Council transport chief speaks out on ring road dualling plan after his party said it 'should be scrapped'

THE city council’s executive member for transport has welcomed the York outer ring road dualling plans as “an excellent opportunity to integrate sustainable travel infrastructure into this significant barrier to cycling.” It comes after the York Green Party, which he represents, claimed the current proposal “should be scrapped.” As reported by The Press yesterday (Saturday), York Green Party has submitted its response to the consultation on the plans, and says investment in sustainable transport, rather than widening of the outer ring road, is needed.

A statement from the party said: “We say that it cannot be justified. “York City Council has declared a climate emergency with the need to be carbon neutral by 2030. The York Green Party is arguing that the current proposal will simply lead to more traffic and greater emissions.

“In addition to that the time savings are tiny for the GBP38 million that it would cost, and the money would be far better spent on improving the provision for cycling and walking.” The statement added that dualling “will, inevitably, lead to more traffic coming into the centre of York and there is no provision to prevent this.” Tom Franklin, chair of York Green Party, commented: “The current proposal goes completely against the council’s own policy of becoming carbon neutral and therefore should be scrapped.

“The money should instead be used to reduce dependence on cars in York.” Now City of York Council’s executive member for transport, Cllr Andy D’Agorne, who represents the Fishergate ward for the Green Party and is Green group leader on the council, has shared his views on the plans following the party’s statement. He said: “Residents and businesses have been calling for upgrades and dualling of the York Outer Ring Road for many years and we recognise the impact that congestion has on all users.

“These proposals (which the council has been developing over several years) give us an excellent opportunity to integrate sustainable travel infrastructure into this significant barrier to cycling. “It could also help to reduce the number of car journeys currently taking routes through the city centre, allowing us to create a better environment within the ring road for people to walk and cycle. “By creating safe walking and cycling routes alongside and across the ring road, we will be able to provide more sustainable transport options for residents of the outer villages as well as options for those within the ring road to cycle out into the surrounding countryside.”

He said he is “committed to a joint approach” as part of the Lib Dem/Green administration to taking this project forward. He added: “The Lib Dem/Green administration is committed to securing transport funding such as these funds from Department for Transport and West Yorkshire Combined Authority for dualling this section of the ring road and the Active Travel Funding recently announced for cycling. “We will also be engaging with residents and businesses when we review our overall Local Transport Plan in the coming year, giving us the opportunity to deliver on carbon reduction commitments as well as respond to new travel demands envisaged by the draft Local Plan.”

The current consultation on the design proposals for the Outer Ring Road runs until tomorrow (Monday). Under the plans the single carriageway would be dualled in both directors between the A19 at Shipton Road to the A1036 at Little Hopgrove. Five roundabouts – at Clifton Moor, Wigginton Road, Haxby Road, Strensall Road and Monks Cross – will be enlarged.

City of York Council’s Liberal Democrat Group has sent a response to the statement from York Green Party. Cllr Stephen Fenton said: “The Liberal Democrats have lobbied extensively for years to secure Government funding to dual and upgrade the York Outer Ring Road and I know local residents and businesses will be pleased to see the scheme progress. “The funding commitment of GBP38 million by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, GBP25 million from the Department for Transport, along with additional contributions of GBP8.6 million (which includes the council’s own contribution of GBP3.6 million) has enabled us to progress the scheme, as we continue to make the case to the Government for additional funding in order to accelerate the delivery of this crucial scheme.

“Dualling the outer ring road is crucial to improving the daily lives of many residents and businesses, not just in York, but across the region.” Cllr Fenton also said that upgrading the ring road provides an opportunity to reduce congestion and journey times on one of our busiest roads. “This will help to redistribute traffic in and around the city and see car journeys move out of the city centre, aiding our continued work to improve air quality across York and invest in the transport modal shift that is needed to achieve our ambitious goals of addressing the climate emergency,” he said.

“This vital upgrade will not only provide a new and efficient route for drivers but will also gives us a great opportunity to integrate sustainable travel infrastructure into a significant part of the city’s road network, with the development of over 6km of new shared footpaths and cycleway network – helping the city become a cleaner and greener place to live.

“Creating safe walking and cycling routes alongside and across the ring road will help to make possible more sustainable transport options for residents of the outer villages and reduce severance impact of the ring road.”