Corona Virus update – 28th March 2020

Aldi queue priorities for NHS & emergency services

Supermarket Aldi has said that nurses, police officers and firefighters will take priority in its queues.

In a statement, it said: “All day, every day, key workers in the NHS, police and fire service will take priority ahead of queues into our stores upon showing a valid ID.

“This is in addition to early access on a Sunday, where they can enter stores 30 minutes prior to opening.

Thank you from everyone at Aldi.”

York Council guidance updated

The latest council guidance can be found on this link.

Regrettably it still does not address the issue of “routine” food shopping, stock positions, “least busy time” advice  and the lack of delivery & contactless payment options (other than plans to use volunteers to help the needy – see below)

A national briefing on the position at supermarkets can be found here https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/coronavirus-latest-retailer-announcements/

Financial support for residents

The York Council  have announced a details of emergency funds totalling £1.25m for residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents will be able to receive financial help from two funds, depending on their circumstances and how much help they need. The two funds are the:

  • Emergency hardship fund for residents affected by Covid-19
  • Council tax COVID-19 hardship fund

More information at at www.york.gov.uk/coronavirus

York Council community response and hubs

“We have invited people in need to contact us via the council’s standard number as well as via covid19help@york.gov.uk  Calls are being dealt with by the Customer Centre (now operating 7 days a week).  Any requests for help that fall outside of normal service requests are being forwarded to a unit that we have established to respond to individual need.   We are dealing with a wide range of requests for help.  We are responding according to the nature of the need, for example:

  • Referring to a voluntary organisation providing a relevant service
  • Sending a volunteer to do shopping for the individual
  • Arranging a delivery of food via the foodbank
  • Arranging delivery of food that we have procured
  • Arranging follow-up welfare calls using volunteers
  • Linking the individual into the local Facebook groups

To support this effort we are in daily contact with all the relevant voluntary organisations to understand their needs as well as what they have to offer.  We are working particularly closely with the foodbank to focus on food issues to understand demand and adapt our approach accordingly.

Our response will now be bolstered through the establishment of community hubs.  The hubs are part of the city’s co-ordinated response to the COVID-19 emergency. They are not open to the public and are at strategic locations around the city. In the first instance these respond to the government’s requirement to deliver food to the “medically shielded” (we will be provided with a list of who these people are) prior to a national door to door delivery system kicking in.  We expect our first delivery of food imminently to our central warehouse.  Our hubs will also provide a safety net for this system should any individual be missed. 10 hubs are now ready to pack food into boxes as soon as it is delivered.  A further 14 can be opened if required”.

Homeless support

We are aware of the government’s announcement about how council’s should be supporting homeless people. People sleeping rough in the city are among the most vulnerable in the city and it is important for their immediate and long-term health to get them into accommodation.  We have accommodation for those who are still outside. From there, we can provide them regularly with food and support for their other needs.The Government has asked us to triage people to different location according to any underlying health issues and we’re working on this. More information on our support we are offering was outlined in our  press release from earlier this week.

Business support

The business briefing includes how we’ve worked with Make it York, York BID and the LEPs to make the case for small employer support, and are raising some teething issues with over government-backed loans with the British Business Bank. Now we are asking businesses to tell us what other support their business needs by completing this short survey from Make it York – whether they are a member or not.

 Mental wellbeing

Public Health England has tailored Every Mind Matters to provide advice and tips on how to manage anxiety during social distancing and isolation. People can find guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain mental wellbeing while at home or are worried and anxious about the outbreak is the NHS site.

Service changes

Register office

 As of Monday 30 March, York Register Office is closed to the public following the Coivd-19 pandemic. Following Government guidance we are now asking people to register a death by telephone.  If you have been given a medical certificate of cause of death from a doctor, you will need to deliver this to the Register Office (post through the letter box) or post the certificate to us.

Before delivering or posting please ensure you add the following details, clearly, on the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) envelope:

  • name of the person who will register the death
  • a contact number and email address for the person who will be registering the death
  • the name of the funeral director (if known)

Once we have received the MCCD we will call you to arrange the registration. If you have not received a MCCD from the doctor, please call 01904 654477 or email registrar@york.gov.uk. We apologise for any inconveninence.

 Changes to public transport

Following the Covid-19 pandemic City of York Council have worked with York’s bus and train operators to ensure key workers and people making essential journeys are still able to get in and around the city.

After the Government announced guidelines stopping all but essential travel the number of people using bus and train services in the city has dropped substantially. In light of this we have worked with operators to remove non-essential services. We are also reminding those who are travelling need to consider social distancing whilst they move around.

 Bus services:

Bus operators and the council have looked at bus usage over the past week after restrictions were put in place to assess what trips are required for key workers, essential journeys, and also to gauge demand levels so services can operate within social distancing guidelines. Most services are continuing to run, but on a less frequent timetable. Some services will stop where there are other options for travellers. Specific changes are:

  • Park and ride services from Askham Bar, Poppleton Bar and Grimston Bar will cease from Sunday.  FirstYork will take park and ride tickets on adjacent services on their town network (for example, service 12 for Askham Bar, service 10 from Poppleton Bar and Grimston Bar).  The park and ride services from the Designer Outlet, Rawcliffe Bar and Monks Cross will continue to run, although at a half hourly frequency.  The car parks at Grimston Bar and Poppleton Bar will be closed, although the car park at Askham Bar will remain open.   The Hospital Shuttle Bus from Rawcliffe Bar will continue to run.
  • “Local” services in York will run at a reduced frequency.  Most of First’s network will operate at a half hour frequency, with half-hourly services becoming approximately hourly.  Service 13 (Connexions) will run hourly.  Service 20 every 2 hours, with frequency reductions also on services 24/25/26.  Service 19 will cease to operate, although its stops in Rawcliffe and Clifton will be served by the Hospital Shuttle Bus.
  • CitySightseeing services will not operate.

