Still no access

Update on the campaign to improve access for all at Skelton Grange Road Bridge

January 2024

 

 

In 2019 Leeds Cycling Campaign launched a campaign to make the Trans Pennine Trail and Sustrans NCN Route 67 at Skelton Grange Road Bridge safe and accessible to all.

The steep and often dangerous steps at the bridge were inaccessible to large sections of the population – including wheelchair and mobility scooter users, people with long-term health conditions, people with disabilities, parents with pushchairs, cargo bikes and many e-bike users.

We conducted a user survey, produced a campaign film and lobbied local councillors, the West Yorkshire Mayor and local MPs. We also organised an on-line petition attracting over 3,300 signatures. Our campaign successfully highlighted this long-standing issue and spurred Leeds City Council to take action.

A key stakeholder group was established to identify a way forward. Chaired by Sustrans, the group comprised representatives from Leeds City Council, Leeds Cycling Campaign, the Canal and Rivers Trust, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Trans Pennine Trail and Sustrans itself. A range of options were considered but the stakeholders concluded that the most feasible solution was a new, free-standing walking and cycling bridge which would give access for all.

Sustrans subsequently secured Department for Transport (DfT) funding to explore this solution and produce a bridge design.

At the same time, a planning approval dating from 2013 to upgrade the existing Skelton Grange Road Bridge to serve Enfinium’s new energy-from-waste plant was implemented. This provides a ramp from the towpath to bridge level on the south side and a segregated cycle path beside the carriageway across the Bridge. Unfortunately, the steep and narrow steps on the north bank have merely been replaced by slightly less steep steps with wheeling ramps.

Access for all to this important walking, cycling and wheeling route is still being denied or made unnecessarily difficult.

Sustrans published their report including the design of a new walking and cycling bridge on 23 November 2023. The report recommends that Leeds City Council is best placed to lead on the next stage of this project, including maintaining momentum, building a business case, securing funding and maintaining engagement with stakeholders and the public.

Leeds Cycling Campaign supports the bridge development but recognises that pressure will need to be maintained on politicians and other key decision makers if the scheme is to be delivered in the current, challenging financial climate. In practice, the bridge needs to be made a priority project for Leeds and West Yorkshire when bidding for any active travel or similar government funding in the immediate future.

Please continue to support the campaign for a new cycling and pedestrian bridge at Skelton Grange by writing to local politicians and telling them that this fantastic route needs to be accessible to everyone:

1 Hilary Benn MP: bennh@parliament.uk

2 Tracey Brabin West Yorkshire Mayor: mayoral.enquiries@westyorks-ca.gov.uk

3 Local ward councillors (particularly if you live locally):

Ed Carlisle Ed.Carlisle@leeds.gov.uk

Mohammed Iqbal mohammed.iqbal@leeds.gov.uk

Paul Wray Paul.Wray@leeds.gov.uk

4 Cllr Peter Carlill peter.Carlill@leeds.gov.uk

5 Cllr James Lewis, Leader, Leeds City Council james.lewis@leeds.gov.uk

6 Tom Riordan, Chief Executive, Leeds City Council: tom.riordan@leeds.gov.uk

7 Join Leeds Cycling Campaign and keep updated on the campaign: http://www.leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk

Issued: 3 January 2024