LABOUR councillors have been accused of behaving like headless chickens, following the announcement of free parking for motorists within days of the reopening of Lendal Bridge.

City of York Council's decision to allow drivers to park for free on three mornings a week for the next year to boost the city centre economy, revealed by The Press, has been welcomed by retail leaders.

But Green councillor Dave Taylor claimed the ruling Labour group was bringing 'disaster' to the city with conflicting policies on retail and transport, while his colleague Andy D'Agorne said the parking decision could lead to greater morning rush hour congestion and air pollution.

Coun Taylor said in a letter to The Press that Labour had firstly backed a massive expansion of out-of-town retail at Monks Cross which the council's own retail consultants had predicted would cripple the city centre's economy with losses of £50 million per year.

Then it had 'botched' its own plan to reduce city centre congestion and air pollution by closing Lendal Bridge so badly that the trial had been abandoned without even presenting the evidence of its success or failure.

Finally, it had performed another volte-face by inviting more cars to pollute the city centre with free parking, with the lost car-parking revenue paid for by the developers of the out-of-town retail park. "Such mixed-up thinking brings the word "chickens" and "headless" to mind," he claimed.

York's Labour council leader James Alexander said Coun Taylor had shared the Conservatives’ disappointment when the new John Lewis store at Monks Cross was given approval, despite the boost to jobs and economic growth it delivered for York.

"After this decision, Coun Taylor and the other Green councillor said we should listen to city centre businesses and called for additional support," he said.

"Over at least the past six months, we have spoken with city centre businesses, listened and have now acted in response to those calls by introducing a one year pilot for free early morning parking when car parks are less full, something we think local businesses and residents in particular will welcome."