A FRESH debate will be held next week over the repayment of drivers fined for crossing York's Lendal Bridge during a controversial trial.
A senior scrutiny committee is meeting next Wednesday to discuss the plan to offer refunds only to people who apply, after a decision made by cabinet earlier this month was "called in" by opposition councillors.
Tens of thousands of fines were issued to drivers who crossed the bridge during a trial ban on private traffic last winter.
Liberal Democrat councillors Keith Aspden, Ian Cuthbertson and Ann Reid said the onus should not be on drivers to apply for their refund, especially as many people who were caught out by the ban do not live in York.
They have also called for the revenue from the fines, currently ring-fenced in council reserve funds, to be used to automatically refund people, and for apologies to be issued at the same time.
They have also claimed that universal refunds would save the council money by cutting down on administration costs, and get rid of uncertainty over how much the bridge closure will eventually cost the authority, and said the proposal runs in conflict with City of York Council's commitment to fairness.
A Labour spokesman said the bridge closure was planned to tackle congestion, and was not about making money, and said the city's reputation would be better served by councillors from all parties working together to reduce traffic problems.
He added: "While we do not accept the tribunal’s decision, the appeal has been pending for months with no end in sight and with the trial over this is not in the public interest. To address the ongoing uncertainty this has caused we have decided to voluntarily pay back fines as a gesture of goodwill where a request is made to the council, as no dispute exists unless a request is made. Officers are confident any costs can be met within existing budgets."
He said it was time to "draw a line under the issue" and said if opposition councillors were concerned about York's reputation, they would engage with the cross-party Congestion Commission.