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City of York Council rejects bike champion plea
YORK council chiefs have dismissed a Government minister’s call for a “cycling commissioner” to be appointed to make the city’s roads safer.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said every city should have such a cycling chief, even those without an elected mayor.
However, he stressed that the final decision on whether to appoint someone into the role should rest with local authorities.
City of York Council used to have “cycling champions”, whose role was to act on behalf of the local community to ensure the authority fully considered cyclists and cycling in its policy-making.
in 2009, Conservative councillor Joe Watt quit as cycling champion after a year in the position, revealing he had felt uneasy in the role and claiming that York was becoming “anti-car”.
He was replaced in the job by Green Party leader Andy D’Agorne, but the council then axed the champion’s roles in May last year.
Council leader James Alexander said yesterday such champions “lacked the teeth’” required to effect real change in their respective areas.
He said such responsibilities would therefore be taken on by the relevant cabinet members who had the authority to take meaningful decisions.
He said: “In terms of cycling, we couldn’t have more of a champion for cycling in the city than the current cabinet member for city strategy, Coun Dave Merrett, who’s campaigned for better cycling routes and other provision for cyclists for the best part of 30 years.
“He’s leading on developing the new £4.6 million Intelligent Travel York initiative off the back of the successes of the former Cycling City York, and leading on work with transport partners across the city to improve sustainable travel in York, so I see no need to create another position for responsibilities Coun Merrett has already taken on.”