Face mask Friday – but concern grows about Council knee jerk decisions

Face masks will have to be worn in shops from today. It remains to be seen how effective this government policy will be.

What is now clear is that some of the impulsive decisions taken a couple of months ago, at the peak of the pandemic by the York Council, have not met the test of time.

Tinkering with traffic systems without proper consultation or impact assessments was always a recipe for failure.

Crucially no attempt was made to define how success would be measured.

So how have they fared?

Bishopthore Road lane closure

This was intended to provide queuing space for shoppers. It was claimed that it would make social distancing easier.

Critics pointed to new hazards for cyclists on the contraflow lane, increased congestion & pollution on alternative routes and a missed opportunity to trial an off peak pedestrian area (10:30am – 4:00pm) approach.

The results have been disappointing with the alternative Nunnery Lane/Blossom Street/ Scarcroft Road suffering for increased congestion. Bus services have been adversely affected. There has been short cutting through residential areas like St Benedict Road where parking is also now a problem

There is little footpath queuing on the east of the shopping area. The forecourted shops on the other side have adequate space although bollards have reduced flexibility.

Verdict – scrap it

An ill considered scheme which missed the opportunity that part time pedestrianisation might have offered.

Fortunately there have been no accidents involving cyclists yet, although northbound traffic levels remain below average (as they do across the whole of the highway network)

Reduced social distancing requirements (now one metre rather than two) and the introduction of face masks should lead to this trial being abandoned. A more thorough consultation on the options for the Bishopthorpe Road area could then take place.

Bollards have not improved social distancing on Bishopthorpe Road
Problems with car parking and short cutting through the St Benedict’s Road area

Foss Bridge

One of the general traffic lanes across Foss Bridge on the inner ring road was repurposed for cyclists (southbound) . The lane had been coned off while maintenance work on the bridge was carried out in the early spring.

Most cyclists opt to use the riverside off road path. Comparatively few choose to use the inner ring road.

Verdict – retain and consult on its future

There has been little congestion on this section of the inner ring road although general travel patterns are not expected to return to pre COVID levels before September.

The cycle lane has been obstructed on occasions by delivery drivers, taxi pick ups etc. so the solution is less than perfect.

Vehicle numbers on this section of the inner ring road greatly exceed the number of cyclists

Monk Bar car park disabled spaces

The Council allocated 40 spaces at the Monk Bar car park for blue badge holders when additional access & parking restrictions were introduced in the City centre (e.g. Goodramgate). A “free” taxi service link to the rear of Kings Square is offered. The decision – like several others – was taken by the Councils acting chief executive with no prior consultation.

Blue badge holders can park on single yellow lines and park free of charge at Council car parks.

The little used taxi service is costing taxpayers £354 a day.

It appears that no attempt was made to assess the demand for disabled parking spaces at Monk Bar or for the taxi link. The Council didn’t specify the use of low emission vehicles on the taxi contract

Typically no more than five blue badge holders are parking at Monk Bar at any one time. The remaining general parking spaces are being increasingly used but the car park has yet to reach the full occupation levels seen before the pandemic. The Council has also recently allocated more on street parking spaces for blue badge holders in streets like Duncombe Place.

While the initiative was well intentioned, the Council hopelessly misjudged the demand for the service.

Verdict – revise the scheme

The number of reserved spaces can be reduced and the taxi link abandoned. Consultations can take place with disabled group representatives and traders on other options. These might include a “home to city centre” subsidised taxi service for the disabled where costs are recompensed when goods are bought.

Monk Bar blue badge spaces unused
Narrow access path at Monk Bar car park. No provision made for social distancing (see Maygate below)

Marygate car park

Around 40 parking spaces have been cordoned off. The Council claimed it was to allow cyclists to avoid joint use of the footpath (which links Scarborough Bridge to Bootham Terrace). In turn this helped to maintain a two metre social distancing zone.

The scheme was criticised when proposed because if failed to assess the effectiveness of the obvious alternative (encouraging cyclists to use the internal car park service road) which would have involved the loss of only one parking space.

There were bigger problems on other routes from Scarborough Bridge both at the north (Marygate) end of the bridge and crucially at the station itself. A narrow tunnel connects the shared cycle/footpath to Bootham Terrace.

The introduction of one metre social distancing guidelines and the use of face masks will reduce any health threat.

Observations at the car park suggest that the cycle route through the parking spaces is very little used (with some cyclists opting to use the service road anyway).

The car park has been busy on occasions but has not yet reached capacity. This may change if August is as busy as it has been in the past

Verdict – amend the scheme to allow cyclists to use the car park service road.

There is no Coronavirus heath justification for routing cyclists through car parking spaces. The break in the perimeter fence can be retained – and one place bollarded off – to allow access via the service road to Bootham Tce and Almery Garth. A ramp to St Mary’s – promised but never delivered – would be a useful for both cyclists and disabled buggy users.

