A ROW blew up today after it emerged that a diversion used by drivers since the partial closure of York's 'Bishy Road' will itself be blocked by resurfacing works every night for a week.

City of York Council is planning to close Nunnery Lane – part of the York inner ring road - from 7.30pm to 5am from June 15 to June 23.

But since Bishopthorpe Road controversially closed to outbound traffic, drivers wanting to get to destinations such as South Bank and Bishopthorpe have been sent on a diversion along Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street.

When Nunnery Lane closes, they will have to go on a longer detour through the city centre and past the station.

The council says its recommended diversion for a driver going, for example, from Fishergate to Scott Street, off Scarcroft Road, will be: Tower St, Clifford St, Bridge St, Micklegate, George Hudson St, Rougier St ,Station Rd, Queen St, Blossom St and Scarcroft Rd.

A spokeswoman said the decision to carry out works on Nunnery Lane was made prior to the closure of Bishopthorpe Road to outbound traffic, which aims to create more space for pedestrians outside the ‘Bishy Road’ shops and ensure they can socially distance during the coronavirus crisis.

She said: “Tadcaster Road, James Street and Nunnery Lane all formed batch one of the 2020/2021 highway works programme, programmed in March 2020 before the Bishopthorpe closure was decided upon.” She made no mention of other roads being closed.

However, Micklegate Labour councillor Peter Kilbane said today it was 'surprising' to see that the council’s briefing to The Press and a letter sent to residents and businesses failed to make clear that resurfacing work would also be taking place on Prices Lane, a section of Bishopgate Street and a short stretch of Bishopthorpe Road alongside Nunnery Lane.

"This work necessitates the closure of Skeldergate Bridge, irrespective of the the safety measures in place on Bishopthorpe Road," he said.

"This is clearly a sensitive subject and it would be a shame to think tensions were being deliberately stoked. We really need accuracy and an even handed approach if we are to navigate the easing of lockdown successfully."

The council's Green Party transport executive member, Cllr Andy D'Agorne, said resurfacing work was being carried out at night to minimise traffic disruption and Nunnery Lane would remain open to traffic during the daytime.

"The work will extend to include all of the gyratory so will block all access to and from Bishopthorpe Road each evening," he said.

"Doing this essential work now will be less disruptive than waiting until later in the year."

The news comes after more than 1,600 people have signed a Change.org online petition which calls for the council to ‘Cancel the temporary 1 way system on Bishopthorpe Road’ and claims that when lockdown is completely lifted,it will cause gridlocked roads, more idling vehicles and worse pollution.

Conservative group leader Paul Doughty has also claimed Covid-19 is being ‘cynically used by the Lib Dem Green coalition as the next stage in the war on the motorist,’ and claimed diversions are worsening congestion.

But Cllr Kilbane and colleague Cllr Johnny Crawshaw, have said they find it ‘incredibly disappointing that the local Conservative Party has chosen to play politics with the opening of Bishy Road for pedestrians.’ They said they ‘acknowledge the closure will inconvenience some people but feel the diversion is proportionate to the need to protect public safety.’

Cllr Kilbane said they had been observing traffic flow in Nunnery Lane at peak times and found no problems, although there had been some ‘occasionally intrusive rat-running,’ adding: "We know this is a thorny issue, but the widening of the pavements was done to enable social distancing, in line with Government guidance to keep 2m apart.”

He said Cllr Doughty chaired the council’s health scrutiny committee and claimed that for him to call for the scrapping of public health protection measures was ‘irresponsible,’ adding: “He may wish to reflect on this and reconsider his position.”

Cllr Doughty said he supported following government advice and social distancing but wondered if York Labour wanted all York roads with pavements narrower than 2m closed, preventing people getting about and grinding the city to a halt. “If not, what is so different about that area?”