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Greg Mulholland

23 December 2016

With Christmas almost upon us, Parliament has broken up and will not sit again until the 9th January.

2016 has certainly been a very interesting year, we have had the EU referendum, the American Presidential election, and all the political parties in the UK, except the Liberal Democrats, have held a leadership election this year. Some have even held two!

I have passed the feedback I received about roads and drains to Leeds City Council, and I hope that these will be addressed shortly.

In Westminster

I have backed Carolyn Harris MP's campaign for the abolition of council charges for the burial of a child. Carolyn Harris, the Labour Member of Parliament for Swansea East, recently gave an emotional speech in the House of Commons, explaining how she was unable to afford to bury her 8 year old son 25 years ago.

I have signed a Parliamentary Motion backing the campaign, and I have also written to Tom Riordan, Chief Executive at Leeds City Council, urging him to scrap funeral fees for children.

In Leeds

I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Otley and Ireland Wood Delivery Offices to see first-hand the operation of delivering Christmas post and to pass on season's greetings to its hardworking staff at their busiest time of the year.

I was also pleased to attend the Light Rail for Leeds summit held in Leeds on 12 December. Manufacturers, operators, engineers and promoters of other tram systems came together at the special event, organised by Light Rail (UK), and presented plans and the economic case for light rail, as well as highlighting advances in technology for both trams and track. The summit demonstrated that light rail for Leeds is realistic and affordable, and that a project could be started with the £250 million of public funding on the table, supplemented by private investment, with a number of proposals put forward.

Many of the experts were critical of Leeds City Council's decision to invest £180 million of public money into buses. In a presentation by Roger Harrison, former Chairman of the highly successful Nottingham Tramlink consortium, the audience heard that traffic congestion in Leeds is predicted to more than double in the next thirty years, with passenger numbers at Leeds City Station reaching similar levels per year to those at Gatwick Airport. This level of footfall, he said, is far greater than can be served by a bus and taxi-only network, and that an integrated light rail solution would be a far better investment for the city than yet more buses.

The summit clearly showed that with real political will we could and should get started with light rail in Leeds and the consensus was that the £250 million of NGT funding should be used for this. Leeds is the driver of the regional economy, and it needs a transport system to match. Leeds City Council's plans to spend the money on a series of questionable smaller projects will not deliver the transformative change that the city's public transport desperately needs.

No doubt 2017 will be another very busy Year, and I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Leeds North West.

I won't bother you with a question this week, but please do feel free to reply and raise any issues with me.

I hope that you all have a very happy Christmas and New Year!

Best wishes