The Council should sort out an acceptable route for cyclists wishing to access the route from Scarborough bridge to Lowther Tce (long term plans for the station frontage remodelling need to recognise this demand)

Conned off section on Marygate car park is little used by cyclists
No cycling when you reach the station

News awaited on future of Barbican eyesore site

The derelict site next to he Barbican was due to be sold by informal tender last November. There has been no word since then and the land is still listed with Savills (Leeds).

The site has an existing planning permission for 187 apartments.

The land has been available for development for over 10 years. Unfortunately it currently blights the local neighbourhood and is an unwelcome sight for visitors walking the City Walls.

The Contonavirus will have had an affect on the house building market although current demand for some types of property in the City is apparently strengthening. The reduction in Stamp Duty should provide a further boost.

It would be a shame if this key site were left as it is for another decade.

Coronavirus York updates; 23rd July 2020

Deaths and test results

The have been no additional hospital deaths or positive test results today

Face coverings

It is already mandatory to wear a face covering when using public transport and from this Friday (24 July), we must also wear one when we’re out shopping.

A face covering is classed as something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings, make your own or use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering, but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

A face covering should:

·         cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably

·         fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face

·         be secured to the head with ties or ear loops

·         be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable

·         ideally include at least two layers of fabric

We also have a video with advice from our Assistant Director for Public Health, Fiona Phillips, available to view on YouTube, which you are welcome to share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHdcSC9Khfw&feature=emb_title

Some people are exempt from wearing one for medical reasons.

More details on face coverings are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

Reopening of leisure centres

Better Leisure, the charitable social enterprise that operates leisure facilities on behalf of City Of York Council, has announced its plans for a phased reopening from 25 July 2020.

All customers will have to book online or on the Better App for an hour slot at each centre: https://www.better.org.uk/coronavirus/booking

Burnholme Sports Centre and Energise Leisure Centre will open on 25 July for gym, Swim and group exercise classes. Yearsley Pool will open in August with a date still to be confirmed.

Centre opening times:

·         Burnholme Sports Centre – Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am -4pm

·         Energise Leisure Centre – Monday to Friday 7am – 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am -4pm

Inside centres, signage and floor markings will assist with one-way access and social distancing. Equipment within gym areas will be reduced to ensure that 2 metres social distancing between users is maintained, while some fitness classes will be relocated to sports halls or even, weather permitting, the open air.

Swim customers are requested to arrive with their costume on under their clothes to save time and reduce pressure on change areas. Gym and studio customers will be encouraged to bring their own drinking water (and mat if needed) – and shower and change at home.

Staff will be adopting a new, enhanced cleaning regime, while customers will be asked to wipe down the equipment that they have used. Hand sanitiser will be available throughout leisure centre buildings.

More information is available at https://www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/york/news/re-opening-of-leisure-facilities-in-york

Lowfields – new homes not ready for occupation until next year

This Lowfields site will include 140 mixed tenure homes of which 56 will be affordable homes. The contractor has been on site since December 2019 and the Council says that it is “progressing well” with significant progress on “infrastructure work along with substructures”.

However the first 34 homes are now not due to be completed until early in 2021.

The Council decided to develop the site itself at a meeting held in July 2018

It later formed a company called Shape homes and said it would recruit staff to work with it. The latest financial report suggest that this had not progressed by the end of the financial year with over £1.2 million of the available budget slipping into the current year.

The Council also failed to invest £1.9 million of the budget that it set aside for the repair and modernisation of existing homes.

Football pitches

Meanwhile the football pitch project on Sim Balk Lane has stalled. The pitches were nominally supposed to replace those lost at Lowfields as a result of development, albeit they are 3 miles away. The land near London Bridge became waterlogged over the winter and is only now beginning to grass over.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is New-football-pitches-Sim-Balk-Lane-4-4th-Aug-2019-858x1024.jpg

The biggest problem though is the expensive “pavilion” which incorporates changing rooms.

A report to a meeting being held today says, “The construction of the pavilion / changing rooms has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 restrictions and it is not known when the work will be able to restart. The final procurement for the access road has also been put on hold”.

We wish that project well, but would have preferred to see some of the £850,000 cost (to taxpayers) invested in outdoor sports/leisure facilities in the Westfield area.

Huge £1.8 million overspend by Council on James House project

The conversion of James House from offices to 57 self-contained apartments for temporary homeless accommodation was completed on 14th April 2020, fifteen months behind schedule.

The Council says, “For homeless households the self-contained apartments will offer safe, secure and comfortable accommodation before permanent housing can be found for them. James House was open to residents in June 2020”.

The Council now admits that, as well as being 15 months behind schedule, the final costs are currently £1.782m above the agreed budget of £12.4m.

The council says that they have appointed independent experts to review the programming, delay, and quantity surveying aspects of the project.

Latest waste service update from York Council – Wednesday 22 July

We were unable to collect household waste from Kingsway West in Westfield due to access issues. We’ll attempt to collect this household waste on Thursday 23 July, access permitting. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were unable to collect recycling from parts of Heworth due to vehicle issues. We’ll collect this recycling on Thursday 23 July. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were unable to collect garden waste from parts of Heworth and parts of Acomb due to vehicle issues. We’ll collect this garden waste on the evening of Wednesday 22 July, or onThursday 23 July. Please leave your containers out for collection.

