Congestion charge 'must happen', says York CTC man

Stick not carrot is needed to stop gridlock

by Tom Henry   February 13, 2010  

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A congestion charge needs to be implemented in York, a regional spokesman for the CTC has argued.

Paul Hepworth, the North Yorkshire spokesman for the CTC, says the city has made huge efforts to stave off gridlock by encouraging car-sharing, short-term car hire, Park&Ride services and installing priority measures for public transport.

He also says that a grant from Cycling England will enable the completion of York’s cycling network.

Mr Hepworth was speaking ahead of a huge public consultation exercise seeking residents’ views on a range of traffic issues – including congestion charging and a levy on workplace parking – by City of York Council.

“So we have led the way on a lot of things and even people who live in the suburbs are now leaving their cars in the garage and travelling into town by other means, which has made a big difference.

“But we still only have finite road space and, as we cannot build ourselves out of congestion, we have to find alternatives to car usage and encourage people to use them.

“Space needs to be freed up for essential road-users and, quite frankly, if there is not enough of a voluntary switch away from short-distance commuting, politicians may have to look at bringing in the stick rather than the carrot.

“There have been problems with polls on this issue in places like Manchester where people have voted with vested interests, but congestion charging can work and has to work. It’s happening in other cities, not just York.

"Not only would I welcome it, I believe it is inevitable that it will be introduced."

His views have been countered by Chris Gorman, a spokesman for the Forum of Private Business. He says if the charge goes ahead, it could have “a crippling effect on the many small businesses which give York so much of its character and tourist appeal.”

“Implemented individually, both a congestion charge and a workplace parking levy would prove highly detrimental to York’s business community. Enforced together, the results could be catastrophic and lead to an exodus of small firms from the city,” he added.

* For the full debate, see this article in the York Press.