Shopper numbers down 10% in York City Centre.

285,000 fewer people have visited the Parliament Street area since new traffic restrictions were introduced in August.

Shambles empty
The number of visitors to the City has dropped dramatically since the new restrictions were introduced on Coppergate and on Lendal Bridge.

The latest figures have been released by the York Council following a Freedom of Information request

In total, footfall cameras on Parliament Street recorded 2.695 million people between 1st August and the start of the St Nicholas Fayre on 28th November.

The equivalent figure for 2012 was 2.980 million, a fall of 10%.

Figures recovered over the 4 days of the St Nicholas Fayre although the concentration of footfall may have been influenced by the positioning of the market.

The figures are even more disappointing given the relatively good weather that we have experienced so far this autumn.

They confirm that the new restrictions are having a major adverse effect on the economic viability of many retailers in the City centre.

The Council has previously resisted calls for the restrictions to be suspended at least until the busy pre Christmas period is over.

  • The detailed figures are:
  • August 746,340 visitors (780,646 in 2012 – 4%)
  • September 699,042 (798,182 – 12%)
  • October 717,634 (775,144 – 7%)
  • November 532,157 (646,226 -18%) to start of St Nicholas Fayre on 28th November

By contrast, in the first 7 months of the year, visitor numbers had fallen by a total of 5% with the decrease being blamed on a large increase in car parking charges.

A spreadsheet showing individual figures for each day can be found by clicking here.

A Council survey on residents and visitors reactions to the traffic restrictions can be found here

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/lendalsurvey

 

A bridge too near?

The promised report on Labour plans for a new £10 million bridge near Wilton Rise has now been published.

It turns out that £1.5 million of this will be spent on consultant’s fees.

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

The report claims that the costs of the bridge would be repaid “from the additional income in Business Rates and Council Tax generated by the new developments” (on the York central site).

It then goes on to claim that 1083 new homes will be provided. That is a surprise because the draft Local Plan published by Labour in April assumed only 438 homes would be constructed on this site.

However, the housing numbers included in the Labour draft Local Plan have already been undermined with actual planning applications submitted, and approved, over the last 6 months being in every case higher than the Plan estimate
.
Therefore a much higher housing figure is a legitimate target for the York central site.

The present coalition government policy does encourage development and allows local authorities to retain and invest, for 6 years, additional Council Tax monies generated by new homes (New Homes Bonus).

Business Rates have also been “localised”. So an increase in income from additional commercial buildings would increase the amount that the Council receives from Business Rates. However government grants, which seek to equalise Council income between “prosperous” and less well off areas, could be reduced.

No business case of any sort has been provided for the meeting next week.

In addition to the homes, the “plan” talks about “building 93,000 sq m of office space with ancillary bar, restaurant, retail and leisure uses” in 2015.

A further 35,000 sq m would be built in 2019 in the form on a commercial area “in front of the station” and would include a new hotel although most would be more offices.

Of course, any incremental development in the City provides similar increases in Council income plus more jobs and homes.

Residents might have expected any income to be earmarked to pay for repairs to the public services in the City which have deteriorated so badly over the last 3 years.

Public consultation results - York central access options

Public consultation results – York central access options

Incredibly, the Council is being asked to earmark the £10 million without a development “Masterplan” being in place.

As a result no planning permission exists for the development.

The absence of a business plan is the major problem at present. It remains unclear how the site clean up will be funded (it is heavily polluted) nor is there any guarantee that other transport infrastructure needs can be financed.

From the information, that has been made available, it does seem that the Councils investment will not be underwritten in any way.

It is therefore a very high risk venture.

There is no proposal to form a joint development company which would allow Council Taxpayers to share in the success of any development (to offset the substantial risk)

The legal restrictions – which apply across Europe – on subsidising private companies are not explored in the paper.

Like the sale of the Haymarket car park on Hungate – for around 50% of its current open market value – the Council is being both naïve and reckless with taxpayers money. The promised offices and hotel on Hungate have yet to move forward and so have provided no economic stimulus for the City.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” could well be a similar embarrassment.

