As part of the City of York Council’s budget process, plans have been announced to invest in measures to make it easier for residents to get around the city sustainably. Under the leadership of the Lib Dem-Green partnership, these spending plans are in line with one of the key priorities laid out in the Council Plan: initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
The Council’s Transport portfolio, led by Executive Member and Green Party councillor Andy D’Agorne, will be allocated £265,000 to improve the electric car charging point network in the city and £200,000 of funding to refresh York’s Transport Plan. The Transport Plan update will involve local residents and businesses in shaping policy that will cut congestion and enhance green travel in York.
Another of the central planks of the Council’s proposed financial strategy is a programme for a Greener and Cleaner City. This will include funding of over £1 million to create a new waste and street environment service, with a neighbourhood focus to support local communities. The budget includes £50,000 towards developing further tree planting schemes in the city as part of a new commitment to the “Northern Forest”: a plan to plant an additional 50 million trees across the North of England, along with £600,000 per annum for 4 years in the capital budget.
The Council’s Financial Strategy Report noted that “There is a growing imperative for all councils to respond to the climate emergency and look for opportunities to develop the circular low carbon economy as part of their action to deliver council priorities”. In keeping with this imperative, the Environment and Climate Change portfolio includes £500,000 growth, with a further £500,000 allocated for investment in front line services in 2021/22.
Crucially the budget also includes an £150,000 investment in creating a Climate Change Delivery Programme which will develop a strategic approach throughout the authority to reducing the city’s carbon emissions, establishing annual carbon budgets, developing policies, launching a major public consultation and building partnerships with residents, organisations and businesses.
Green Party Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Member for Transport, Andy D’Agorne said: “our budget is intended to deliver action on the climate emergency with measurable year-on-year carbon emission reductions. Because the UK has failed to act with enough urgency over the past two decades, the IPCC warnings leave us with the need to secure 13% year-on-year cuts to emissions, with about one third of these coming from transport emissions.
“In looking at that challenge, Friends of the Earth has indicated that York has the potential to triple our levels of cycling (including e-bikes) by 2030 and this alongside our policy of aiming for a car-free city centre has to underpin our refreshed Local Transport Plan, for which we are setting aside £200,000 in this budget and the same for 2021/22 to deliver this strategy.”
Councillor D’Agorne added: “this authority will be pushing forward clean air and traffic reduction measures, rolling out residents’ parking to protect our residential streets from commuters taking the cheapest option, but also enhancing facilities for walking and cycling and bus travel. So yes, we propose a small increase in car parking charges (but not residents’ parking charges). However, we will shortly have an all-electric or low emission park and ride service, a public park replacing a 1960’s standard car park next to one of our most iconic landmarks at Clifford’s Tower, and a wide consultation with residents and businesses about how to achieve a largely car free city centre by 2023.”