Q: How do you respond to allegations that the council is anti-car? Kathryn S, Heworth.

A: The council is not anti-car but the capacity of our current road network is finite and York, in common with every other city in the country, has had to cope with the massive rise in car use nationally over the last decade with the obvious consequences for congestion and pollution.

This is bad for the economy and bad for people's health and in the light of this - and residents' demands that we cut traffic levels in the city to 1991 levels - we have had to work towards balancing these demands.

As well as encouraging motorists to use our highly-successful network of Park & Ride sites we have actually adopted a number of policies over the last few years to assist motorists. For residents we have responded to their demands for on-street parking in their own street by providing our Residents' Parking (Respark) scheme while visitors and commuters have been able to benefit from extensive investment in council car parks which have or are working towards the Government's secure car parking status.

This is largely down to our CCTV network which has slashed car crime by 70 per cent. This shows our commitment to helping the city's motorists but we also have a wider responsibility to the city's residents and in common with other European cities York is faced with a constant battle against congestion and pollution which is over the health limits in some places. York is compact, historic city and you cannot squeeze a quart into a pint pot.

Residents have time and time again told us that it is one of their biggest concerns both in our LTP consultation and in annual residents' opinion surveys.

By tackling congestion and by providing or encouraging alternatives we have actually made life easier for motorists - in fact, taking city centre and park and ride parking together there has been a six per cent increase over the last two years in the number of people parking in the city; all of this beneficial to the city's economy!

Q: Is the council encouraging people to use Park & Ride or are its parking policies forcing them away from cars and onto buses? Miss S Charles, Dunnington

A: Again we are seeking a balance which aims to make it easier for people to chose alternatives which is the central thrust of our five year £50m Local Transport Plan. Park & Ride is one of the options and it has been highly successful in taking 2,500 cars out of the city centre each day and 1.5 million journeys a year.

This has helped achieve a near five per cent reduction in city centre congestion - almost unprecedented in UK terms when most people's targets are aimed at slowing the rate of real-terms increase in traffic.

Of course we recognise that many people will still want to drive into the city centre, and I have already talked about our investment in city centre car parks, but we would prefer parking to cater for short-stayers who are important for the city centre's shops and businesses, rather than commuters whose impact on congestion is greater because of the time of day they travel.

The council has also been working with its partners like First York to improve bus services, has improved walking and cycling routes and has also invested in safer, more user-friendly city centre car parking facilities.

Q: The council want to make this a greener city: one of the major polluters are the tour buses. They have to run round empty or nearly empty off-peak, as, according to one tour bus firm, the council will only grant licenses to companies that have timetables that run throughout the year. Whilst nobody wants to see more of them on the road, why wasn't a compromise reached that would take seasonal fluctuations in to consideration before the licences were granted? Rachel L, York

A: The council does not license tour buses at all. The operators are licensed by an independent Traffic Commissioner to use their vehicles for hire and reward but are then free to use them as they see fit, subject to any traffic restrictions which are in place.

We continue to work for improvements and I have personally approached ministers to push for legislative amendments to give us more local control over tour buses.

We’ve been successful in persuading some local operators, like Guide Friday, to change to greener fuels. Equally we’ve approached the traffic commissioners regarding particular vehicles we believed were not meeting the required standards of emissions, but one of the problems is that the standards for older vehicles are not as tight as we would like.