This is a time for some bold ideas

This is a time for some bold ideas

This is a time for some bold ideas

Published in Letters by

IT’S CLEAR that the council is wounded from the Lendal Bridge fiasco, and no surprise at all that the scent of blood has political rivals howling for a resignation.

But it was a trial. And before we see the results, all it’s shown is that the council didn’t do a good job of running a trial road closure – which is, it turns out, a damned complicated thing to do.

Now we read that more than 2,500 people have died across Yorkshire in one year as a result of pollution, mostly from road vehicles.

The Government has done precious little about this for decades, so the EU has launched legal action against us.

During the trial there have been political points aplenty racked up, but not one realistic alternative idea put forward for how we make our city a less car-choked place.

Dualling the ring road would be so absurdly expensive that it can be backed at no risk of actually proceeding.

I’m no Labour supporter, but I respect that Coun Dave Merrett tried something undeniably bold. Bold ideas are needed right now, and are in short supply from our politicians.

Richard Lane, Frances Street, York.


• NOW that the Lendal Bridge trial is over, I’d like to thank the council for its courage in proposing the closure.

Motor cars are damaging our city, our country and our planet, and, for a short while we enjoyed a rare example of a group of politicians doing what they thought was right in terms of the longer-term benefits to us all and to the environment, rather than giving in to lobbies representing sectional interests.

Also, for a short while, pedestrians and cyclists were able to get into and through the city centre with less danger than usual, cleaner air and much less noise.

Now it’s back to noise and fumes and all the hazards involved in trying to cycle across the bridge at the same time as semi-permanent queues of traffic.

I’m sad that the closure won’t be permanent, but I shall hang on to my own best memory which is of seeing and hearing a robin singing outside the Yorkshire Club one day and being able to hear another singing on the other side of the river outside the Aviva building – not possible when a hundred car engines are ticking over.

I know people will sneer, but I invite them to reflect on what kind of city we want to create for ourselves and our children.

So thanks again, Coun Alexander and Coun Merrett.

My own bet is that people in 50 years will judge that you were right.

Steve Flinders, Scarcroft Hill, York.


• I AGREE with Howard Perry (Letters, April 9 ) about Lendal Bridge. It is a pity that the trial has for some time descended into political point-scoring rather than trying to think of alternatives to reduce pollution, improve bus journeys and to make York a more pleasant place.

Very few letter writers have come up with any alternatives, and as for the opposition parties, only the Green Party has supported the need for a “live” trial.

The call by the Conservative and Liberal-Democrat Parties for resignations is politicking.

The Liberals should remember that there were no resignations when they were in power over the Barbican and Hungate fiascos.

All political parties make mistakes when in power, but the important thing is to ensure these are not repeated.

I am disappointed that the Liberals did not support the trial as I always thought that they liked to be seen as “beacons” for preserving the environment.

The management of the trial may have been handled better, and I hope that lessons will be learned for the future.

One advantage of the closure was that a walk down Gillygate was much more pleasant. Now we will be back to a polluted street and traffic delays.

Tim Short, Chestnut Grove, Acomb, York.


• I READ your recent report of the meeting of the Labour group with interest (The Press, April 9), yet found myself thinking it did not reflect the discussion that took place.

Our discussion was thoughtful, passionate and reflective of the challenging issues we are trying to deal with. We did not all have the same views, but we work together to explore the best way forward in spite of savage cuts imposed on York by the ConDem government.

We reached a consensus to which we are all committed. We expressed our support to our leader James Alexander and also to Dave Merrett, who brings expertise, knowledge and a vision – a vision which enabled York Labour to bring in the strategy for footstreets, also strongly opposed at the time yet one of the biggest benefits to the city as we enjoy all that York has to offer.

I hope other parties will join us to address the major transport challenges we have to face – how do we manage traffic, air pollution and ensure that we have bus services which effectively serve our residents.

We need to meet these enormous challenges by working together, together with all the expertise that resides in this city.

Coun Tina Funnell (Labour), Upper Price Street, York.


