A MOTORISTS' lobbying group has attacked York's handling of the trial closure of Lendal Bridge - and drawn parallels with the problems experienced by other local authorities.
The National Motorists Action Group claimed City of York Council's enforcement of traffic restrictions, preventing cars using the bridge during the day, had been a 'fiasco'.
General Secretary Alex Henney said in a letter to chief executive Kersten England that it fully recognised the great difficulties facing the authority in attempting to improve the traffic situation within the constraints of an inadequate road infrastructure.
"However it is impossible to understand how such an ill-devised signing of the un-workable restriction was ever allowed to come into being with the easily-foreseeable failure of many motorists being able to comply," he said.
"It is shocking and inexcusable that the council failed to cease enforcement after a few weeks when it was confirmed that very many motorists were either unable to understand or had become unable to comply with the restrictions."
The general secretary also criticised the decision to refund fines as a goodwill gesture only to those who applied, claiming there was no lawful course of action other than to write to everyone to tell them they could claim a refund.
He said that in June 2012, Hertfordshire County Council had set about refunding more than £800,000 of penalty charges in relation to an unlawfully-implemented and extensively misunderstood bus lane restriction at Hemel Hempsted, which had been not unlike the Lendal Bridge situation.
A York council spokeswoman said it was 'still finalising the process at the moment,' and until this happened, it could only reiterate a previous statement at this stage, saying that refunds would be made, provided requests were made through the council application process.
That process was currently in development and it was anticipated this would be launched in the near future.
Tory group leader Chris Steward said he was pleased the NMAG supported his calls for all Lendal Bridge fines to be refunded, adding: "The involvement of a national body like NMAG just shows how much York’s reputation is being damaged by the actions of the Labour cabinet and their dodging and weaving on the issue."
A Labour spokesperson said the time had come to 'draw a line under the issue, move on, and try and agree a way to manage the traffic problems York faces,' adding: "We hope the Conservatives decide to engage with this process and say what their ideas are rather than trying to score political points.”