Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.
The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)
The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people
It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism”
Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.
If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).
The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.
The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.
In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:
• continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services
• creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)
• extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours
• supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride
*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.
Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.
City centre future
The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exercise on the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.
Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.
If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.
This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.
The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.
The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street