Following a council motion in December pledging to restrict non-essential car use in York’s city centre by 2023 the city has had national and international coverage.
This follows an increasing trend, with Oslo and Ghent pledging to follow the example of cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Cambridge removing through traffic
and extending pedestrian priority. Green Councillor Andy D’Agorne who is Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Member for Transport said “This cross-party commitment in York is what is needed to give confidence to bus operators and ‘last mile’ delivery companies.
“It is also a strong steer that we can create healthy streets while still maintaining essential vehicle access for deliveries, services and those with mobility needs.”
Consultation with residents, businesses and organisations via the new Local Transport Plan (see page 5) will help to identify the most effective way to prevent through traffic while maintaining essential access.
All options will be up for discussion later in 2020 – whether new or improved bus routes, freight transshipment, electric cars, residents parking zones, strategic cycle route
improvements or other ideas.
Another idea that could be considered is a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL). A WPL scheme is a charge on employers who provide workplace parking that has been introduced in Nottingham.
It is designed to encourage employers to promote public transport rather than providing parking for employees. Money raised from these schemes is then used to subsidise public transport.
Councillor D’Agorne adds, “regardless of the scheme chosen, road traffic contributes over a third of our carbon emissions. “Cutting car use has to be a key element of plans to reach zero carbon by 2030.
I’ve worked on climate change for 20 years as an officer at local authorities, managing Climate South East and currently as Climate Lead for the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
During this time I had the opportunity to work on ground breaking and innovative sustainability and climate change initiatives at an organisational and community level as well as shaping several climate-related policies and strategies.
Climate change was high on the agenda until 2009 and councils worked collaboratively and measured their emissions methodically. Public perception of climate change was as high then as it is now and Lewes District Council (where I worked then) was fully engaged with local communities in many ways.
And yet, all of this was wiped away in the recession and the great ‘Bonfire of the Sustainability Officers’ that took place as councils facing increasing financial pressures whittled their climate change resources to the bone. As both a casualty of this time and as a survivor working in another council this was an increasingly frustrating time as the years of embedding sustainability practices were (ironically) wiped out overnight. It dawned on me (belatedly) that national and local politics were fundamental in shaping the local climate discourse and my decision to stand as a local councillor coincided with a renewed understanding nationally that more urgency was needed in addressing climate change.
What was previously a ‘Climate Crisis’ became a ‘climate emergency’ and was given new impetus with the UN Special report by the Independent Panel on Climate Change in December 2018 stating that temperatures would likely exceed 1.5 degrees C between 2030 and 2052 at current levels of CO2 with devasting impacts on humanity and nature.
This resulted in a number of councils declaring (with different timelines) climate emergencies.
“I was elected as a Green councillor in May 2019, joining the cabinet when – as an alliance between the Green Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – we took control of Lewes District Council. The first motion I brought forward was to declare Climate Emergency committing the council to reducing its emissions to Net Zero and being fully climate resilient by 2030.”