AN EXPERIMENT to extend the pedestrian only hours in York's city centre streets has been made permanent, despite objections from market traders and delivery companies.
York council's Cabinet Member for Transport Dave Merrett decided to follow the advice of council officials and make the changes - which moved the restricted hours to 10.30am - 5pm on many of the city centre's streets - at a decision session on Thursday.
The plans will also restrict vehicles access to Stonegate to the hours of 5.30-10am, and put bollards in the St Helen's Square end of Stonegate to enforce a "loading only" period.
The new, longer, footstreet times mean market traders in the regular Newgate Market and in specialist markets in Parliament Street cannot get vehicles into the city centre to pack up their goods until after 5pm, leading to objections that the rules extend the market's day and keep traders stuck at empty stalls for hours into the afternoon when their stock has sold and customers gone home.
Dorothy Best, from Easingwold Country Market, told Coun Merrett's decision session on Thursday that customers for her stall, and many others at the farmers' market, arrive early to buy fresh produce. By mid afternoon, empty stalls leave a bad impression for shoppers but traders cannot pack up and leave until the end of the footstreet hours at 5pm.
The plans also drew objections from delivery drivers, who spoke up about their problems delivering to dozens of businesses in the pedestrian hours before the roads shut at 10.30am.
But despite the problems they have caused council official Alistair Briggs recommended the new restrictions become permanent, even he admitted the council does not have details of footfall levels through the trial period.
Coun Merrett said the longer pedestrian hours were part of a "trade off" designed to extend the city centre's trading hours and bring an end to the feeling the streets close for business in the mid afternoon.
He said: "When trying to run the city centre there are compromises involved. We cannot satisfy everybody all the time."
The scheme will also give officials the power to use an exemption for early finishes at the market so traders can leave the market before 5pm in bad weather, and when trade is poor.