With the national economy improving, and some local developers reflecting the more buoyant approach in the City, less risky ways to kick start important developments like York Central should be considered.

Alexander resigns from City centre role.

York City centre "to let"

York City centre “to let”

The Councils Leader is standing down from the chair of the “City Team York” group which was established in response to the national effort to improve the fortunes of the high street.

The move follows months of protests from City centre traders who have seen shopper numbers fall in the wake of the new traffic restrictions and huge increases in car parking charges introduced by the Labour led Council.

Launched in August last year, the group is made up of retailers, the city council and a range of professional and businesses organisations from across the city centre with a remit to improve business growth, resilience and economic vitality.

It replaced a City centre traders group which had worked closely with the Council for many years with the introduction of a cheap “shoppers car park” on Fossbank one of its achievements.

An advert for a new private sector chair has been published.

Closing date for applications is 31st December 2013 and full details for any business person who would be interested in applying for this voluntary post may be found here: http://www.yorkmeansbusiness.co.uk/updates/city-team-york-chair.aspx

Small Business Saturday Bus comes to York tomorrow (Tuesday!)

Small business saturday

On Tuesday 19 November, York will be the first calling point, and the only one in the North of England, of the nationwide bus tour promoting the first ever Small Business Saturday in the UK.

St Sampsons Square 11:00am – 2:00pm

Small Business Saturday is on 7 December, and is all about encouraging everyone in the UK to support small businesses.

Events and promotions are being held throughout the country on what is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. T

he Prime Minister, the government and all major political parties are endorsing the day.

(more…)

Boost for unemployed youth in York

Major cities in England will receive government cash to invest over the next 3 years to help young people into lasting employment.

Nick Glegg

Nick Glegg

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Cities Minister Greg Clark are announcing investment from a pot of government cash given to England’s major cities to invest over the next 3 years, with the aim of helping more than 25,000 young people into jobs that last.

£4.6 million will be invested in the Leeds City Region to provide intensive, targeted wraparound support for at risk and long-term unemployed young people, an innovative pilot looking at the role that Employment Agencies can play in helping young people into work and the creation of a new Young Ambassador Scheme to offer peer mentoring, support and advice to young people

There are more people in work today than ever before. Since 2010 the government has helped to create over 1.4 million jobs in the private sector and over 1 million apprenticeships have started since the election.

Since April 2012, over 136,000 young people have started a work experience placement through the Youth Contract.

On 30 July the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Minister for Cities Greg Clark launched a competition for cities to design trailblazing initiatives to boost youth employment using £50m of funding from the Youth Contract scheme.

(more…)

Number of jobseekers falls again in York

The number of people claiming Jobs Seekers Allowance (JSA) in York has again fallen.

The Office for National Statistics have released figures today stating that there are 2195 claimants in York, a fall of 122 from last month and of 872 since October 2012.

National unemployment trends click to enlarge

National unemployment trends click to enlarge

The claimant count represents 1.6% of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 3.9%.

The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 3%.

The change though reflects the national economic recovery.

Nationally the number of people in work has increased by 378,000 in the last year to a record breaking 29.95m according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) today.

The unemployment rate has also fallen to 7.6%, down 0.2%.

Today’s figures also show that unemployment has fallen by 48,000 in the last year, and long term unemployment has dropped by 19,000 in the last three months.

The number of young people in work has increased by 50,000 over the last three months, and youth unemployment has dropped by 13,100.
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York City centre shopper decline started in 2012

York City centre "to let"

York City centre “to let”

The calamitous decline in the number of shoppers in the City centre first became apparent in 2012.

In that year, the new Labour administration increased car parking charges by 20p for residents.

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

In 2013 they went up a gain meaning that residents faced a 36% hike in just 2 years.

We forecast that this could have major implications for City centre traders.

The additional traffic restrictions have simply accelerated the downward spiral with “to let” notice springing up all around the City centre as shops pull out.

