Baroness Kramer, the Transport Minister, was in York today visiting the sites of 2 new Park and Ride facilities.
Over 100 protestors assembled last week to oppose the renewal of a lap dancing clubs licence in York.
The club operator Andrew Whitney – who stood unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the Heworth Ward by election in 2009 – said that failure to renew the license would result in 40 lap dancers losing their jobs.
Most of the protesters were friends and relatives of the dancers. They claimed that the girls were being politically harassed during their work stints, and that this amounted to a cruel and unusual punishment.
One visitor to the club was Ann “the knife” Mac (not her real name) who was auditioning following losing her North Yorkshire job.
On leaving the club after her interview she commented , “ What relevance my views on the Common Agricultural Policy have for this job I’m not sure. However it makes a change from endless discussions about the impact that Bulgarian sheep imports are having on the Thirsk economy”.
Anther dancer Pneumatic Nell (her real name), revealed what went on in the club.
“ I first realised the club was different when, shortly after starting a dance for a customer, Andy came up to me and asked me to sign a petition which sought an immediate referendum on EC membership”.
“On another occasion Andy shouted out “Keynes is dead”. I though he meant that my customer had had a heart attack but it turned out he just wanted to emphasise the importance of monetary policy to the UK economy”.
“ I’m now planning to have what the Leader of the Council calls a community conversation.
After the dance, I’ll ask him what he intends to do to clean up York politics”
One of the checks and balances on the power of Council Cabinets/Executives has been the requirement that their members answer question form backbench members at full Council meetings.
Questions are submitted in writing at least a week before the meeting is scheduled to take place, providing plenty of time for answers to be researched. Until 2011, both questions and written answers were circulated at the beginning of meetings allowing Councillors to ask “follow up” questions.
That protocol was abandoned in 2011 when the new Labour administration decided to circulate answers several days after the meeting had taken place. Effectively this removed any possibility of challenge through supplementary questions.
The management of York Council meetings has deteriorated to the point where questions re rarely reached these days anyway. 70% of the items on the Council agenda were not reached at its last meeting. Business was simply voted through without discussion.
The lack of scrutiny provides unscrupulous Cabinet members with an opportunity to avoid answering difficult questions.
At the meeting on 12th December Cllr Merrett was asked the following question.
“On the Lendal Bridge/Coppergate restrictions could the Cabinet Member confirm the following figures:
- The number of appeals lodged each week since the beginning of August against PCNs issued for contraventions of traffic restrictions on Coppergate and Lendal Bridge
- The number of appeals which have been successful each week
- The total revenue that the Council has received so far from PCNs following the introduction of the new restrictions on Coppergate and Lendal Bridge
- The weekly changes to journey times (all modes of transport) on each arterial road and on each section of the inner ring road since the introduction of the new traffic restrictions
- The numbers of accidents reported on roads in the City centre comparing the last 3 months with the equivalent period in 2012
- The latest air quality monitoring reports for key sites in and close to the City centre, including the Leeman Road area, and comparing these with last year?”
This expecting a short factual answer will have been disappointed. None of the requested numbers were provided.
The reply read
“Data is being ‘harvested’ for vehicle travel times across the city and far more detailed information will be published when this data becomes available in the new year.
Travel time data for radial arterial routes for Park and Ride has already been published and this clearly demonstrates that that the restriction has not led to the ‘dire effect on traffic’ nor the gridlock as anticipated by some.
Traffic flow data for these radial routes reinforces this – the flows are very similar comparing this year to last year.
Buses using the bridge are showing significant reductions in travel times – with average travel times Clarence Street to Rougier Street reducing by 4 to 5 minutes and 2 to 3 minutes in the reverse direction.
Improvements in vehicle flow have been observed at the Station Frontage, Lendal Arch Gyratory, Museum Street, St Leonards Place, Bootham, Gillygate, Clarence Street and Lord Mayors Walk.
Water End has seen an increase in traffic volume (as was predicted) although Clifton Green is generally coping well with the additional traffic, albeit with some late afternoon pressures at the junction. Signal adjustment has been undertaken and the situation continues to be closely monitored on a day to day basis via CCTV.
Skeldergate Bridge, Walmgate Bar and Foss Islands Road have seen increases in traffic (as was predicted) and some increase in the level of delay.