We were able to collect all outstanding waste from Tuesday 21 July.

Station front plans revised

Revised plans have been submitted to improve York Station Front with the removal of Queen Street Bridge and a reorganisation of the transport interchange in front of the station.

Forecourt

Following comments raised throughout the 2019 Station front planning process, revised plans to transform York Station Front have been submitted for consultation. This will see an addendum added to modify several areas of the original planning application, following further consultation with partners, residents and station users.

The key changes to the scheme include:

  • A redesigned multi-storey car park. After consulting with English Heritage, plans for the car park have been revised to better respect the heritage of the railway and York RI. This will also move all the station parking into one area making it better visually.
  • The layout of parcel square has been redesigned so it is more in keeping with station heritage, and in conversation with existing parcel square tenants to give them a prime location in the remodelled station.
  • Five on-street parking spaces removed from Queen Street to allow a safer cycle route to promote active travel, whilst reducing congestion around the station.
Image
Layout
Multi storey car park
City walls link
Station frontage

A lot more detail including an interesting historical analysis of the station site can be read by clicking here

For more information about the station front visit www.york.gov.uk/StationFront

People can share their views and submit comments on the application at https://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/ using ref. 19/00535/FULM and 19/00542/LBC

Coronavirus York updates; 22nd July 2020

Deaths and test results

4 more positive test results have been added to the governments figures. This brings the cumulative total in the City to 916.

There have been no more hospital deaths

Coronavirus impacts on health services

A meeting is taking place next week which will consider the local health impacts of the Caronavirus epidemic. Details here

Particularly interesting – and to an extent concern – is a report relating to the impact that the crisis has had on people, systems and priorities in York.

Waste collection update – Chapelfields affected

After a few good days, when most collections were completed on schedule, vehicle unreliability resulted in delays yesterday according to the Council. They report;

Latest waste service update Tuesday 21 July

All household waste collections have been made.

We were unable to collect recycling waste from Chapelfields and parts of Bishopthorpe due to vehicle breakdowns. We’ll return for this waste on the evening of Tuesday 21 July. Please leave your containers out for collection.

We were unable to collect garden waste from parts of ChapelfieldsAskham Lane and Tang Hall due to vehicle breakdowns.

We’ll return to Chapelfields and Askham Lane on the evening of Tuesday 21 July. Please leave your containers out for collection.

We’ll return to Tang Hall on Wednesday 22 July. Please present your containers for collection by 7am.

We have collected all the outstanding recycling and garden waste from Monday 20 July and Friday 17 July.

City of York Council welcomes Census change to Count Armed Forces Community In

Best Remembrance Day GIFs | Gfycat

For the first time in the history of the Census, there’ll be a question on service in the Armed Forces following a campaign by The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland, and supported by the council.

The council is delighted that the Government has announced the 2021 Census will now include a question to provide information on whether someone has served in HM Armed Forces, following legislation passed last month.

The Royal British Legion, which led the campaign, is at the heart of a national network offering a range of support and services to the Armed Forces community. The decision to include the question on the 2021 census will provide the Legion, as well as public bodies, local authorities, and other military charities with valuable information to ensure they can best meet the needs of serving personnel, veterans and their families.

It has been estimated that there are 2.4 million veterans currently living in Great Britain, who make up part of a wider ex-Service community which includes their spouses, partners, dependent children and widow(er)s. However, little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group. Including an Armed Forces question in the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Armed Forces Champion and leader of City of York Council, said:

Having a better understanding of the profile and needs of veterans in York is a key part of making sure our services are tailored for serving personnel, veterans and their families.”

“The feedback we received from the Armed Forces Community survey we carried out last year has been incredibly useful in helping to shape services for the furture and we hope that the census question will help support this work. We are incredibly proud of York’s reservists, armed forces personnel and veterans and I am so pleased that the impact and legacy of armed forces personnel across the UK is being recognised in this way.”

Charles Byrne, Director-General of The Royal British Legion, said:

This is an extremely proud moment for the Legion. After leading a successful campaign, the fact that a military question will be in the 2021 Census will significantly improve our understanding of the Armed Forces community which up until now has been very limited. It will ensure that we, along with other charities and service providers, can deliver the best service possible to them when and where it is needed most.”

“This is something we have been striving towards for many years, it will have a huge impact on service personnel, veterans and their families well into the future, as the outcome will allow us to provide more effective care and support to those who are in need. We are delighted and are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign and helped us to achieve this historical success”

Visit www.rbl.org.uk/campaigns to find out more about the campaign, or post your own pledge of support on social media using the #CountThemIn.

‘Count Them In’ is part of The Royal British Legion’s ongoing campaign work to help champion the interests, welfare, and contributions of the Armed Forces Community.

Coronavirus York updates; 21st July 2020

Deaths and test results

There have been no further hospital deaths or positive test results in York. It is now 7 days since the last positive test result in York and over 4 weeks since the last hospital death

However latest government figures reveal that there was an additional death in a York Care Home on 14th July. This brought the cumulative total of deaths from coronavirus in York care homes up to 77.