• SO, at a closed-door labour group meeting, James Alexander belatedly stopped the egregious, post-trial fining of drivers crossing Lendal Bridge – stupidly late, but the right thing to do, of course.

Then James, with his labour chums, unbelievably caved in and abandoned the whole scheme. Forget the niceties of democratic debate and decision making or even citizens seeing all the documents. Forget the formal meetings programmed in the calendar – there was his political career to attempt to salvage.

Instead of showing some mettle – debating the reports, he took the coward’s path.

If closing the bridge was so necessary, with so much money, reputation and political capital expended, surely it deserved more than being dropped ignominiously behind closed doors?

The decision showed a flagrant disregard to the democracy that James was supposed to lead. Instead of passing the investigation of what went wrong to an independent body, a ‘controlled’ internal review is ‘ordered’. Instead of initiating an independent commission a so-called ‘independently’ chaired cross party ‘committee’ was announced!

Every step in this fiasco was cowardly – it could have been so different.

Gwen Swinburn, Park Grove, York.


• WHY has it taken the Labour administration so long to understand that the debate over Lendal Bridge didn’t become political until Labour themselves made it so?

They did this by refusing to listen to valid criticism about the poor signposting; by denying that residents had a point when they described getting around the city being made a misery by the bridge’s closure; by selectively releasing information about the effects of the closure and claiming that it was working when statistics showed little change in bus use or bus times.

The Conservative group came out for reopening the bridge last autumn after it became clear from the information released by the council that any gains made by the closure were completely offset by the pain caused to residents and visitors alike.

Most residents had reached this conclusion by then as well, with no need to drag this failed experiment well into 2014. Perhaps Labour will listen to residents in 2015 when we will definitely have something to say.

Chris Thorpe, Wheldrake, York.


• FOLLOWING Peter Newton's very brief "Labour councillors resign" (Letters, April 4), may I add with similar brevity "Pigs might fly".

Martin Smith, Main Street, Elvington, York.

Comments (12)

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2:17pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Micklegate says...

How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter.
How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter. Micklegate
  • Score: -13

2:39pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Badgers Drift says...

Micklegate wrote:
How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter.
The only link I can think of is, that at a time when the purse strings rightly need to be drawn in, this council used valuable time, resources and money on a trial that the majority did not want or ask for.

Through it's inept and botched implementation, it has risked costing over a million pounds, if the pcn monies have to be returned.

Merrett sold York a pup with the scaremongering about how congestion is set to increases two or three fold in the next fifteen years, costing businessess £20-30m. Like the council's lack of measurement metrics and data ffor Lendal Bridge, I don't believe the statistics and predictions they make as they get it wrong all of the time.

The council's predictions for housing growth in their trajectories have been massively over-estimated, to the point where they are now scared to release a trajectory to support their Local Plan. The last trajectory was issued in 2011, and is usually updated every year, but, if they don't issue one, no one can check their predictions so they cannot be proved wrong. That is the way the cowardly Alexander and Merrett operate - opaquely and secretively = undemocratically !

Get them out in 2015 !
[quote][p][bold]Micklegate[/bold] wrote: How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter.[/p][/quote]The only link I can think of is, that at a time when the purse strings rightly need to be drawn in, this council used valuable time, resources and money on a trial that the majority did not want or ask for. Through it's inept and botched implementation, it has risked costing over a million pounds, if the pcn monies have to be returned. Merrett sold York a pup with the scaremongering about how congestion is set to increases two or three fold in the next fifteen years, costing businessess £20-30m. Like the council's lack of measurement metrics and data ffor Lendal Bridge, I don't believe the statistics and predictions they make as they get it wrong all of the time. The council's predictions for housing growth in their trajectories have been massively over-estimated, to the point where they are now scared to release a trajectory to support their Local Plan. The last trajectory was issued in 2011, and is usually updated every year, but, if they don't issue one, no one can check their predictions so they cannot be proved wrong. That is the way the cowardly Alexander and Merrett operate - opaquely and secretively = undemocratically ! Get them out in 2015 ! Badgers Drift
  • Score: -16

3:43pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Ichabod76 says...

Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn

I agree wholeheartedly
Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn I agree wholeheartedly Ichabod76
  • Score: -32

3:47pm Mon 14 Apr 14

strangebuttrue? says...

Taken aside the vast numbers of supporting letters we have seen in the last couple of days which actually seems like a well coordinated campaign. What still baffles me is that Mr Merrett who’s declared interests include: -

Greenpeace Member
Friends of the Earth Member
York Cycle Campaign Member
Honorary Member of the Cycle Touring Club
(which he declares and says are non prejudicial to his job.)

has sat on the committees which have responsibility for traffic in York since 2006 (according to his council record) regardless of which political party has been in at the time. Before Mr Merrett,
took a seat on these committees York had enjoyed a sustained period since 2002 of reduced volumes of traffic and pollution. Since Mr Merrett took his seat York has seen no increase in volume of traffic but sustained year on year increases in pollution levels rising by as much as 48% and more generally 33%. (All figures and statements taken from York council reports.)
I believe most would acknowledge that in that same period without any increases in traffic volume we have all experienced increases in congestion which as we have seen is not being caused by volume. How can that be????
In the period since 2006 York has seen many of its roads closed or carriageway space taken up by bus and cycle lanes and the corralling of vehicles into ever decreasing spaces. We have seen many new traffic lights introduced at which some, according to many council reports, lights are set short (less green time or congestion creating) to dissuade drivers from using York’s roads. Amazingly some of these traffic lights also turn red as you approach then in the middle of the night when no other road users are about. We have seen bus lay-bys taken out meaning every time a bus stops all other traffic stops and then has to start again using up to 400% more fuel in doing so along with bus gates which have the same effect. Other schemes have included the dangerous use of cyclists to slow traffic through junctions and completely unnecessary toucan crossing installation where zebra crossings did a far more effective and efficient job and did not leave traffic standing for an additional 5 to 10 seconds after crossings were clear adding to the numbers of vehicles stopped.
Lendal Bridge was just another in a succession of these anti car measures but it’s introduction had a far more noticeable and immediate effect on increased congestion.
Could it be these very measures that are causing all of our problems? I would suggest they are in the absence of any other reasonable explanation.
Those who say that opponents just moan and complain and come up with no alternatives to the measures introduced may wish to come back with an alternative to explain how we are getting more pollution and congestion in the same period as we have had no increase in the volume of traffic but I do note that many generally just deny that some of the measures above have been introduced or have the effect I describe which is a little ludicrous as we can physically see them and the council say they have and do.
So one again I offer the same solution. Take out all the anti car measures introduced since 2006.
Taken aside the vast numbers of supporting letters we have seen in the last couple of days which actually seems like a well coordinated campaign. What still baffles me is that Mr Merrett who’s declared interests include: - Greenpeace Member Friends of the Earth Member York Cycle Campaign Member Honorary Member of the Cycle Touring Club (which he declares and says are non prejudicial to his job.) has sat on the committees which have responsibility for traffic in York since 2006 (according to his council record) regardless of which political party has been in at the time. Before Mr Merrett, took a seat on these committees York had enjoyed a sustained period since 2002 of reduced volumes of traffic and pollution. Since Mr Merrett took his seat York has seen no increase in volume of traffic but sustained year on year increases in pollution levels rising by as much as 48% and more generally 33%. (All figures and statements taken from York council reports.) I believe most would acknowledge that in that same period without any increases in traffic volume we have all experienced increases in congestion which as we have seen is not being caused by volume. How can that be???? In the period since 2006 York has seen many of its roads closed or carriageway space taken up by bus and cycle lanes and the corralling of vehicles into ever decreasing spaces. We have seen many new traffic lights introduced at which some, according to many council reports, lights are set short (less green time or congestion creating) to dissuade drivers from using York’s roads. Amazingly some of these traffic lights also turn red as you approach then in the middle of the night when no other road users are about. We have seen bus lay-bys taken out meaning every time a bus stops all other traffic stops and then has to start again using up to 400% more fuel in doing so along with bus gates which have the same effect. Other schemes have included the dangerous use of cyclists to slow traffic through junctions and completely unnecessary toucan crossing installation where zebra crossings did a far more effective and efficient job and did not leave traffic standing for an additional 5 to 10 seconds after crossings were clear adding to the numbers of vehicles stopped. Lendal Bridge was just another in a succession of these anti car measures but it’s introduction had a far more noticeable and immediate effect on increased congestion. Could it be these very measures that are causing all of our problems? I would suggest they are in the absence of any other reasonable explanation. Those who say that opponents just moan and complain and come up with no alternatives to the measures introduced may wish to come back with an alternative to explain how we are getting more pollution and congestion in the same period as we have had no increase in the volume of traffic but I do note that many generally just deny that some of the measures above have been introduced or have the effect I describe which is a little ludicrous as we can physically see them and the council say they have and do. So one again I offer the same solution. Take out all the anti car measures introduced since 2006. strangebuttrue?
  • Score: -38

