City of York Council will be publishing a Local Transport Strategy for public consultation in February 2023. Work started in early 2021 but slippages and waiting for Department of Transport advice (to be published in early 2023) have delayed the work. The strategy will lead to hopefully a new Local Transport Plan for consultation in late 2023 and publication in 2024. The Civic Trust like a number of other organisations are concerned that this timetable, almost half the time between calling a climate emergency in 2019 and the deadline for implementation in 2030 will have passed without any coordinated action on transport. If that happens, there is no chance of achieving the targeted 71% reduction by 2030.
No other local authority which we have approached has felt the need to delay action until government guidance is finalised. Five case studies of similar UK cities – Bath, Cambridge, Chester, Norwich and Oxford – have already produced new or updated Local Transport Plans. Cambridge and Oxford, in particular, are already implementing new strategies to reduce carbon emissions significantly. Cambridge’s includes a package of substantial improvements to bus services, more space for walking and cycling, and pricing measures designed to reduce through traffic and generate finance.
Closer to home, West Yorkshire Combined Authority published a new Local Transport Plan in 2017, East Riding in 2021 and North Yorkshire in 2016. York stands alone in the region in not having a refreshed Local Transport Plan.
The devolution deal announced in August 2022 would see an elected mayor taking responsibility for transport planning throughout York and North Yorkshire in 2024. The government will want to see a provisional Local Transport Plan for the whole area by March 2024. York’s needs are very different from those of largely rural North Yorkshire and without a plan its needs will be eclipsed by the more fully articulated priorities for North Yorkshire. Consultation on a balanced joint approach needs to start soon if York is to gain the funding that it deserves.
Whilst fully realising that Council colleagues have exceedingly busy workloads in our opinion it should be possible to produce the outline Local Transport Strategy. In February 2022 we published our recommendations for the Council in our Transport Strategy for York. In that document we set out a possible vision for the city, nine possible objectives for transport, and six key, inter-connected, elements of a strategy. We also suggested how that strategy might be implemented, and the types of measure that might be used in the short term and over the next 15 years. We offered these as a basis for discussion, and public reaction has been predominantly positive. The Council should be able to draw on our proposals in developing its Local Transport Plan, which needs to be in draft early in 2023.