THE partial closure of York's 'Bishy Road' is to be scrapped after increases in traffic caused worsening congestion and rat-running through side streets.

Emergency traffic measures - comprising a southbound closure of Bishopthorpe Road near the parade of shops - were introduced earlier this year to keep pedestrians safe and socially distanced during the coronavirus pandemic.

City of York Council said today it had been constantly reviewing these measures to take into account changing national guidance and York’s local recovery.

"Whilst the restriction helped with meeting the objectives for social distancing, a gradual increase in traffic has caused a number of local issues, including increased congestion and unofficial diversions through side streets," said a spokesperson.

"This is likely to be made worse during the additional gas works planned at the junction of Blossom Street and Nunnery Lane, due later in August.

"Therefore, Bishopthorpe Road will now be fully open from August 4 - once the Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) ends - subject to the restrictions which were in place before temporary measures were implemented."

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport, thanked residents and businesses for providing their 'valuable feedback' on the temporary traffic measures in Bishopthorpe Road, which had been taken into account in this decision.

"Over the last few months, the coronavirus pandemic has created a situation unlike anything we’ve ever experienced but throughout the pandemic, we have seen York doing what it does best – residents and businesses rising to the challenge, pulling together and supporting each other.

“As the city is reopening and we are starting to get back to normal, we all have a role to play in supporting our city and local businesses. Now more than ever, as a resident or York business, we are urging people to shop local and buy local.

“As we talk about recovery, we do not ignore that coronavirus is still with us and our primary focus remains protecting the health of our residents as far as possible. We will continue to be guided by public health advice and if the situation changes locally, we will review the measures and may re-introduce them again in the future.”

Conservative councillors welcomed the abandonment of the closure - but Micklegate Labour councillors have hit out at the change.

Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Doughty said: “This was cynically used by the LibDem/Green coalition to restrict motorists - business, residents and visitors getting about.

"We warned that it was causing lengthy diversions down Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street and would have a negative effect on business, causing even more congestion on city roads for residents. This has proved to be the case but it wasn’t rocket science to predict this. Just what were they thinking?"

But Micklegate councillor Jonny Crawshaw said: “There was enormous potential with the reduction in vehicle journeys during the lockdown to take a step back and look at how we move around the city safely and healthily.

"Although the Bishopthorpe Road scheme was primarily about aiding social distancing, it’s removal coming at a time when health professionals and the Government are encouraging, and funding, more cycling and walking measures, is particularly disheartening."