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York residents split over congestion charging

7,300 people respond to council's public consultation on how to deal with gridlock...

Residents of York are divided on the issue of whether the city should implement a congestion charging scheme as the local council considers how to deal with its traffic clogged streets.

Some 7,300 people responded to a public consultation undertaken by York City Council, with nearly two in five (39%) saying that they would prefer congestion to be tackled without such a scheme being put in place, while nearly three in ten (28%) said that they would back such a move if that freed up funds for alternative transport projects.

One in five (20%) said that they would support initiatives aimed at improving the flow of traffic in the city, while around one in eight (13%) were in favour of addressing the issue of people using their cars to commute through the city centre, both options that could entail an element of road charging, according to the York Press.

Among respondents who owned bikes but did not use them to travel around the city, the biggest barriers to doing so were said to be concerns about safety, age or poor health, having to carry bags or other equipment, and the weather.

The newspaper reported that the most favoured options for combating congestion were improving local bus services, at 69%, and building an edge-of-town freight depot to help limit the number of delivery lorries travelling into the city centre.

However, local businesses gave the idea of congestion charging a resounding thumbs-down, with only 12% expressing support for it.

The city council’s cross-party congestion scrutiny committee is due to sit next week to discuss the results of the consultation, and Councillor Steve Galloway, executive member for city strategy, said: “While I welcome some of the background information provided by the survey, it is unfortunate the options tabled by the committee for addressing congestion relied so heavily on charging for access.”

“I am not surprised the only option which did not involve charging was favoured by the majority of respondents. This reflects the view revealed by our private surveys and petitions, while supporting the decision taken by the council not to support the introduction of a local road-pricing system.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Dave Merrett, chairman of the city council’s scrutiny committee, commented: “The results are very interesting with some important messages.

“The largest single group of respondents favour a no-charging solution in terms of funding higher transport investment, but the three options involving charging actually received more support.”

He added that the “logical next step” was to draft a long-term plan that would build upon the results of the consultation, including how to make bus travel more attractive.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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