Traffic congestion in Gillygate
Traffic congestion in Gillygate

At the recent full meeting of City of York Council, Labour Micklegate Councillor Jonny Crawshaw proposed, and saw passed, a motion designed to reduce the amount of traffic within York’s city walls and in the immediately surrounding area. The motion was in response to the previously agreed on cross-party motion declaring a climate emergency, and setting a target for the city to become carbon-neutral by 2030.

Cllr Crawshaw said that in putting forward the motion: “What I was trying to do was have a serious discussion about the way we get around the city, and what I was trying to achieve was better, more reliable, more accessible and more sustainable transport options, which reduce car dependency and enable those who really, genuinely depend on private motor vehicles to have better access to the city centre.”

Although painted by some as an attempt to ban all cars from the city centre, Cllr Crawshaw was quick to point out that this was not the case: “This is about reducing and removing non-essential car journeys across the whole city,” he said, “whilst improving the range and attractiveness of alternative travel options.

Guildhall councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick, whose ward covers the city centre, said the proposal to develop a plan to reduce congestion and improve air quality in the city centre was very much needed, but explained that residents must be a priority.

She said: “Residents in many parts of Guildhall ward have already expressed what positive change restricted city centre access could deliver, and I’m really encouraged by that. But they are clear, as am I, that restrictions should not impact their ability to get to and from their homes. Many residents are fed up with congestion around where they live, with some streets still being used as rat-runs, so I think they will welcome the restrictions.”

Cllr Fitpatrick also welcomed the findings of a city-wide survey conducted for the Civic Trust which found that over three quarters of almost 1,400 participants cited the impact of transport on air pollution and climate change as serious. The survey saw popular support for a vehicle-free zone or more effective traffic management.

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