This week at planning committee, York's Conservative Councillors took a stand for motorists by opposing plans to limit traffic through Leeman Road tunnel to a one-way traffic light system. If implemented, these plans have the potential to cause chaos for residents in Holgate as well as lead to gridlock along Station Road.
This move follows a series of decisions by the Lib Dem - Green administration at City of York Council that have been taken with no consultation and only resulted in further frustration for drivers in York. First they implemented an unpopular one-way system on Bishopthorpe Road , then they closed to Groves to through traffic worsening tailbacks along Bootham and Lord Mayor's Walk, and now they want to severely restrict one of the major routes into the city centre. They claim it is for environmental reasons but so far it has only led to increased emmisions through longer diversions and vehicle idling.
Cllr Paul Doughty registered to speak at the planning committee to raise these concerns, which he insisted shouldn't be allowed to mire a project with as much potential for our city as the York Central development. At the meeting he said:
York Central is set to be, almost certainly, the biggest regeneration programme that we will see in York in most of our lifetimes. It’s exciting in terms of job creation, provision of homes and business opportunities. There is much to support in the overall scheme, however, I have raised doubts about aspects in the past and I stand by what I have said previously that the proposed plan in front of us today for Marble Arch and the Leeman Road Tunnel is foolhardy.
The plan to make this one way to traffic at any one time with traffic light signalling is set to be the new ‘Lendal Bridge fiasco’. Except this time it will be worse as there will be no going back from such a huge multi-million pound scheme. The proposals will distort journeys by people being forced into taking needless lengthier diversions and leave citizens and visitors sat in congestion, with those going through the Leeman Road tunnel facing guaranteed slower journeys. It will also add congestion to Holgate and Bootham as acknowledged - and to the Station Rise / Lendal gyratory. All adding to pollution. It is bad for residents on Leeman Road, bad for people in Acomb and beyond in Poppleton, bad for people in Clifton, Rawcliffe and villagers including myself who live north of the A1237. It will discourage people from visiting the city centre when shoppers and visitors are now more vitally needed than ever.
Cllr Martin Rowley, who was the Conservative Party representative on the planning committee and ultimately voted against the proposal, commented after the five and a half hour long meeting:
While Lib Dem - Greens will hide behind the excuse that these plans were provisionally approved as part of the outline for the wider project in 2019, it is never too late to change and improve upon decisions until there are boots on the ground and shovels at the ready. What we are seeing is another example of the Lib Dems - Greens administration blinkered approach to running the council pushing ahead with their own disastrous agenda without consulting residents or businesses in York.
This is clear by how they have completely disregarded concerns from Royal Mail who currently have almost 500 in and out vehicle movements at their facility on a typical working day with a significant number of these movements arriving and departing via the Leeman Road Tunnel. The impact on this traffic will have a severe impact on their business but the Lib Dems seemingly do not want to address this matter.
The York Conservatives want to see improvements across the city for not only motorists but cyclists and pedestrians. In this instance, we believe there should be 24 hour pedestrian and cyclist access for Leeman Road residents through the new Railway Museum development rather than forcing them to double their journey under the new proposals. This is the least they should expect as the residents who will suffer most from the unavoidable years of construction disruption.