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First week ‘amnesty’ for Lendal Bridge ban drivers
DRIVERS who have breached the new Lendal Bridge restrictions in the first week of the trial will not be fined, following a U-turn by transport chiefs.
The bridge has been closed to private cars, motorbikes, vans and lorries between 10.30am and 5pm every day in a six-month experiment which began last Tuesday.
But hundreds of vehicles ignored or missed the new rules during the first days of the trial.
City of York Council did not originally intend granting an amnesty on fines, but it announced yesterday that no £60 penalty charge notices will be issued to motorists who breached the regulations up to the end of yesterday. Instead fines will be issued from today.
Claims have been made that signs indicating the trial were misleading.
Darren Richardson, the council’s director of city and environmental services, said: “We have said from the outset that the purpose of the trial is not to generate revenue, but to reduce traffic going over the bridge and through the city centre as part of a long-term vision to create a more attractive and thriving city centre for us all.
“This grace period of one week has provided us with the opportunity to observe the restrictions in place and undertake additional publicity to further help residents, businesses and visitors comply with the restrictions. Any future income generated from penalty charge notices will be invested back into the city’s highway infrastructure.”
A survey by The Press on the trial’s first day found 108 banned vehicles drove across the bridge during the first hour of the closure, and 186 more used it between 4pm and 5pm.
Conservative councillor Chris Steward said: “The process of closure has been a farce and the lack of signs, their late appearance and their confused nature means the decision to give a period of grace has become necessary.
“This continues to test residents’ patience to the limit.” Coun Ann Reid, the Liberal Democrats’ transport spokeswoman, said the amnesty amounted to a council admission that signs were “inadequate” and it would have had problems enforcing fines from the closure’s first week.
She said: “Because the decision to close Lendal Bridge was rushed and made without any consultation or being properly thought through, these sorts of problems were always likely to happen.”
Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “The Lendal Bridge restrictions have to be signed in accordance with the Department for Transport manual, which is a legal requirement if the restriction is to be enforceable.
“We followed this manual to the letter and went further in terms of signage to alert drivers of the restriction. The grace period agreed reflects the fact that a short transition period will help in ensuring the new policy is successful and that the public is fully informed”.
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