York Green Party

Greens slam Council's 'pre-election bribe' parking scheme

30 April 2014

Green councillor Andy D'Agorne has slammed the Council's new city centre free parking plans, saying they are at odds with York's transport policies and could lead to greater peak time congestion and air pollution. The plan has been "called-in" by Green and Liberal Democrat Councillors for further scrutiny.

The Council has diverted funds raised from the Monks Cross expansion to offer free parking three days a week from 8am to 11am. It is widely seen as an attempt to win back favour following the problematic implementation of the Lendal Bridge trial closure.

The announcement comes days after Labour Council Leader James Alexander proposed to start a cross-party commission on transport, yet this move was not discussed before its announcement.

Councillor Andy D'Agorne said "Whilst I welcome the council working with city centre businesses to try to ameliorate the impact of the estimated £50m spending that will be sucked out to the new Monks Cross stores, there are some fundamental flaws with this plan."

Among Cllr D'Agorne's concerns are:

  • Providing free parking from 8am makes no sense when most shops don't open until 9am.
  • The plans will further exacerbate the morning rush hour - the city's roads are already clogged with commuters at precisely the times proposed.
  • The knock-on congestion and queuing for St George's Field and Nunnery Lane car parks will hit bus reliability - the opposite of what Council transport policy is trying to acheive.
  • The scheme could hit total council parking income far more than has been anticipated, as residents shift from other times of day and other car parks to make use of the free parking
  • Already-stretched businesses are now effectively being encouraged to open earlier - damaging the Council's ongoing attempts to improve the city's evening economy.
  • The £2.6m of transport funding raised from the Monks Cross scheme was described by highways officers as 'falling significantly short of the required level' to mitigate the local transport impacts. Yet £300,000 of this is now being diverted away - with no consultation with local residents.

Cllr D'Agorne has demanded that Labour make public the evidence behind their plan. He said "There's no detailed consideration of these points, no evidence from any market research - is it just based on a finger-in-the-air guess from a few boys who got together in a city centre bar?"

"It seems that other options have either not been considered, or rejected in an attempt to placate the Lendal Bridge hue and cry through a 'motorist friendly' pre election bribe."

Andy's fellow Green Councillor Dave Taylor accused Labour of acting like headless chickens:

"Firstly they back a massive expansion of out-of-town retail, against all national, regional, and local policy. This was predicted to cripple the city centre economy with losses of £50 million per year by the Council's own retail consultants as trade moves to the ring road. Then they botch their own plan to reduce congestion and air pollution in the city centre so badly that the trial is abandoned without even presenting the evidence of its success or failure.  Finally, in a complete reversal, they invite more cars to pollute the city centre with free parking, with the lost car-parking revenue paid for by the developers of the out-of-town retail park.  Such mixed-up thinking brings the word "chickens" and "headless" to mind."


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