AN ECO-CHAMPION has launched a campaign to ban cars within York’s Bar Walls.

John Cossham, a former Green council candidate for Hull Road, who tries to live an ultra-green lifestyle in his own home, claims it is time to consider pedestrianising the entire city centre.

He says other European cities, such as Groningen in the Netherlands, have realised that old walled cities with narrow streets are not compatible with the private car and have banned through traffic, and he foresees York following suit soon.

“When I moved to York in the 1980s there was heated debate about whether Deangate beside the Minster ought to be closed to motor traffic,” he said.

“The dinosaurs were braying about their right to drive through from Goodramgate to Duncombe Place and the enlightened people were saying: ‘Let’s give it a try’.

“I’m sure that everyone agrees that we’d never go back to having cars zipping through this lovely pedestrian area now.”

He also thought the daytime ban on private cars in The Stonebow, enforced by rising bollards, had improved the environment.

“Other car-free cities have seen improved business for local traders, reduced air pollution, noise pollution and accidents. Provision is made for disabled people, public transport and cyclists.”

Mr Cossham said he had started a campaign to explore, debate, trial and adopt a car-free city centre, within the walls. Although the campaign went no further than Facebook at this stage, he planned a public meeting this autumn to start the discussion.

The Press has reported before how Mr Cossham, also known as the children’s entertainer Professor Fiddlesticks, has a straw trap to ensure his used bath and washing up water is suitable for garden use, cooks food and heats water with near-carbon neutral smoke-free wood burning stoves, and composts leftovers.

Less traffic call

A SENIOR York councillor says he wants much less traffic in the city centre – but claims Mr Cossham’s initiative would depend on substantial investment in public transport and ring road improvements, which is unlikely in the present economic climate.

Coun Steve Galloway, executive member for city strategy, said the authority was already increasing the number of pedestrian areas, with Fossgate likely to be next on the list when funding became available.

He said many people now lived within the bar walls and their needs had to be respected.