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Royal Mail’s Lendal Bridge ban reprieve slated
A COURIER claims Royal Mail is being given an unfair competitive advantage by being allowed to use York’s Lendal Bridge when he has to take lengthy diversions.
David Broughton, who runs York Delivery Services, based in Murton, said he previously crossed the bridge about two or three times a day while carrying out deliveries across the city.
Now, following City of York Council’s trial closure of the bridge to most vehicles between 10.30am and 5pm, he has to take a diversion, generally via Clifton Bridge, which is costing him extra fuel bills but also, more importantly, his time.
He said he had been incensed when he read in The Press last week that Royal Mail vehicles were still able to use the bridge, feeling this gave it an unfair advantage.
He contacted his councillor, Independent Mark Warters, who wrote to the council to ask whether the decision complied with European competition laws.
But Darren Richardson, the council’s director of city and environmental services, told The Press that Royal Mail had a statutory duty to deliver letters, and was therefore permitted access.
“Their Parcel Force courier service however isn’t, as this is non-statutory,” he said.
He said a detailed FAQ for delivery drivers was available from york.gov.uk/citycentreimprovements, and said delivery loading and unloading hours remained unaffected by the Lendal Bridge trial and were in line with existing footstreet hours between 10.30am and 5pm, seven days a week.
Darren Capes, transport systems manager, has also written to Coun Warters, saying that if another carrier began operating a letter post service in York – as might happen when Royal Mail was privatised – then their letter post vehicles would also be covered by the exemption.
He said: “As it is only the statutory function of Royal Mail that is covered, not the commercial function, I do not believe there is a state aid issue here.”
Coun Warters said he would forward Mr Capes’ comments to an expert in European law he knew, to get his opinion on that conclusion.
The list of who is allowed to use Lendal Bridge
IT has emerged that while emergency ambulances can use the bridge, patient transfer ambulances must take a diversion.
Darren Capes, transport systems manager, told Coun Mark Warters that penalty charges would not be issued to any liveried “blue-light” vehicle under any circumstances.
He said the council also had an agreement with North Yorkshire Police that “vehicles used in connection with police purposes” were exempt.
“As well as police vehicles with blue lights, this also covers unmarked police vehicles being used in connection with operational activities – CID, for example.
“We are relying on NYP to ‘police’ this arrangement.”
A council spokeswoman said the full list of exemptions was: all emergency services, all bus operators, all taxi services, maintenance vehicles – the council fleet, highways and waste collections, out-of-hours doctors, Yorkshire Water flood-response vehicles, the National Railway Museum’s road train, vehicles belonging to businesses on the bridge, horse and carts, Royal Mail postal deliveries, cyclists and pedestrians.
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