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York Council Leader Dismisses Calls to Quit as Demands for Lendal Bridge Fine Refunds Grow

lendal bridge u-turn 070414

1:30pm 9th April 2014
(Updated 5:21pm 9th April 2014)

York Council leader James Alexander has dismissed calls for him to resign after the Lendal Bridge trial was abandoned last night.

The Labour politician said instead of calls for him to go, it was more important that people "move on" and "build a consensus" around how to tackle traffic congestion in York.

You can see David Dunning's full interview with James Alexander below:

It comes as the city council says it will not be issuing fines to drivers who have driven over Lendal Bridge since 1st April, effectively meaning that the bridge is now safe for motorists to go across. The official restrictions will be lifted on Saturday.

This morning Darren Richardson, Director of City and Environmental Services at York Council, said: “We remain confident that any PCN’s issued are valid and this follows independent legal advice confirming the trial was operating within the law. Restrictions will be lifted on Lendal Bridge on Saturday 12 April. Drivers are urged to continue to adhere to these restrictions until this date."

“Restrictions on Coppergate are permanent and have been in place since the 1960s and will continue to remain in place."

“We have said from the outset that 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."

“Doing nothing for York is not an option. A report will be taken to May 6 Cabinet outlining proposals to introduce a new commission to consider what should be done to tackle traffic congestion in York long-term."

“As it stands, it is also important to stress at this point that any income generated from PCNs and will be invested back into the city’s transport and highways infrastructure.”

But calls for that income the city council has made from fines to be refunded have grown this afternoon, with one of York's MP's calling for the fines to be refunded. York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said in a statement:

“I’m delighted to see the Council has u-turned on this disastrous policy. This is a major victory for common sense and I’m looking forward to easier access through the City Centre and less congestion in other areas of York as a result."

“It remains to be seen what will happen to the several million pounds worth of disputed fines. I’m aware that the Council is appealing the adjudicator’s judgement, but I fear this will only serve to prolong the severe embarrassment they’re already experiencing. I call on the Council to have the humility to repay the fines and bring about an end to this fiasco."

“I must praise the decisive action of Councillor Chris Steward and his colleagues who have been leading the opposition to this ill-thought through policy and holding its makers to account.”

Meanwhile, the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has called for the city's Outer Ring Road to be dualled as part of the solution to congestion. It's Chair Susie Cawood said:

“The Chamber is delighted that the City of York Council has listened to public opinion and is re-opening Lendal Bridge to cars. Our members have been very vociferous in their condemnation of this trial and will be relieved that they will not be hindered by idealistic transport strategies and can get on with doing business and creating wealth in the economy as well as providing jobs."

“We recognise the need for the City Council to address York’s increasing transport congestion challenges in line with the city’s growth and look forward to having some input into the commission the council is setting up to review these challenges."

“Indeed if the City of York Council is serious about reducing city centre congestion, the money needs to finally be found and the outer ring road made into a dual carriageway."

“York has a great deal to be positive about, its economy is one of the most resilient in the UK and there will be a unique  opportunity to advertise the region for both investment and tourism when images of York & North Yorkshire are broadcast around the world in July during the Tour de France."

“It’s now time to put this trial behind us and concentrate on the future development, growth and success of York and the wider region.”

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