In the COP crit, last Wednesday, we got the opportunity to walk around and talk to people about their projects. I spoke to Fran Bailey, who told me about her Craftivism project, protesting against the trolley bus scheme which has been approved by Leeds City Council.
If the proposed idea goes ahead, it will cost £250million, which will provide 20 electronic buses following the same route from Stourton park & ride, to Holt Park in the North of the city. The proposed scheme plans to cut journey times by 8 minutes.
Implications (many facts taken from websites including … )
- Firstly, there are already buses running this route. This has implications for other traffic: prioritization at junctions means traffic-stacking of other road-users, including free-running buses such as #1 & #6, whose service, again according to Metro, is likely to seriously diminish.
- According to a member of the anti-trolley bus Facebook group: ‘Metro make no claim that the scheme will improve congestion on the A660 (the major concern, one might think), and have in fact commented on a number of occasions that congestion will worsen. It is also likely to make life more difficult for cyclists.’
- There will be environmental degradation over a series of conservation areas, due to the culling of trees to make way for the buses. An independent tree expert has found that the cost of replacing the felled trees is £14million, but instead the council intend to replace the trees with smaller varieties worth only £700,000.
- Many argue that the technology used by the buses will be obsolete by the time construction is complete and they first run.
- North West Transport forum (Leeds) claim that transport along the A660 section of the proposed route could be greatly improved without spending £20million per bus – there is an alternative solution.
- Small businesses will suffer a loss of trade during the construction process.
- A particular concern, because it will affect us directly is that Leeds college of art will have part of its land force purchased to make way for the bus: its grassy area will be taken, as well as the paved area outside the front of college including the placard. The smoking and seating area will be used during construction to house diggers etc, and so will be out of use, putting added pressure on the other smoking area, and the cafe (which is often cramped anyway).
I found what Fran told me absolutely shocking. Firstly because the scheme is an over-expensive solution, which would result in many negative effects on the rest of the city – including Leeds College of Art, and secondly because I had no idea that about it what so ever.
Speaking to fellow students, it became clear that no body really knew what was going ahead, and unfortunately by this point the window to protest had closed. There is however going to be an official enquirey, which is why it is important to raise awareness, and make our voices heard.
Fran’s project involves her making a large, hand stitched banner to be hung across the front of the college spelling the words ‘This is ours’. The second part of Fran’s Craftivism initiative, is to hand stitch a personal letter to Benn, protesting against the scheme. Fran wants as many people to stitch their signature onto the letter, to show that many students are aware, and do care that they are trying to purchase part LCA.
This is an issue which is really important to me, so I would love to try to create a short film which would raise awareness about the issue. I would like to highlight, that students are standing up to the council’s plans, in order to encourage others to do the same.