Well, I’m back. Did you miss me? Don’t all shout at once.
Before we get rolling I’d like to say a big thank you to Elly, John, Kirsty and Mark for pulling rabbits out of hats and keeping the daily posts going over the last two weeks. All of them are lovely people for doing so and if you prefer them to me then don’t worry – they’ll be back.
The big news today is the surprise from LCC that they only have funds for about 25% of the work that needs to be done on the inner ring road tunnels (Yorkshire Post). The Woodhouse tunnel is currently being worked on at weekends, works that are costing £1.2m, but a further £25m of work is estimated to be needed on other tunnels around the road. If the work is not completed then the IRR could be closed, or have restrictions on weight of traffic imposed. I’m sure we can all agree that closing the road would be a disaster to commuter traffic – even the current minor diversions cause serious problems for traffic at very quiet times on the weekend. LCC is bidding for £18.5m from DoT funds.
Also from the Yorkshire Post, LCC has spent £24.9m on landfill taxes over the last three years and the costs are only going to get higher. The cost of burying rubbish has to include an EU-imposed tax of £48 per tonne, which will rise to £80/t by 2014. This is because Leeds doesn’t have an incinerator; Sheffield has paid only £2.8m over the same period. Recycling will help reduce the tonneage of “black bags” but waste processing is a big problem. Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham have signed up to a scheme with a biological treatment plant, but Leeds has to think of its options; an incinerator has been in the plan for six years but the no2incinerator group have valid points about hazardous waste and the proximity of the proposed site to habitation, and perhaps a different plan is needed. A bio treatment plant could be the way forwards – a method of waste disposal not really available when the plans were originally drawn up in 2005.
A fire caused by a steam engine affected thousands of people on the East Coast line on Friday, reports the YEP. We could make a joke about public safety and obsolete tech here, but we love steam trains at BGL and hope that this won’t make rail bosses think twice about putting on special steam services, an essential part of our national heritage.
Beeston seems set to get a Tesco on Old Lane, reports South Leeds Life. The Beeston Community Forum has withdrawn its formal opposition to the scheme which will see Tesco build a superstore on the old jam factory site, flattened in 2008. Money provided for improving the area by the developer could be spend outside the ward, however. Plans for a park & ride at Elland Road are in play and this is a ridiculous idea; anybody who has driven anywhere near Elland Road on match days can tell you that it is not a suitable place for heavy traffic. Local blogger The Leeds Citizen also has a few words on the research used to justify a new Tesco; an expensive report (bought by LCC) on shopping on a per-ward basis suggests that there’s no need for the supermarket, and is being disregarded by the planning officer. Worth a read, that one.
Still on LCC, the exec board meeting on Wednesday will look at regulating unauthorised city centre car parks. Last year proposals were drawn up to take enforcement action against unauthorised car parks, but put on hold because public transport projects failed to happen. In an attempt to reduce city centre congestion the number of spaces at these car parks will be capped, although we understand that this will primarily affect South Leeds spaces. Given how badly congested the areas around perfectly legit car parks in the city centre are, BGL does wonder about the research that says congestion will drop. Still, we’re sure that everything will be perfectly ok.
It’s British Science Week next week, and Bradford is at the heart of it, says the Telegraph & Argus. The festival officially launches today with a science fair attended by local schoolchildren making model planets, with live music and interactive stands. There is a lot of stuff going on and if you can get on the website then see if anything grabs your fancy!
Finally today, BGL’s Mark O’Brien has finished his month of doing stuff in Yorkshire for Culture Vulture. He takes a last wander around Leeds and reflects on the last month and what it means to him. This has been a great experiment to read about and hopefully CV will be able to give someone else a similar opportunity next year.
It’s nice to be back.