A councillor has accused Kirklees Council of being “anti-car” and pushing people towards a public transport system that simply wasn’t working.

Kirkburton Tory councillor John Taylor criticised a draft of the forthcoming Kirklees Transport Strategy which he dismissed as little more than “an awful lot of words.”

Clr Taylor said the council often “talked the talk” but didn’t “walk the walk.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel at Huddersfield Town Hall, Clr Taylor said: “I am not against cars. I fully support what we are trying to do getting towards net zero but I worry we are throwing out the baby with the bath water.

“One of the greatest things that cars did in the 20th century was enable people to have freedom to do things and get around.

“What we seem to be doing is pushing people out of cars because of concerns around C02, which I understand, but you are restricting people’s freedoms if you are forcing people onto buses that only come twice an hour.

“In my ward we don’t have buses or they only come in a blue moon. If you are restricting people’s ability to get around that impacts on economic growth as well.”

Clr Taylor said the council should look at more innovative ways around car usage which gives people the freedom to travel when they need to. There were still many questions around electric vehicles, he added.

Clr Taylor said he supported active travel – such as walking and cycling – but he said there was an active travel route in his ward where lighting had been damaged.

The council had repaired the lights but said it would no longer fund any repairs and that could stop people using it in the future.

“That’s not a Government decision, it’s something this council has decided to do,” said Clr Taylor. “If we are going to support active travel we need to follow it through. That to me is a perfect example of us talking the talk but then not walking the walk.”

Clr Taylor criticised the choice of words in the document and added: “There’s a lot of statements in here that don’t seem to be backed up.

“It says there’s a ‘reduced need for reliance on the private car.’ How have we determined there’s a reduced need? I don’t see that in my patch because there aren’t the public transport alternatives.

“I question whether you can demonstrate a reduced need for private cars. That might be an aspiration but there’s no evidence base.”

The document talks about “affordable public transport” but Clr Taylor said: “It’s only affordable if it’s available.”

In many areas of Kirklees it takes at least two buses to reach the local hospital. In the rural villages it wasn’t possible for people to get buses at the right times to visit relatives in Pinderfields at Wakefield or Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.

“When we talk about how wonderful things are, this is the reality for people who are reliant on public transport.”

Clr Taylor also referred to new large-scale housing developments at such as Storthes Hall near Kirkburton and Almondbury.

Hundreds of new homes were being built and the planning applications were looked at in isolation yet the extra cars would have a major impact on the already-congested A629 Penistone Road.

On electric vehicles, Clr Taylor told of two schemes for charging points he had secured for Cliffe House in Shepley and Burton Village Hall in Highburton.

Two years on, the charging points were still not operational. While they had been installed at Cliffe House, the project hadn’t been signed off for Burton Village Hall.

“I was told it would be the end of September last year but we are still chasing. The council talks the talk but when it comes to delivery it’s simply not delivering on it.”

Clr Taylor said he wanted a more strategic, forward-thinking, all-encompassing vision.

What the document didn’t mention was Huddersfield’s position equi-distant from the major centres of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, bordering on three mayoral areas.

It didn’t mention that Kirklees was the only local authority which borders all four other West Yorkshire local authorities – Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Calderdale.

Nor did it mention the M1 or M62. “These are the major routes across this country and we should make sure we enable people to get into our district and out of our district because that would be great for economic growth.”

Clr Taylor said the document made much of the multi-billion TransPennine Route Upgrade, which will transform the rail network but that was happening and work was already underway.

What should be made more of was the Penistone Line upgrade, linking Huddersfield and South Yorkshire.

The Government had announced £48 million for improvements but Clr Taylor said: “It needs more than that if we are going to get half-hourly services. It should be at the heart of our strategy but you would miss it if you didn’t know about it.

“(The strategy) does not bring to life our vision. There’s no forward-thinking or innovation. There’s no focus on what’s already there and how we can utilise that.

“Whilst this is a document and gives a lot of information, it doesn’t work for me. There’s just an awful lot of words.”

Clr Moses Crook, Cabinet member for transport, stressed the strategy document was only a “working draft.”

He insisted the council wasn’t “anti-car” and was keen to promote active travel and wanted to improve public transport.