In the period up to 2011 the, then LibDem led, Council had frozen parking charges.

It had even reduced them at an innovatory “shoppers car park” at Foss Bank.

Footfall figures reveal that for the first 3 years of the recession (2008 – 2011) the numbers accessing the City centre were remarkably stable.

2012 saw a 6% reduction while this increased to 12% comparing September 2013 with the same month in 2012.

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

New traffic restrictions were blamed for the accelerating trend.

Meanwhile the numbers of bus passengers has also fallen away although the Council has so far refused to reveal the 2012 passenger numbers.

As we said yesterday, the Council seems to be frozen into inactivity with no real idea what to do to get itself out of the self created crisis.

Nero showed a greater sense of urgency.

Jobseekers claimant count falls again in York

click for interactive map showing what the LibDems are doing to help job creation in York

click for interactive map showing what the LibDems are doing to help job creation in York

The number of people claiming Jobs Seekers Allowance (JSA) in York has again fallen, representing the lowest figure since October 2008.

The Office for National Statistics have released figures today stating that there are 2317 claimants in York, a fall of 134 from last month and of 740 from September 2012.

The claimant count represents 1.7% of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 4.1%.

The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 3.2%.

Edward McMillan-Scott

Edward McMillan-Scott

Meanwhile, York’s Lib Dem Euro MP Edward McMillan-Scott has worked alongside others to secure new EU trade deals with countries like the US and South Korea that are worth an extra £12 billion to the British economy each year.

Edward said: “These deals mean it will be easier for local companies to trade with the EU and beyond – helping to protect local jobs. We are also working to cut back on red tape, to help small businesses.”

All this and millions of jobs across the UK will be put at risk if UKIP and the Conservatives get their way and pull Britain out of Europe.

Small business rate relief goes begging in York?

The York Council has published a list of all commercial properties which qualify for a reduction in their rates payable under the Small Business Rates Relief scheme who, as of 20th September 2013, were not receiving Small Business Rates Relief and where the properties rateable value was under £12,000.

small bus

The full list can be seen by clicking here.

The government’s guidance on small business rate relief says,

“You can get small business rate relief if:

• you only use one property

• its rateable value is less than £12,000

Until 31 March 2014 you’ll get 100% relief (doubled from the usual rate of 50%) for properties with a rateable value of £6,000 or less. This means you won’t pay business rates on properties with a rateable value of £6,000 or less.

The rate of relief will gradually decrease from 100% to 0% for properties with a rateable value between £6,001 and £12,000.

If you have more than one property. You could get small business rate relief if the rateable value of each of your other properties is less than £2,600. The rateable values of the properties are added together and the relief applied to the main property”.

The York Council’s advice and application forms can be found here.

However the web page appears to need updating.

The Council have not commented on whether they proactively contact small businesses which may qualify for the relief.

We believe, against a background of failing retail businesses particularly in suburban locations – that the Council, should do more to help.

Careers event at York racecourse on 22nd October

Steps to Success – start planning your future today

The event supports young people in the city as they consider their options for key stage 4 and post-16 education, training or employment, particularly as all current year 11 pupils now have to remain in training or education until the age of 18.

Spear-Cartoon_3588

Held in the Ebor Stand from 3.30pm until 8.00pm, the event will provide information about the range of education and training opportunities available (including Apprenticeships and other work based training).
Young people will be able to access information from five different information zones at the session; Key Stage 4, Post 16, Progression to Higher Education, Career Pathways and Support Services, as well as the opportunity to hear about the experiences of current learners.

A series of presentations on Options for Key Stage 4 and beyond, Options for post 16 education and training, Apprenticeships and Progression to Higher Education will also run throughout the evening.

City of York Council has worked in partnership with the University of York and York St John University to stage the event, as part of their commitment to widening participation in Higher Education.

For any additional information please contact Beverley Wills, 14-19 Support Adviser, City of York Council, on beverley.wills@york.gov.uk or call 01904 553008.