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Leader of York Council Orders Review Into Lendal Bridge Trial

James Alexander and Dave Merrett 020414

3:21pm 2nd April 2014
(Updated 4:46pm 2nd April 2014)

The leader of York Council, James Alexander, has written to the council’s Chief Executive, Kersten England confirming his request yesterday for an internal review into the implementation of the Lendal Bridge Trial.
James Alexander said in a statement:
"The principle of reducing private traffic in our historic city centre is right given the increasing problem we have with congestion. Many successful cities around the world have embarked on the same bold journey. But we accept the implementation of this policy has not been to a standard my colleagues and I would expect."
"Therefore despite assurances from the Department for Transport on signage, traffic restrictions being in place along Coppergate since the late 1960s and the Lendal Bridge trial mirroring other restrictions around the country, and in light of new information from the Traffic Adjudicator, I have written to the Chief Executive confirming my request for an internal review of both the Lendal Bridge trial and enforcement of the Coppergate traffic restriction."
York Council has again confirmed to Minster FM the restrictions on Lendal Bridge and on Coppergate are still in place, despite this internal review and the Traffic Adjudicator's ruling that the council could not use it's cameras to fine people.
York Conservative leader Chris Steward says James Alexander is passing the buck. He told Minster FM:
"We know there's been many things have gone with the trial starting, with the way the trial's been run, to culminate in where we are now with your story yesterday. This looks like passing the buck. This is James's watch. This is James - the council leader. And for me, it's Dave Merrett, the council member relevant to this, who should be resigning."
After calls from opposition Lib Dems for the review to be carried out in public at a scrutiny committee, involving councillors of all parties, the ruling Labour group has said that the details of the review will be made public.
Lib Dem leader Keith Aspden said:

“Since yesterday’s ruling the council seems to have just buried its head in the sand. What we need is decisive leadership to prevent things getting any worse."

“Lendal Bridge should be reopened and the cameras must be turned-off immediately. To do anything else would be extremely reckless and would risk doing further damage to York’s reputation. The council is opening itself up to costly legal challenges and claims of maladministration if it continues to enforce a policy which it has been told is essentially unlawful."

“We also need to know if the council has any plans to refund the 53,000 plus fines issued so far, how much this would cost, and how much legal advice is costing and is likely to cost in the future.”

The Lib Dem leader added that he believes the council has "lost control of events" and that the cameras should be turned off immediately. He has also challenged the council to say whether it plans to refund the 53,000 motorists fined since August, how much this would cost, and how much legal advice on the ruling is costing York Council.

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