A report has been published which confirms that £385,000 of Coppergate fines will be repaid before 31st March 2016. The applications deadline for seeking Lendal Bridge refunds is also being extended to the same date.
The report pointedly fails to indicate the costs that will be incurred in writing to all the drivers who were illegally fined between August 2013 and April 2014.
Nor is any information provided indicting how much has been claimed back by drivers who were illegally fined for using Lendal Bridge.
In total, though, over £2 million is involved.
The Council now needs to publish an up to date statement detailing all of the costs of this disastrous transport initiative.
The Council has now accepted that the signage used to indicate a change of access hours (an hour was added to the restrictions at the beginning and end of each day) was inadequate. The restrictions were later successfully challenged through the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
12,269 drivers are thought to be entitled to a refund. Many were visitors to the City.
Council officials are not suggesting that the restriction order be revoked. Rather they suggest that better signage be installed following consultation with the Department of Transport.
It is anticipated that the original restriction hours will be re-introduced (although the officer report is silent on this point)
The elephant in the room remains the future use of “spy cameras”. The use of ANPR surveillance systems have been on the increase in recent years but the badly handled Lendal Bridge trial seriously damaged their credibility in the eyes of many York residents.
In our view, the Council should abandon their use, in enforcing traffic restriction orders, unless there is a clear and specific safety issue that could only be addressed by the use of cameras.
Instead a uniformed Police officer could from time to time check that drivers were observing any restrictions of Coppergate.
If one or two drivers – whether by mistake or design – slip though the road during the day then that is something that the City will have to live with.
The Council will also have to decide whether to revive the idea of a public inquiry into the shambolic initiative.
In the past Councillors who acted recklessly with public money could be forced to pay compensation to taxpayers. Those concerned – most of whom lost their seats in May – may well be beginning to wish that they had heeded the warnings issued by officials before the trials started and many aggrieved residents who – in the first 6 weeks – had pointed out the obvious failings in the project.