‘Two pence per day’ plan to boost transport

Busy traffic on the M62, Leeds bound, between junctions 25 and 26.
Busy traffic on the M62, Leeds bound, between junctions 25 and 26.

Council tax bills in West Yorkshire could rise to support a £1 billion transport fund that its supporters say will help cut congestion and create jobs.

Exact figures have yet to be decided but officials putting the plan together believe it would cost the average of two pence per day for every person in the area.

The fund, to be run by a new ‘combined authority’ made up of council leaders, was going to be financed by a series of levies on each local authority.

However, the Government last week moved to make council levies subject to the same rules as rises in council tax bills which must be put to a public vote if they are higher than two per cent.

The councils involved are now suggesting if the combined authority was given the power to charge council tax payers through a precept, in the same way as parish councils, it would make the process more open without the need for costly votes every year.

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: “We are not talking about huge increases in taxation, probably two pence per day.

“All funds are tight for people at the moment, we know that, but the impact for the area could be massive - 20,000 new jobs, £1 billion every year on the economy and we think that’s worth the extra investment.”

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box added: “The effect on council tax is very modest and in return we are going to invest in the local transport system to reduce congestion and to help in terms of improving connections to unemployment blackspots.

“At the moment there are people who cannot get to jobs that are being created in other parts of the city region because of the lack of transport.”