Whitby to get congestion charge

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to introduce a London-style congestion zone to Whitby and its historic swing bridge has been given the green light by ministers.

Minister for suspension, swing, transporter and rope bridges Joe King said: “The large volume of traffic entering Whitby and crossing the swing bridge has meant that for a long time we have been looking at a congestion charge, allowing tourists to travel through the town quicker on their way to more fashionable resorts such as Scarborough or Saltburn.

“Some of these people want to say they’ve visited Whitby but really can’t be bothered to stop and walk around, so we’re hoping it will free up parking spaces as well.”

The scheme will see CCTV cameras all over town, including at either end of the bridge that will automatically charge anyone a standard £5 fee.

Willow Oakes, chairman of Whitby Transport Force (WTF), said: “We at Whitby Transport Force have for a long time insisted that more traffic for Whitby is a good thing.

“The more people travel through the town and cause congestion, the slower people are forced to travel.

“The benefits of this are multiple as slower traffic means people have more time to look around at the view.

“They consider themselves to have had a day out in Whitby even if they haven’t got out of their car.

“It also alleviates the obvious safety concern in that a car stuck in traffic isn’t going to collide with anybody crossing the road and traffic jams are known to reduce accidents by 80%”

The congestion charge will be trialled between 1 April and 1 May this year, with ministers claiming that this will allow them to better gauge resident’s support, before the busy holiday season.

Local campaigner Beattie Spencer said: “It’s about time we got these tourists through Whitby and out the other side as quickly as possible.”

Money raised from the congestion charge is to be used to update Whitby’s line fishing and crabbing facilities at Kiddies’ Corner, with a £5million development planned.

At present local children are currently required to sit outside in all weathers while partaking in this popular pastime.

A glass dome will feature a state-of-the-art hole in the floor to allow fishing lines to be dropped into the water.

London’s congestion charge has been hailed a huge success with traffic reduced by 30% and approximately £50m extra contributed to the local economy.

Mr King added: “We are confident a similar amount will be raised in Whitby, it may be the case that in future Whitby may be more famous for its congestion charge than for fish and chips, the Abbey, or Dracula.”

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