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York transport chiefs reveal criteria for Lendal Bridge trial
TRANSPORT bosses have finally revealed how they will gauge whether the Lendal Bridge closure is a success - as thousands brace themselves for the controversial move.
City of York Council said Leeds University’s Institute of Transport Studies would independently evaluate how the traffic network operates, the impact on bus reliability and journey times and the ‘changes in the overall experience for residents and businesses.’
News of the evaluation came as one retailer revealed he was seriously considering leaving the city centre because of the likely impact of the bridge closure on top of a previous extension of pedestrian hours, and as dozens of small businesses claimed the closure would have a negative impact on them.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) sent out 1,477 surveys asking questions including: “Would the proposed closure of Lendal Bridge affect your business?”
The federation said 67 businesses answered that question, with 83.5 per cent saying there would be a negative effect.
The council has come under fire previously for not publishing the criteria it would use to assess the closure of the bridge to cars, motorbikes and lorries between 10.30am and 5pm, which begins next Tuesday as a six-month trial.
The authority has now said there will be traffic counts, surveys of residents and visitors, analysis of accident data and measurements of the impact on bus journey times, and also revealed that an interim report would be published after three months, assessing the initial impact.
The council said it had followed guidance from the Federation of Small Businesses for consulting with local firms.
Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, said: “Working with an independent body, we are undertaking comprehensive and open monitoring of the trial so everyone can see its impacts.”
Chris Watson, who owns Blackwell & Denton in Colliergate, which has been there for more than half a century, told The Press the council’s transport policies were making life increasingly difficult and he had contacted an agent to see what retail units were available at edge-of-town retail parks.
He said the extension of pedestrian hours had deterred customers who wanted to bring heavier items in for repair or collect heavy goods in their cars and made lorry deliveries difficult and dangerous.
But now the shop’s engineers and delivery people would face increased delays in getting across the city. He revealed that as an experiment, staff travelled around the city one day using alternatives to Lendal Bridge. They would normally have finished by 11am but that day it was 1.45pm, he said.
Darren Richardson, director of city and environmental services at the council, said the traffic trial supported the authority’s aim of reducing congestion on an important city centre route.
“We recognise that there will be a mix of views that will come forward, all of which will be important feedback,” he said.
“Comments can be given by visiting the consultation sessions on Parliament Street over the coming weeks – details at www.york.gov.uk/citycentreimprovements or via a questionnaire on the council’s website, to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
“In either case, it is essential we get as much information from users and businesses so we can fairly and objectively consider the next steps. A key part of this is working with all types of businesses in the city centre. I would urge everyone interested or affected by the trial to attend one of the consultation sessions or give feedback as detailed on the council’s website.”
Susie Cawood, head of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘We have received a great deal of feedback from our members about Lendal Bridge and a huge majority feel that this is not a positive move for businesses at a time when they should be given every support to thrive and grow.”
Tory opposition leader Ian Gillies claimed the decision to appoint outside experts to evaluate the bridge closure was a ‘cop-out,’ when the council employed its own officials who could have carried out the assessment.
Meanwhile, a confusing sign suggesting the bridge would only be closed for one day has been taken down. The sign in Lord Mayor’s Walk suggested that the bridge would be closed for one day only between 10.30am and 5pm on August 27.
A City of York Council spokesman said it was replaced within 24 hours of going up. They said: “They were temporary signs the AA put up. The signs for the actual trial were put up on Thursday.”
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