Private cars are to be banned from York’s medieval city centre by 2023, under plans approved by councillors.
The City of York Council wants an end to “non-essential” car journeys within the city walls.
The authority, which is run by the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, wants to make the city carbon neutral by 2030 – 20 years ahead of the UK government’s net zero target.
It said those who rely on cars, such as disabled residents, would be exempt.
The idea was proposed by Labour councillor Johnny Crawshaw but received support from a majority of councillors, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
‘Public mood is changing’
“People’s first response might be to be a bit anxious about what we’re proposing,” Mr Crawshaw said.
“That doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. The public mood is changing, particularly in relation to climate change.”
York is not the first UK city to consider some form of ban on cars – Bristol recently approved plans to bar diesel cars from entering parts of the city centre.
Mr Crashaw said it was not about preventing visitors and residents from accessing the city centre, but to do with improving air quality and cutting congestion.
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Reducing the number of cars in the city centre would mean faster and more reliable public transport from the suburbs and villages and would make cycling safer, he said.
Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Fenton said he supported the plan, but said restricting car journeys would have significant implications.
“We need to understand the reasons for journeys into, within and around the city, to what extent they are classed as essential and where are the gaps we need to fill to make this a reality,” he said.
The decision has prompted conversation on social media, with some praising the council’s decision.
Writing on Twitter, James Gleave said: “York is one of my favourite cities in the UK. Banning cars in the city centre is long overdue, and congratulations to @CityofYork for pushing for this.”
Not everyone was convinced though. Alfie Thomlinson tweeted: “What York needs is new infrastructure. To ‘Ban Cars’ is a cop out,” and Grouchy Old Man tweeted: “Glad I don’t own a shop, bar, hotel, or eating house in York.”
The council’s executive member for transport will be required to develop a plan, subject to consultation, to implement the scheme.