York & North Yorkshire

York Balloon Fiesta to return despite traffic problems

Image caption The annual Balloon Fiesta was first held in York in 2017

A balloon festival blamed for bringing traffic in York to a standstill is to return to the city.

Last year's York Balloon Fiesta attracted 40,000 visitors, but there were complaints of gridlock on roads and delays to buses.

Former Make it York director Steve Brown previously said festival bosses were uncertain about returning.

The event has since been confirmed for 2019, with a "better plan" to tackle traffic promised.

Crowds were treated to mass balloon launches each day, balloon night glow events and a firework display.

However, bus company First York said its services were delayed by an hour or more and that the event had "brought York centre to gridlock".

Cityzap, which runs services between the Yorkshire Coast, York and Leeds, said its services ran between 30 and 45 minutes late.

Balloon over York racecourse
Image caption Crowds flocked to the city's racecourse to watch the balloons being launched

At a council meeting in December, Mr Brown admitted the event had "brought the city to a standstill" and added that if it did return, organisers would work with the bus companies.

The former Conservative Council leader Ian Gillies told the same meeting the event had been a big success, but said the authority had to take some responsibility for the traffic issues.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, James Gilchrist, assistant director of transport for York, said there had been discussions with the organisers, Make it York and the police to see what "lessons" could be learned.

"We look forward to receiving the proposals for traffic management from the event organisers so that these can be considered," he said.

York Balloon Fiesta is due to take place between 27 and 29 September.

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