Congestion charge ruled out in blueprint for city’s traffic

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TRANSPORT chiefs have allayed concerns that road tolls could be introduced in a blueprint to tackle traffic tailbacks in one of Yorkshire’s most congested cities over the next two decades.

The strategy, called the Local Transport Plan, to dramatically reduce the number of vehicles on York’s roads and combat air pollution has been drawn up over the last two-and-a-half years and is due to be approved next month.

Measures ranging from the expansion of a fleet of low emission buses to the introduction of another three sites for York’s hugely successful park and ride scheme are being considered.

York Council’s executive member for city strategy, Coun Steve Galloway, said: “This is a very important document, although we recognise funding is going to be limited over the next two or three years and we have to get best value from any investment we make.”

But Coun Galloway maintained that there are no plans to introduce congestion charging on the city’s roads, and added: “The present council is very much opposed to congestion charging. It would impact on the city’s key economic drivers in the tourism and retail sectors.

“If the Government does introduce a road pricing system across the country, then things could change. But as things stand, we do not want to be in competition with other cities with people perceiving York as somewhere that is more expensive to visit.”

Members of York Council are due to discuss the proposals for the city’s third Local Transport Plan at a full council meeting on April 7. If it is given the go-ahead, one of the key aims will be to boost transport links not only within the city itself but to other parts of the country as well.

Coun Galloway stressed that it is vital to ensure the city’s rail links are improved to ensure ease of access for visitors arriving from across the country and help boost York’s multi-million pound tourism industry.

Plans are currently on hold for three new park and ride sites, but a decision on £24m in Government funding is expected in the autumn. The existing but over-subscribed Askham Bar park and ride site would be replaced with a larger facility, and two new locations would be created on the A59 near Poppleton and on Wigginton Road at Clifton Moor