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York set to become UK's first car-free city centre

Sky News logo Sky News 01/01/2020

York is on track to have the UK's first car-free city centre after the council backed plans to ban private vehicles.

In a drive to cut harmful pollutants, the authority is seeking to end all "non-essential" car journeys inside its historic city walls within three years.

The city, which boasts the world-renowned York Minister, is a tourism hotspot and often faces gridlock, particularly during the peak summer months.

a large building: Elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars would be exempt © Other Elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars would be exempt

However, many parts of York's ancient heart are already pedestrianised.

Bristol has previously announced plans to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars by next year.

High-polluting vehicles entering central London already face an extra £10 levy on top of the £11.50 congestion charge.

York's blanket ban was proposed by Labour councillor Jonny Crawshaw and it was backed by a majority of the city council, run by a Liberal Democrat-Green coalition.

a group of people walking on a city street: Many parts of York's ancient heart are already pedestrianised © Other Many parts of York's ancient heart are already pedestrianised

"People's first response might be to be a bit anxious about what we're proposing," Mr Crawshaw told The York Press.

"But that doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.

"The public mood is changing - particularly in relation to climate change."

Plans will now be drawn up on how to enforce the ban, which will be subject to another vote before being introduced.

Under the proposals, elderly and disabled residents who rely on their cars will be exempt.

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