YORK leaders were today pressing a Government minister on proposals to upgrade the city's outer ring road.

The bid came as the new Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber, Rosie Winterton, visited the city to launch the Government's £1.5 million free bus pass scheme for older and disabled people.

The scheme will mean those with bus passes entitling them to free travel in York will be able to use the same pass on public transport across the country.

Ms Winterton, in what is her first official engagement as the minister, will meet the Future York team which is seeking Government support for the city's planned bid for £160 million - money that could be used to dual parts of the city's congested A1237.

The Press has launched its own campaign Access York calling for Westminster's backing.

Ms Winterton will meet with York MP Hugh Bayley, Christopher Garnett, the Future York chairman, Coun Steve Galloway, the leader of City of York Council, Labour opposition leader David Scott, council chief executive Bill McCarthy and Bill Woolley, the council's director of city strategy.

Mr Bayley, who organised the Guildhall summit, said it would be a good opportunity to make the city's case to the Government.

He said: "Rosie Winterton, the new Minister for Yorkshire, has shown that the Government is taking the recommendations of the Future York group seriously by coming to York. Some of the recommendations the group made to the Government have already been implemented, but the council still wants help to upgrade the ring road.

"The Future York group also made recommendations for local action, such as increasing the supply of affordable family homes and training to close the skills gap, and the council are working on their part of the package."

Mr Bayley praised the Government's free bus pass scheme. "York has been chosen for the launch because it's had the biggest increase in bus usage in the country apart from London, thanks partly to Government subsidies.

"These new passes will ensure that pensioners from York will be able to get concessionary travel not only in York, but also in Leeds, or if they're on holiday anyway in the UK from Blackpool to Penzance.

"Lots of extra day tripper pensioners coming to our city will be able to use the buses - boosting tourism."

The MP chaired the committee that put the concessionary bus legislation through Parliament.