York economic review published

A report which looks at how the York economy has fared since the pandemic started has been published today. It looks mainly at the City centre although it markedly fails to reveal traffic levels on, and within, the inner ring road.

Instead it highlights trends on major trunk routes. Generally, these reveal that traffic levels have risen to about 90% of the levels seen in February (which itself is normally the quietest month of the year in the City)

Car park occupancy levels are very high. Castle, Marygate, Bootham Bar and the Esplanade have reached record high levels.

This bears out the conclusion in the report that visitors from outside the City have been coming in large numbers and they mostly drive to City centre car parks.

Park and Ride numbers have slumped  along with public transport passengers more generally. Both are down to 30% of the numbers seen in February. Clearly COVID fears account for this change in transport preferences.

The figures provided also don’t provide any information on the numbers using two wheeled transport. Given the clamour for more cycle lanes, that is surprising. Elsewhere in the country the numbers cycling are up slightly (but not when it is raining!).

There may be a lack of data available to the Council on transport patterns.

They admit that only 2 of the “footfall” cameras are currently working and that a replacement system has yet to be implemented.  The available data suggests that footfall is around 20% down on the equivalent period last year.  The report claims though that spend per head is comparable to last summer.

The numbers claiming out of work benefits has trebled. It may get worse when the “furlough” scheme comes to an end. More stats can be viewed by clicking here

The Council says that it is setting up a “board “ to supervise training initiatives which will counter increasing unemployment.

It is right to focus on education as this will pave the future for the City. It is, however, unlikely that a 20 member committee will be sufficiently agile to make much difference.

The Council approach is likely to be criticised for overly focusing on the City centre. Out of town shopping destinations like those along the ring road don’t get a mention and even local centres at Bishopthorpe Road, Front Street and Haxby merit only a passing review. No footfall figures are provided nor are empty commercial priority trends analysed.  In the case of Front Street a promised economic review by a consultant was shelved during the lockdown.

Front Street lies in the Westfield Ward which has the highest unemployment rate in the City

10% of retail units in the City are now empty.

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