A FRESH debate over the repayment of drivers fined for crossing York's Lendal Bridge during a controversial trial has concluded that motorists will not be refunded en masse.

A senior scrutiny committee met last night 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.

The Labour majority on the committee voted against calls to automatically refund motorists instead deciding to grant refunds only when motorists apply for them, winning 5-4.

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Ann Reid urged the Labour councillors to “reconsider this decision and try and repair some of the damage done to York’s reputation”.

Meanwhile, Conservative leader Cllr Chris Steward said after the meeting: "We are in a situation where people will have to apply for their money back. It's just wrong and against values of fairness. We just don't know what it's going to cost York - if everyone applies it will be more expensive."

A Labour spokesman said: "To address the ongoing uncertainty around this issue 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.

"Now that the Scrutiny Committee have agreed to this, the time has come for the opposition to positively engage with the independently-led, cross-party Congestion Commission, say what their ideas are, and try and agree a way to manage the traffic problems York faces."