FRESH questions are being asked about the decision to offer refunds for Lendal Bridge fines.
Yesterday, the City of York Council's cabinet made a formal decision that Lendal Bridge legal challenge will be dropped and drivers will be offered a refund for their fines, but the plans have already been called into question by opposition parties.
In a brief half hour meeting, the cabinet members approved the plan meaning council officers will now have to work out a refunds application process to give back the 60,000 fines issued during the trial closure.
In the meeting, cabinet member for transport Cllr David Levene said the trial had not been about making money but about tackling issues of congestion, air quality, and public transport in the city, but almost three months after the council first lodged its legal appeal about Lendal Bridge, public concern was growing meaning it was time to move on.
Along with council leader Cllr James Alexander and cabinet member Cllr Janet Looker, he called for the other parties to take part in the cross party congestion commission.
But after the meeting both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups confirmed they would be "calling in" the refunds decision, meaning it has to go before another committee meeting before it can be finally approved.
Conservative group leader Chris Steward said his party wanted to see the refunds issued across the board, not just to those who apply.
Liberal Democrat member Ian Cuthbertson made a case for all fines to be refunded in full without question. He said the trial had done serious damage to the city, and a single block repayment would be the most straightforward way to proceed.
After the meeting, Liberal Democrat group leader Keith Aspden added: "If the fines are not repaid automatically, this risks doing further reputational damage to York through an unclear individual repayment process, where some get their money back but others don’t. It will also create the impression that the council is trying to hang on to as much of the fine money as possible."
The cabinet meeting also saw approval for a scheme to offer business rate relief to shops opening up on Front Street, Acomb, as part of a plan to regenerate the area, and a report on Fairtrade in the city discussed.
Cabinet members spoke in support of the Fairtrade movement, and gave their approval to plans to renew the city's Fairtrade status, and to look at new ways of promoting Fairtrade produce around York.