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York's Lendal Bridge Trial Comes To An End

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5:01pm 11th April 2014

The controversial Lendal Bridge car ban in York has come to an end, just over a year after it was first proposed.

At 5.00pm tonight, it entered the history books bringing a bold and controversial experiment to a close.

Although the city council says the trial saw a "significant increase" in bus reliability and air quality with hotel booking and footfall up; ultimately the schemes unpopularity has seen it abandoned.

Here's a look back at a year since the controversial trial was first proposed:

David Dunning was down at Lendal Bridge to record it's last day of the trial.

Now, the bridge will re-open to cars as normal from tomorrow, after Labour councillors voted to abandon it earlier this week.

James Alexander released a statement on Tuesday saying:

"We have said from the outset the purpose of the Lendal Bridge trial is not to generate revenue, but to reduce traffic going over the bridge and through the city centre, as part of a long-term vision to create a more attractive and thriving city centre for us all - just as pedestrianisation of the city centre has."

"The principle of having a trial traffic restriction along Lendal Bridge was right and legal counsel has confirmed the implementation of the trial was fully legally compliant. Such a closure has been talked about since the 1970s and was called for by the Leader of the Conservative opposition before the last local elections. It was included in Liberal Democrat transport plans agreed by the council before they left office. Through the trial we have gathered valuable information about traffic flow and seen the benefits of significantly improved bus reliability and passenger numbers. Air quality has improved across the city and both footfall and hotel accommodation has recorded increases. It is however clear the trial has been polarising and we need greater consensus amongst residents and businesses over measures required to tackle congestion in our city."

"We have listened to business and the public alike and I am therefore announcing that after seeing results from the trial and these results being debated amongst my colleagues, I have asked the council's Chief Executive to lift the restriction from Saturday through the appropriate procedure."

"Doing nothing is not an option and tough decisions are required to tackle congestion. I have therefore asked for an independently chaired cross-party commission to be set up to take a long hard look at the data from this trial and to come up with more consensual suggestions as to how we tackle the great challenge of congestion in this city."

“A report will be taken to Cabinet’s meeting outlining these proposals. It is also important to stress the trial was contributed to by Government funds for these very type of experiments to improve the quality and use of buses. Any income generated through fines will be invested back into the city’s transport infrastructure in measures such as filling pot-holes and other improvements to the transport and traffic network.”

Cabinet Member for Transport Dave Merrett also said on Tuesday:

“The Lendal Bridge trial does not stand in isolation of the other measures we are taking to combat congestion through delivering new park and rides, facilitating improvements to bus services and pursuing an upgrade to the outer ring road."

"Transport schemes can often be complex and controversial. The decision to re-open the restriction in light of the public feedback shows why were right to undertake a trial rather than seeking to move straight to permanent implementation.”

There are still outstanding issues, including whether the 53,000 drivers who have been fined will get their money back. That's now part of a legal process being followed as York Council appeals a government appointed traffic judge's decision, which may have been the final blow in any chance of the trial being made permanent.

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