5:23pm Mon 14 Apr 14

zorpie says...

Micklegate wrote:
How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter.
Too true.

York Labour complain about government cuts affecting York but there has been no austerity here, only a few potholes deliberately left unfilled so Cllr Alexander has something to complain about.
[quote][p][bold]Micklegate[/bold] wrote: How did the Labour councillor manage to link the Lendal Bridge disaster to cuts from the government? What a bizarre letter.[/p][/quote]Too true. York Labour complain about government cuts affecting York but there has been no austerity here, only a few potholes deliberately left unfilled so Cllr Alexander has something to complain about. zorpie
  • Score: -39

6:00pm Mon 14 Apr 14

wildthing666 says...

I want the fine back, I paid £30 because my son got caught out by the Lendal brige scam and I urge others to follow in getting the council to repay fined motorists for this illegal scam
I want the fine back, I paid £30 because my son got caught out by the Lendal brige scam and I urge others to follow in getting the council to repay fined motorists for this illegal scam wildthing666
  • Score: -27

6:14pm Mon 14 Apr 14

roadwars says...

"Now we read that more than 2,500 people have died across Yorkshire in one year as a result of pollution, mostly from road vehicles."
I missed that report, a bit scary though...Really?
"Now we read that more than 2,500 people have died across Yorkshire in one year as a result of pollution, mostly from road vehicles." I missed that report, a bit scary though...Really? roadwars
  • Score: -18

7:09pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Pinza-C55 says...

Richard Lane said "Now we read that more than 2,500 people have died across Yorkshire in one year as a result of pollution, mostly from road vehicles. "
Really Richard? Can you name them? Or do you simply suck up everything you read and see how it fits with your personal opinions ?
Richard Lane said "Now we read that more than 2,500 people have died across Yorkshire in one year as a result of pollution, mostly from road vehicles. " Really Richard? Can you name them? Or do you simply suck up everything you read and see how it fits with your personal opinions ? Pinza-C55
  • Score: -9

12:48am Tue 15 Apr 14

Badgers Drift says...

Ichabod76 wrote:
Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn I agree wholeheartedly
Gwen got it spot on.

Her knowledge and experience with governance means that this council cannot pull the wool over her eyes. She is onto their case, has exposed multiple breaches of rules/protiocols, and they are running scared. It is time that they listened to her, showed her some respect and played by the rules. if they persist with their conduct they will dig themselves deeper into the mire and suffer the consequences.

Because of Gwen, word is getting around, and more York citizens (plus the ICO and the LGO) are becoming aware of the extent of the councils wrongdoing, which is disgraceful.
[quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn I agree wholeheartedly[/p][/quote]Gwen got it spot on. Her knowledge and experience with governance means that this council cannot pull the wool over her eyes. She is onto their case, has exposed multiple breaches of rules/protiocols, and they are running scared. It is time that they listened to her, showed her some respect and played by the rules. if they persist with their conduct they will dig themselves deeper into the mire and suffer the consequences. Because of Gwen, word is getting around, and more York citizens (plus the ICO and the LGO) are becoming aware of the extent of the councils wrongdoing, which is disgraceful. Badgers Drift
  • Score: -24

