YORK'S Lendal Bridge traffic ban - one of the most controversial episodes in the city's recent history - has ended this afternoon.

City of York Council's ruling Labour group this week voted to abandon the restrictions which have prevented cars, vans, lorries and motorbikes from crossing the bridge for six-and-a-half hours a day since the end of August, following a Government traffic adjudicator's criticism of the scheme.

The bridge will be fully reopened from tomorrow, with enforcement of the restrictions having ended at 5pm today. More than 53,000 fines were issued during the six-month bridge trial, which ended on February 27 but with the rules staying in force ahead of a decision on its future.

This was due to be made by the Labour cabinet on May 6, but the party axed the restrictions at a meeting on Tuesday night, saying they had succeeded in many of their aims but had divided opinion across the city and a fresh look must be taken at how to tackle York's congestion problems.

Last week, adjudicator Stephen Knapp of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal said the council had no power to fine motorists for breaching traffic restrictions on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate because neither route could be classed as a bus lane. The council has insisted the schemes are lawful and is set to appeal against Mr Knapp's judgement.