewis (courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

Councillor James Lewis (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

In a sensational development, the chair of Metro, Councillor James Lewis has revealed that Labour councillors were whipped to support the trolleybus in the council votes that took place on the 1st July and 13th November 2013. Even though many Labour councillors are known to oppose the scheme, not one voted against it in the two votes. In an interview with Neil Hudson, reported in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post, Councillor Lewis admitted there was a Labour whip but added: “That is only to put the whole thing to a public inquiry. When the Government offered us the £175m, they were pretty clear it had to be for this project, so there’s no real chance of it being used for something else.

“That’s not to say we want to implement a defective system, we want it to be the best for Leeds, to improve transport in the city.

“It’s not a scheme that’s just been plucked off the shelf. We think if the scheme is approved, it will be 2019 or 2020 before it is up and running.”

MP George Mudie (courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

MP George Mudie (photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

Today’s article also included an interview with MP George Mudie who claims the ruling Labour group on Leeds City Council imposed a three-line whip on the issue, forcing its councillors to vote in favour of the plans. Mr Mudie is vociferous in his criticism of the scheme. He said: “It’s a third rate scheme that’s going to cause untold damage to parts of Leeds. When I see the amount being spent in the capital on things like the Jubilee Line extension and the Crossrail underground line, which is costing something like £16bn, I think it’s a scandal Leeds is having to settle for a trolleybus.
“There would have been a whip for Labour councillors in Leeds when they voted on it. Luckily, their whip does not extend to me. For me, an underground for Leeds is the number one system, Supertram was the second choice, what we’ve got now is third rate.”

To read the complete article, please click on this link, and for a breakdown of how councillors voted on the 1st July and the 13th November, please click on this link, and this link.

If the trolleybus scheme is given the go-ahead, it will almost certainly rule out the possibility of us getting an underground or tram system, and will commit this city to trolleybuses for the foreseeable future. Is it right for a whip to be imposed on councillors when they are making a decision with such important consequences?