AN INDEPENDENT survey is needed to see what people think of York’s controversial Lendal Bridge trial, one of the city’s political parties has claimed.
City of York Council’s Conservative group has raised doubts about whether the authority’s online survey into the scheme, which has banned private vehicles from the city-centre bridge for six-and-a-half hours a day since the end of last August, will accurately assess public opinion, saying it could be manipulated.
The official six-month trial period ended on Thursday but the restrictions – which have seen the Labour-controlled council receive £1.3 million in income from fines – will remain while a decision is made on whether to continue, extend or abandon them.
The Press this week revealed secret documents detailing behind-closed-doors council discussions over the trial.
The Tories said the cost of an independent poll would be minimal compared to the amount collected in fines and the importance of the issue to York’s reputation.
Their leader, Coun Chris Steward, said: “The decision on whether or not to permanently close Lendal Bridge is of massive importance for York, and I do not believe the council’s own online survey is adequate to underpin a decision of this magnitude.
“Not only is the council survey little-known, the questions have altered over time and, having been set by the council, are not necessarily the right questions to maximise a robust response. Any survey which requires voluntarily logging on to a website is skewed by self-selection and a person usually has an axe to grind, either feeling strongly pro or anti, to be motivated to seek out and complete it.”
Coun Steward said professional pollsters would give “a much more accurate reflection” of views. He said: “We have no preconceptions about the result, and neither should the Labour group – what matters is a truly fair survey.”
Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, said: “Clearly, great minds think alike, and it is always interesting when the opposition calls for something which is already happening.
“There is strong feeling both ways on this important issue, so independent polling will help us gain further views from the public before we reach our final decision. This polling will be funded from income already generated from the bridge trial.”