York Free Parking Scheme Leads to Traffic Jam Row
8:00am 3rd May 2014
An attempt to boost business in York city centre by introducing free parking between 8am and 11am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays has led to a war of words.
Opposition Liberal Democrats and Greens have asked for the project to be reviewed, with Liberal Democrats tweeting that it could lead to more traffic jams during the morning rush hour in the city.
In response, York Council's ruling Labour group have accused their opponents of being anti-business. David Levene, Cabinet Member for Transport, said:
"This free parking pilot scheme is a boost to residents, traders and visitors, and demonstrates our commitment to maintaining the recent above-average increase in city centre footfall and building a Business Improvement District. We will of course closely monitor the impact on footfall as well as a number of other transport measures."
"Labour has been working with businesses to introduce this pilot scheme for around six months. We have listened to the concerns of traders and their recommendations on the detail, and have acted. It is disappointing the Liberal Democrats believe they know best and that city centre traders are ‘short-sighted’. It is clear York Liberal Democrats are not on the side of local businesses - a couple of months ago they tried to get the council to cease its small business rates relief scheme."
But Liberal Democrats have hit back saying they are not anti-business. Huntington and New Earswick councillor Carol Runciman said:
"The Liberal Democrat Group support sensible initiatives to help city-centre businesses. However, Labour’s proposal would encourage more traffic on already congested roads in the morning rush hour and could be confusing to visitors as the free parking will only be available at certain sites and on certain days."
"It also appears to contradict the findings of a cross-party scrutiny review which has just recommended that free parking is introduced from 5pm in order to help bring people into the city in the evenings. After their botched Lendal Bridge trial, which increased congestion and damaged local businesses, I don’t think residents will have much faith in Labour to get it right this time."
"We also need a proper explanation as to why money earmarked to help the local community in Huntington to cope with the new Monk Cross development is being spent on the city-centre. Residents need to be told what local improvement schemes could be scrapped as a result of Labour’s decision."
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