CITY-CENTRE streets in York are to become free of cars for longer in a bid to keep shoppers and pedestrians safe.

The times when the city’s footstreet rules apply and vehicles are restricted will be extended by ten-and-a-half hours a week in a trial lasting up to 18 months.

Cars will also be banned from Davygate for most of the day and proposals to close Spurriergate’s entrance from Nessgate to vehicles, apart from three and a half hours each morning, will be consulted on.

The decision made last night by Coun Dave Merrett, pictured, City of York Council’s cabinet member for transport, means footstreet hours will be standardised to apply between 10.30am and 5pm every day. At present, different times apply on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Coun Merrett has also asked for a study into whether a 40mph speed limit can be introduced on the A19 at Deighton, but with 50mph buffer zones either side of the village.

The council’s transport officers recommended reducing the current 60mph limit to 50mph but residents say the road, where a teenager was killed earlier this year, is an accident blackspot and only a 40mph limit would solve its problems.

Resident David Dickman said at the meeting: “Ordinary working people came together for this cause and don’t see how every other village in York and North Yorkshire has a 40mph limit, while we are denied by what seems like bureaucracy, rulebooks and conjecture.”

Coun Merrett said he was “sympathetic” to the calls but had to take Government guidance and “limited enforcement resources” into account. He said the study would assess whether a 40mph limit could be implemented and paid for but said introducing it was “not a promise”.

He also approved a pedestrian crossing and pavement improvements on the Fishergate gyratory near York Barbican, aimed at making the area safer. The cost was originally estimated at £200,000 but officers last night said it was now likely to be about £250,000.

Work will also be carried out at the junction of St Leonard’s Place, Gillygate and Bootham to make more space for cyclists, remove unnecessary guardrails and add new road markings.