Drivers flouting traffic rules on York’s Lendal Bridge are not currently being fined while a legal wrangle takes place council chiefs confirmed - but they are being filmed in case penalties are handed out later.
A driver has successfully challenged York Council’s right to issue fines for using Lendal Bridge at certain times of the day. Restrictions have been in place since last August which means the bridge is closed to cars between 10.30am and 5pm every day with drivers using the crossing given a £60 fine.
However last week the local authority said that having taken legal advice it was “confident” the controversial trial closure of the bridge was within the law.
Darren Richardson, director of city and environmental services at York Council, said: “Following supportive legal advice on the trial, restrictions will remain in place and recordings will be taken of any breaches of the restrictions along both Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.
“Fines will not be issued upon these recordings until further legal process. Drivers are urged to continue to adhere to the restrictions in place.”
Nigel Rhodes, who received a fine while working as a volunteer driver for the York Wheels charity, challenged his fine and his objection has been upheld by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
Adjudicator Stephen Knapp said the restrictions were not clear enough to drivers because of the type of signs used. He questioned the location of the enforcement cameras and suggested the appeal process was a “lottery.”
But at the end of last week York Council issued a statement which said after seeking legal advice it was “confident” it was operating within the law.
Kersten England, the council’s chief executive said at the time: “Having received independent legal advice from a leading legal expert in this field we are confident we are operating both Lendal Bridge and Coppergate schemes within the law.
“We also take assurances from Oxford, who contested with a similar appeal with the Traffic Penalty Tribunal and successfully won.”
The council says the legal advice will provide: “the basis for any legal action that the council may take in relation to Lendal Bridge.”
York Council insists the restrictions are needed to reduce congestion in the city centre and encourage more people to use buses by make services more reliable.
But the scheme has proved hugely controversial with critics questioning the thousands of pounds raised by the authority in fines.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Coun Keith Aspden, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, has called for the cameras to be switched off following the ruling and claimed it was “untenable” to continue with the closure.
Mr Richardson added: ““During the trial 95 per cent of drivers have adhered to the restrictions in place on Lendal bridge and the number of vehicles breaching the restriction had reached a peak and started to decline. We’ve always said the trial was not to generate revenue, but to reduce traffic going over the bridge and through the city centre, as part of a long-term vision to create an even more attractive and thriving city centre for everyone.”