MOTORISTS FACE a lengthy appeal process to claim back money owed relating to the trial closure of a road bridge in York after councillors refused to automatically refund those who were hit for a second time.
York Council has been criticised for rejecting a fresh plea to the estimated 50,000 people who were wrongly fined for crossing Lendal Bridge when it was shut unlawfully.
Opposition councillors from the Liberal Democrats ‘called-in’ the issue and ordered a review into the initial decision not to provide automatic refunds following last month’s announcement that the local authority was to drop its appeal against a Government Traffic Adjudicator ruling over the bridge’s temporary closure.
They also called for the council to issue formal apologies with each refund to mitigate “reputational damage”.
But at a meeting yesterday, Labour councillors on the cross-party corporate and scrutiny management committee voted down Lib Dem proposals and back the original decision by 5 votes to 4.
Coun Ann Reid, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Transport, said: “We believe very strongly that all the fines levied during the botched trail should be repaid without the onus being on the motorist to apply for a refund. “The majority of them don’t live in York and, indeed, a significant minority would have been foreign visitors. The council has all the names and addresses of those people who were issued with a fine and therefore should write to all of them.
“Now that the appeal to the Traffic Adjudicator has been dropped it must follow that the Labour group has accepted his decision.
“He said that the method of enforcement was illegal and if there is no longer a challenge to this ruling, common sense says that all the fines must be repaid. If his ruling is accepted, however unwillingly, then there can be no justification for keeping any of the fine money. Labour can’t have it both ways. A so-called “goodwill gesture” is not enough.”
Leaders of York Council have said those who contacted them for their money back would receive a full refund.