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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 15:28 GMT
Tram refusal a 'slap in the face'
Video image of a Supertram
Leeds is one of the few large cities in Europe not to have trams
Politicians in Leeds have attacked the government for pulling the plug on plans to bring trams back to the city.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced on Thursday that the likely cost of almost 500m did not represent value for money.

City Council leader, Liberal Democrat Mark Harris, called the decision "a slap in the face for the city".

His Conservative deputy, Andrew Carter, said the government had let down the people of Leeds.

Plans for the Supertram had been on hold since Mr Darling asked for the cost to be reduced and then wanted details on whether buses would provide a better option.

He has now decided that more buses are the way forward.

This is a massive knock but we are determined it will not affect our ambition and competitive drive
Mark Harris
Leeds City Council

"It is clear that the tram scheme is still very expensive and the costs remain much higher than originally planned," Mr Darling said.

"The value today is 486m - compared with the approved figure in 2001 of 355m.

"Clearly it does not represent the best value for money for the people of Leeds or the best use of public money."

The end of the line for Supertram comes after 20 years of lobbying from Leeds to various governments.

The city argued that its economic progress depended on a modern transport system and that it is the largest city in Europe without underground trains or trams.

City's ambition

But Mr Harris and the leader of the opposition Labour group, Keith Wakefield, are agreed that there is not much to be gained by looking backwards.

"This is a massive knock but we are determined it will not affect our ambition and competitive drive," Mr Harris said.

"We are resilient in Leeds. We will bring expertise together and are confident that we can find an alternative way forward."

Mr Wakefield said he thought the city had made a good case for Supertram.

There were still many questions to be answered about the new bus system but it would be a way of reducing congestion and "offers a real chance for the city to improve its transport infrastructure."

If the scheme had gone ahead, construction would have started in 2008 with the first trams running in 2011.

There would have been three lines, serving the east, south and north of the city.


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