POLITICAL rivals have opened cross-party talks aimed at securing Government cash to improve York’s Outer Ring Road.

The city’s Labour and Conservative MPs and the leaders of City of York Council’s four political groups yesterday discussed what the authority’s leader, Coun James Alexander, called a “united approach” to winning the vast sums needed to upgrade the route, where end-to-end morning journey times are set to increase from 20 minutes to more than an hour by 2021.

Options studied in recent years have included a dual-carriageway and larger roundabouts, while a new Park&Ride site at Clifton Moor and a Haxby station could ease traffic levels, but roads linked to the A1237 may also need improvements to make schemes work. The talks were attended by group leaders Couns Chris Steward, Keith Aspden and Andy D’Agorne, as well as MPs Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy.

Coun Alexander said: “I called for this meeting to grab the opportunity to work together to secure Government funds with both hands, so we can achieve the upgrading of the outer ring road.”

Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, said dualling the road is estimated to cost more than £350 million, and while schemes such as the British Sugar development would contribute financially towards some upgrades, the authority must seek national and European funding.

Dualling the stretch between Wetherby Road and Clifton Moor has been identified as a key aspiration and the council has begun preliminary work on potential upgrades.