CCTV cameras installed to enforce new traffic rules on one of York’s busiest streets have only been operating half the time, it has emerged.
Tougher restrictions on cars and motorbikes using Coppergate were brought in by City of York Council in July, with the times when they are banned being extended to 7am to 7pm, instead of 8am to 6pm.
However, the £75,000 camera enforcement system has, until now, only operated from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm, outside the times when delivery vehicles can load and unload on Coppergate.
The restrictions now apply on Sundays, unlike previously, and Coun Ian Gillies, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said the authority risked being seen as “money-grabbing”.
The council said the cameras were only part of the enforcement process, with drivers using Coppergate at any time between 7am and 7pm liable to face £60 fines.
It said the rules were designed to reduce congestion and ease bus and taxi journeys, and were supported by North Yorkshire Police, York Retail Forum and the city’s Quality Bus Partnership. The street was previously closed to cars between 8am and 6pm.
Coun Gillies said pensioners, disabled residents and members of city-centre choirs and churches had criticised the Sunday restriction, questioning why it was needed on a day when few deliveries were made to businesses.
He said: “I fully support enforcement of appropriate traffic regulations and action in Coppergate is long overdue, while I also accept it is still an offence when the cameras are not working.
"I fervently believe the Sunday restriction is unnecessary and unfair, has resulted in the council being accused of generating income at best and being money-grabbing at worst, and there was little consultation. I have asked officers to remove the Sunday restriction and restore some goodwill.”
Richard Wood, the council’s assistant director of highways and transport, said: “The purpose of extending the traffic restrictions on Coppergate, in place since the 1960s, was to tackle those illegitimately driving and parking on this narrow road at any time, seven days a week.
“Using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology is an additional tool which, together with police enforcement, will tackle this problem. Regardless of when cameras are monitoring vehicles or not, this does not mean drivers can ignore restrictions during 7am and 7pm and commit an offence.”