UPDATED: Alexander and Merrett resignation calls fail at council meeting
The pair faced a vote in a full meeting of the City of York council this evening, with opposing councillors demanding a formal apology for the debacle, as well as full refunds for all those fined.
There was applause from the public gallery when Liberal Democrat leader Keith Aspden said the city would not be able move on from the trial until the two councillors apologised and resigned.
But the Labour majority voted down the motion proposed by Lib Dem members, and the current cabinet member for transport David Levene said the trial had never been about making money but was about tackling long running congestion problems in York.
The meeting also saw a row erupt over money made from the Tour de France, when Cllr Alexander accused Lib Dem councillor for Heworth Without, Nigel Ayre, of damaging the council’s income by running a campaign against Tour de France camping in the city.
He said the company due to run camp sites for the council had pulled out after the furore over Monk Stray.
Cllr Ayre objected, saying he only raised concerns about camping on Monk Stray, not across the city.
But the councillors were more united when it came to a vote on extra support for young carers. A motion calling for schools to get pupil premium extra finding for young carers was passed, while another about the way benefit changes are harming vulnerable people in the city was voted through by both the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups.
Earlier in the meeting Barrie Stephenson from York housing charity Restore told councillors of the struggles his organisations has faced since ten of their 26 tenants faced benefit cuts.
Council chief executive Kersten England will now write to the DWP expressing the council’s concern over the roll out of Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, and delays in processing Employment and Support Allowance claims.
At the same meeting, the council was received a petition, signed by more than 1000 people against fracking in York.
The 1400 signatures included 200 collected during the Tour de France celebrations, was presented after pleas by campaigners who urged the council do all they can to stop fracking coming to York.
Representatives of campaign group Frack Free York and Friends of the Earth spoke of their fears and urged action from the council. York and Ryedale's Friends of the Earth group's Richard Lane said: "The rights to explore in the area have already been sold, so you may say there's nothing we can do but that is not good enough."
Councils in Preston and across the country have already declared themselves "frack free", he added, and York council would be following a well trodden path in taking a stand.
"If you think York is worth protecting, you will not be alone. Please add your voices to this fight against the last gasp of the fossil fuel industry."
Retired engineer Chris Rainger also spoke to the council of his fears about the fracking process.
He said that like nuclear power, the fracking process is not fully understood, and unlike the USA the UK does not have the space to allow land to be damaged by fracking.
Councillors also spoke in the debate, and Cllr Alexander talked of the restraints national planning law puts on the council's ability to make a meaningful stand against shake has extraction.
But others, like Cllr Joe Watt cabinet member Cllr Dafydd Williams, sounded a note of caution against the anti fracking voices. Cllr Watt said he believed scientific evidence, rather than fear and scaremongering , should be used in assessing the practice. He added that this country will keep using fossil fuels for a number of years, and measures which reduce the UK's reliance on Russian and Middle Eastern supplies should be welcomed.
Green councillors Dave Taylor and Andy D'Agorne spoke of their objections to the practice, and said that despite the constraints of national law there were actions the council could take, through the upcoming local plan, to fight fracking.
The council also heard from people concerned about development plans for their areas.
Three different petitions, from Woodthorpe and Acomb Green; Earswick; and Strensall; were presented on behalf of residents who want to see greenbelt areas in their wards saved from development under the Local Plan, while others called for residents' parking zones, a 20 mph zone, and action to tackle anti social behaviour and improve public services.