5:06am Tue 15 Apr 14

Magicman! says...

wildthing666 wrote:
I want the fine back, I paid £30 because my son got caught out by the Lendal brige scam and I urge others to follow in getting the council to repay fined motorists for this illegal scam
So, basically, you want every resident to pay more money on their council tax bill next year, just because your son didn't have his eyes open when he was driving.... £30 might get another driving lesson, where the instructor can repeat advice about looking for road signs, and what they mean.
[quote][p][bold]wildthing666[/bold] wrote: I want the fine back, I paid £30 because my son got caught out by the Lendal brige scam and I urge others to follow in getting the council to repay fined motorists for this illegal scam[/p][/quote]So, basically, you want every resident to pay more money on their council tax bill next year, just because your son didn't have his eyes open when he was driving.... £30 might get another driving lesson, where the instructor can repeat advice about looking for road signs, and what they mean. Magicman!
  • Score: 3

7:47am Tue 15 Apr 14

inthesticks says...

Badgers Drift wrote:
Ichabod76 wrote:
Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn I agree wholeheartedly
Gwen got it spot on.

Her knowledge and experience with governance means that this council cannot pull the wool over her eyes. She is onto their case, has exposed multiple breaches of rules/protiocols, and they are running scared. It is time that they listened to her, showed her some respect and played by the rules. if they persist with their conduct they will dig themselves deeper into the mire and suffer the consequences.

Because of Gwen, word is getting around, and more York citizens (plus the ICO and the LGO) are becoming aware of the extent of the councils wrongdoing, which is disgraceful.
And may I say, that the tactic from as high up as KE of blocking and trying to gag (Yes you TSL) is noted by citizens. It is petty, undemocratic, unprofessional and makes it look like you have something to hide. It is also backfiring on you all but, hey, you reap what you sow.
Gwen has offered to help the council to be transparent and democratic, I think they should take her up on that because frankly KE, you have been rubbish at it so far!
[quote][p][bold]Badgers Drift[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ichabod76[/bold] wrote: Excellent letter from Gwen Swinburn I agree wholeheartedly[/p][/quote]Gwen got it spot on. Her knowledge and experience with governance means that this council cannot pull the wool over her eyes. She is onto their case, has exposed multiple breaches of rules/protiocols, and they are running scared. It is time that they listened to her, showed her some respect and played by the rules. if they persist with their conduct they will dig themselves deeper into the mire and suffer the consequences. Because of Gwen, word is getting around, and more York citizens (plus the ICO and the LGO) are becoming aware of the extent of the councils wrongdoing, which is disgraceful.[/p][/quote]And may I say, that the tactic from as high up as KE of blocking and trying to gag (Yes you TSL) is noted by citizens. It is petty, undemocratic, unprofessional and makes it look like you have something to hide. It is also backfiring on you all but, hey, you reap what you sow. Gwen has offered to help the council to be transparent and democratic, I think they should take her up on that because frankly KE, you have been rubbish at it so far! inthesticks
  • Score: -53

10:18pm Tue 15 Apr 14

Mean Mr Mustard says...

Strangebuttrue? You have hit the nail on the head! I have driven round York for a living for nearly 40 years now, and the most ludicrous change was the traffic light system on The Mount - lights every 10 yards! Really? Yesterday the lights at the top of Scarcroft Road were out of action. Result? No queues - everybody took turns to filter through the junction. Every time traffic lights fail I see the traffic flowing much better , but it would be far too bold (and non-PC) to suggest the German model of setting all lights to flashing amber - "take care at this junction!"
Strangebuttrue? You have hit the nail on the head! I have driven round York for a living for nearly 40 years now, and the most ludicrous change was the traffic light system on The Mount - lights every 10 yards! Really? Yesterday the lights at the top of Scarcroft Road were out of action. Result? No queues - everybody took turns to filter through the junction. Every time traffic lights fail I see the traffic flowing much better , but it would be far too bold (and non-PC) to suggest the German model of setting all lights to flashing amber - "take care at this junction!" Mean Mr Mustard
  • Score: 0

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