The traffic control centre continues to actively manage the traffic to help minimise the impact.
e) The numbers of accidents reported on roads in the City centre comparing the last 3 months with the equivalent period in 2012
There is a lag of 3 to 4 months between an accident being reported to the police and it being available for analysis on our accident database. People have 28 days to report injury accidents and the data then requires inputting and validating by the police and the council. Data for Sep, Oct, Nov 2013 will become available in the new year.
For information the total number of accidents on roads within the city centre (inner ring road boundary) for 2012 are:
IRR – 01/09/2012 to 30/11/2012 (all times of day)
Fatal = 0
Serious = 1
Slight = 28
IRR – 01/09/2012 to 30/11/2012 (between 10:30 – 17:00 hrs)
Fatal = 0
Serious = 0
Slight = 12”
As a result of the evasion, the requested information is likely to be the subject of a Freedom of Information request.
The York Council is handing over the running of its public conveniences to a private contractor.
A standard charge of 40p will be made to users. The contractor will be able to increase the charge by 10p per annum.
The news is not particularly surprising although the scale of the charge is.
Visitors already tortured by traffic restriction fines now face another form of discomfort. The vendetta follows on from the high profile persecution of those “caught short”.
The Council has now published a list of 9 further offenders all of who faced fines of over £100. One urinated outside the Magistrate Court building conveniently saving on transport costs.
The Council hopes to save £75,000 a year from the charge. In return it promises a £663,000 refurbishment programme including £33,000 to be spent on the Front Street Acomb toilets.
All toilets will have unisex cubicles and have baby change facilities. Accessibility will be greatly improved with all facilities having alarm cords for disabled users connected to a 24-hour helpline and there will be 24-hour access to all toilets. This will be controlled by gates operated by payment of a 40p fee – what is already being charged at Silver Street – while disabled users are can continue to use RADAR keys for no charge.
Nine public conveniences will be provide under the new arrangements. The nine are located at:
- Acomb, Front Street
- Haxby, Main Street
- Exhibition Square
- Nunnery Lane CP
- Silver Street
- St George’s Field CP
- Tanner Row
- Union Terrace
Other public conveniences will close
York marathon faces sprint rival
A new York Sprint race is to be held next summer for the first time. The event will aim to find the fastest visitor to the City.
Entrants will be asked to drink 3 pints of lager and will then be given a map of the Councils new network of public conveniences. Contestants will then race to the nearest site.
In line with the publicity for the Lendal bridge closure, recommended routes to the loos will be marked out making full use of the northern by pass.
On arrival 50% of the conveniences will be closed for cleaning.
CCTV cameras will be strapped to the back of each contestant to ensure that they do not cheat.
The entry fee for the contest will be 40p Multiple entries are allowed but will be charged separately.
Entry forms will be available on the Council web site shortly.
NB. The event has no connection with the “brass monkeys” race although the consequences could be similar.
The Council has announced that the A1237 northern by pass is to become a toll road
Motorists will have to purchase a “pay and display” ticket as happens in other car parks.
The move has been made possible by increased congestion caused by road works and the closure of Lendal Bridge.
Mr I. B. Stuck commented that he hoped that a “pay by phone” option would be made available before his newly ordered camper van was delivered, by air, to the lay-by near Tesco.
“I’m looking forward to my holiday overlooking the River Ouse but I don’t want to have to get out to buy another ticket every time a wheel turns”.
A Council spokesman said it was likely that Mr Stuck would remain stuck at least until the new A59 Park and Ride site opened in the spring.
The Council hopes to extend its pay and display scheme to cover the Hull Road, Fulford Road and Foss Islands Road all of which the spokesman described as “having potential”.
NB. The latest Council report on congestion levels has been published. Well actually it hasn’t. We are told that the figures for traffic volumes are being “cleansed” but will be available “towards the end of October”.
Today is the 1st November.
We hear that Labour Cabinet members have been offered free entrance tickets for the Illuminating York event.
With their £20,000 a year salaries Councillors can well afford to pay the normal entrance charge.
Unlike some children in the City who face a price hike from £1 last year to £5 this year.
Half the adult fee (£3) would have been more reasonable.
City of York Council is inviting residents and visitors to share their experience of and thoughts on York’s evening and night time economy to support plans to improve its quality and long-term future.
This single consultation will feed into three cross-party council Overview and Scrutiny Committees and, as such, is the first to cover such a broad sweep of interests from leisure to business and the public realm. It will inform work to develop a vision of what the evening and night time economy in York might look like in five years time – to be called Yorkafter5.
Feedback will also add to that gathered from an earlier consultation on proposals for a late night levy and the impact of alcohol on the late night economy.