York council leader survives resignation calls over Lendal Bridge traffic trial

The leader of York Council and another senior councillor have survived calls for them to step down following controversy over a trial scheme in York restricting drivers using Lendal Bridge.

In a motion, opposition councillors called for York Council’s leader, Coun James Alexander, and Coun Dave Merret, the councillor at the centre of the row 
over charges, to resign over the issue. But at a meeting of full council members of the Labour majority voted down the motion proposed by Liberal Democrat councillors.

The authority has said the trial aimed to tackle the city’s congestion problems. But it faced criticism over the scheme to penalise private drivers using the bridge between 10.30am and 5pm with a £60 fine, which intensified after a motorist successfully challenged his penalty notice in a move which suggested the council might not have the power to issue fines.

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The resignation calls were part of a Liberal Democrat motion also calling for fined motorists to be repaid automatically 
without having to apply for a refund. So far the Labour Group has said only people who 
apply for a refund will be reimbursed.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “The innocent motorists should be automatically repaid.”

Coun Alexander, speaking earlier, said: “Labour tried some bold action to tackle congestion; it was controversial and unpopular and we have listened. What is important is we now try to work together to tackle congestion which is an issue that will not go away.”

A Labour group spokesman accused opposition councillors of “political point scoring”.