Top-level meeting demanded over delays to Keighley road funds

TRANSPORT bosses are seeking an urgent meeting with the Chancellor over delays to a cash fund which would help pay for a congestion-busting Keighley scheme.

West Yorkshire's new Combined Authority has accused George Osborne of "dragging his feet" over a planned £1.6 billion transport pot to fund 30 road and rail schemes in the region.

Among the projects is the long-awaited widening of Hard Ings Road into a dual carriageway.

The authority's chairman, Coun Peter Box, said: "We know that improving the transport network, speeding up journeys and reducing congestion hotspots means better connections between people and jobs and goods and markets, which in turn leads to economic growth and the creation of new jobs.

"That is why the Combined Authority is seeking a meeting with the Chancellor to achieve a breakthrough on the planned £1.6 billion West Yorkshire-Plus Transport Fund.

"Government ministers had shown commitment to the fund but they are now dragging their feet over it."

Keighley town mayor Coun Graham Mitchell, a keen campaigner for improvements to the local transport network, said he was delighted that pressure was being brought to bear on the government.

"The dualling of Hard Ings Road is something that the town council has strongly argued in favour of for about 10 years – indeed for most of the time the council has been in existence," he said.

"The scheme, together with the introduction of a one-way system in the town centre, is badly needed.

"It has been shown that London and the south-east receive a disproportionate amount of funding compared to the regions, and in the north we need additional finance for our transport infrastructure.

"I'm delighted that the new Combined Authority is fighting for us."

A recent report by MPs said transport projects outside London were being underfunded and that no area should be “second class” when it comes to financing transport infrastructure.

Coun Box said West Yorkshire had “suffered from a legacy of underspending by successive governments”.

He added that the planned £1.6 billion spend would transform the road and rail network over the next decade, help create 22,000 jobs and boost the local economy.

“We need ministers and governments to meet their commitments and to heed the recommendations so we can get these projects under way and enable West Yorkshire, the Leeds City Region and York to meet their full potential," he said.

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