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Conservative leader defends call to end Lendal Bridge traffic ban early
10:00am Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in News
A LEADING councillor has defended his party’s call for the Lendal Bridge traffic trial to be abandoned early after political opponents said he supported closing it three years ago.
City of York Council’s Conservative group has formally asked the authority to end the six-month experiment, which bans cars, motorbikes, vans and lorries from the bridge between 10.30am and 5pm, ahead of its scheduled conclusion in February.
The Tories claim it is harming city-centre businesses and York’s reputation.
The ruling Labour group claimed this was “opposition for opposition’s sake” after pointing to Conservative leader Coun Ian Gillies’ comments in a 2010 Press article, when he said he would like to see the bridge closed for a period and shutting Ouse Bridge should also be considered.
Westfield councillor Steve Burton said: “We’re now hearing him calling for a halt to the trial based on nothing more than his personal observations, rather than the full evidence of the final report. Labour’s position is to wait for the evidence on the trial which is being independently gathered, so where do the Tories stand?”
Coun Gillies said a report on the trial’s second month showed driver fines and congestion on some major roads had increased, no details of increased bus passenger numbers had been provided and city-centre traders believed the closure was contributing to declining footfall.
He said: “The report fails to show any successful outcomes.
“There is no criticism of trying the experiment but it is not working, so end it. That is the position of the Conservative group.”
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