MULTI-MILLION pound plans for three new Park&Ride sites in York have been endorsed by ruling councillors.

City of York Council's executive approved proposals for the first phase of Access York, and a bid for £26.2 million of improvements will be submitted to the Regional Transport Board tomorrow.

As previously reported in The Press, the plans could see Park&Ride facilities built on Wigginton Road at Clifton Moor and at the A59 near Poppleton, and a relocated and enlarged site at Askham Bar.

The developments could increase York's Park&Ride capacity by 2,500 spaces, and plans presented to councillors showed how commuters could travel to the city's outskirts by car or tram train, before taking the bus into the city centre.

Although bidding is sought for all three sites, the plans have been submitted as three distinct schemes to maximise the city's chances of getting at least some funds.

At a meeting of the executive this week, the council's transport boss Coun Ann Reid said the bid was a "very strong" one that she hoped would win support.

She praised officers for breaking the bid down into separate parts, saying: "If we do not get all the funding, we can still get some of it."

But council leader Steve Galloway warned the fight for cash would be "highly competitive" with other authorities from the region also keen for a share.

He said: "Nobody should be in doubt about other areas bidding."

The council hopes the planned Park&Ride improvements could cut journey times by eight per cent on the inner ring road and five per cent on the outer ring road by 2011, with reductions also projected for Boroughbridge Road and Wigginton Road.

Phase Two of the Access York bid, which will be drawn up over the coming months for submission in autumn, will address issues of congestion on the outer ring road.

The council is bidding for between £25 million and £160 million in the second phase, which could include dualling some stretches of the road and carrying out junction improvements.

Coun Galloway warned: "That again will be in competition with other schemes, and there can be no guarantee at all that we will be successful."

Of the Park&Ride proposals he added: "This is not an all or nothing project. It could be partly funded or phased. I am fairly confident we will get something out of the process. As for the larger project, that game remains to be played."

He said he hoped the new Yorkshire Minister, Rosie Winterton, may be able to help get a better deal for the region.