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Wetherby commuters need more than gimmicks in Leeds pollution fight

by Wetherby Liberal Democrats on 23 July, 2019

Wetherby has been ignored in Leeds City Council’s commitment to extra bus services so what are its commuters expected to do?

Leeds City Council’s plans to randomly close certain roads in the city to cars to promote the fight against pollution in the city is little more than a political gimmick that will not deliver real change for commuters in the Wetherby area, according to Wetherby Liberal Democrats.

David Hopps, secretary of Wetherby Liberal Democrats, said that measures to reduce air pollution in Leeds were “absolutely essential” but rolling out a random programme of car-free days would just cause confusion for people working in Leeds and, as a result, harm the fight for a healthier environment.

Hopps said: “Reducing air pollution levels is absolutely essential for a modern city and Liberal Democrats in Leeds share those aspirations. But what commuters in places like Wetherby and Boston Spa need are attractive alternatives which will persuade them to leave their cars at home on a regular basis.

“Instead, Leeds’ Labour-held council has blatantly ignored outlying areas like Wetherby in their programme for extra public transport.

“We also learned at a cross-party transport meeting at Leeds City Council that despite our lobbying there are no plans to address Wetherby’s urgent need for a Park and Ride facility to help lighten the load on its clogged-up town centre car parks.

“The result of all this is that all commuters in Wetherby, Boston Spa and nearby villages will get is more frustration.”

Roads will close in Headingley, Hunslet and Otley on September 22 to mark World Car Free Day, and Leeds’ Labour council plans to deliver 11 car free days in different areas of the city over the next year.

As an A1 town, Wetherby residents need no reminding about the potentially harmful effects of pollution on our health

Hopps said that a commitment to improving the environment was at the heart of Liberal Democrat policy and that it would require a serious commitment from the Government, local councils, business groups and the voluntary sector to deliver improvements.

Wetherby Liberal Democrats also stressed ahead of the May elections to Leeds City Council that remained open to working with local Greens to press for progress in the area.

“As an A1 town, Wetherby residents need no reminding about the potentially harmful effects of pollution on our health,” Hopps said.

“Wetherby should take every opportunity to promote itself as an environmentally-conscious town, such as with the installation of charging points for electric cars, but progress here is also infuriating slow and there is precious little sign of leadership on the issue from Wetherby Tories.

Hopps added that successive Governments have failed to explore potential rail options for the town since the old Wetherby line closed more than half a century ago.

“At the very least we need ample and affordable parking at the planned Thorpe Park station, and also in Garforth, to give car drivers in the area a viable rail alternative when they wish to enter Leeds City Centre.

Hopps also said he supported a feasibility study into more ambitious options that would bring rail back to Wetherby.