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.