Longer distance services are also effected.

  • Coastliner services are combined with Cityzap and will operate every hour.  Service 415 to Selby will operate every hour, services from East Yorkshire have also been reduced.  Services 22, 30, 40 and 412 will operate but at reduced frequencies.

Bus users are asked to check operator websites before they travel for the most up to date information.  These can be accessed via itravel York website www.itravelyork.info Whilst these temporary changes are in place bus timetable apps and screens will not be displaying the correct information.

 Rail services:

Train companies are now offering a reduced service – ensuring key workers are still able to travel as required.  Timetables changes will be introduced from Sunday and full details are available via the National Rail Journey Planner and train operating company websites

 Car parking:

A reminder that free car parking for key workers and food workers:

Key workers who work in the NHS or are health and social care related services or work in supermarkets and food outlets without parking (this does not include takeaways) will be able to park for free in council car parks to support the fantastic work they are doing during the corona virus pandemic. Our only ask is that they put in the windscreen a letter on their employers headed paper confirming that they are a key worker in one of the services mentioned above.

During the outbreak the council are mindful that people may not be able to move their car whilst they self-isolate some discretion is being shown to people who park legally provided they are not causing an obstruction or wilfully breaking the law. Any urgent enquiries on this can be sent to parking@york.gov.uk where officers will get back to you as soon as possible.

Please note Fossbank and Piccadilly car parks are currently closed.

Healthy child service

In line with government advice, a few changes have been made to our healthy child service offer.

New parents will still be offered a face to face visit from a Health Visitor when they have been discharged by the midwife. Health visitors will call before they visit to ask about symptoms of coronavirus in the household. Health Visitors can support new parents with feeding, help to understand baby’s communication cues and answer questions relating to baby’s health, safety and development.

Health visitors and school nurses can still be contacted by phone and are on hand to provide advice and support. Please do not come to the centres, we will contact you by phone and visit only if it is essential and safe to do so.

The team can support over the phone with behaviour, toileting, sleep, healthy eating, ideas for activities during isolation and lots more.

Young people can contact the school nurses confidentially by text or call on 07833 437363 Monday- Friday 08:30-17:00

Our health visitors and school nurses can be called (Monday to Friday 8.30am -5pm) on:

  • The Avenues children’s centre 01904 551760
  • Clifton Children’s centre 01904 552322
  • Hob Moor children’s centre 01904 555475

Castle car park to close for BBC “CBeebies” event.

A York Council statement says,

“The York council has been approached by an event and production company, Thesus, to seek its permission to locate the BBC CBeebies themed children’s rainbow adventure experience within part of Castle car park between 9th September and 6th October 2020.

It is intended that the facility will be provided in various locations across the UK through a road show and York has been chosen as one of the preferred destinations.

The facility will provide a hosted children’s experience providing a CBeebies branded soft play and learning adventure experience.

The council is charging an income which it will obtain up front and which is in line with anticipated income it would receive from the parking spaces that the facility will occupy.

The proposal follows similar events held on the Castle Car Park, such as the Rose Theatre. It also adheres to the aspirations of the Castle Gateway project which identifies the site as a future events space and for which the Council are trialling different uses upon”.

The Council is currently building a multi storey replacement for the Castle car park. It is unlikely to be finished before the end of the year,

Man fined £700 for misuse of blue badge in Duncombe Place

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of Blue Badge fraud in York city centre.

Christopher Wilson (aged 46 of Fox Howe, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough) was found misusing a family member’s Blue Badge in York.

Mr Wilson was seen by a Civil Enforcement Officer, parked on Duncombe Place, near York Minster in August 2019.

During the course of the investigation, conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, Mr Wilson was interviewed under caution and admitted that he was the driver of the vehicle displaying the Blue Badge.

He confirmed that the badge holder was not present at any point of the journey and was at home in Middlesbrough. Mr Wilson and his wife had driven to York that day for a social occasion and were running late for a restaurant reservation, when he decided to use the Blue Bade to park on yellow lines.

Mr Wilson was sentenced by York Magistrates on 28 January 2020 after pleading guilty by post and apologising for his actions. He received a fine and was ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge, totaling £701.

Newbury Avenue bungalows set to get first tenants

The Council has provided an electric vehicle recharging point  in the car park of the new bungalows which are reached completion in Newbury Avenue.

The bungalows look very smart, albeit completion of the work is behind schedule. The original decision to knock down the garages which were on the site was controversial because the York Council failed to address the chronic lack of off street parking lay-bys in the estate. The parking problem has continued to grow

Electric charging points are set to become a standard feature of new homes in the City.

The Council will consider shortly a report which looks at how electric vehicle charging point availability can be improved across the whole City.

Amongst the issues considered are the difficulties for electric car owners who live in terraced streets with no off street space available.

One suggesting might see charging points added to street lighting columns – although the costs of implementing such a programme would be huge.

Verge damage – no improvement despite Council promises.

Damaged verge on Thoresby Road 2019

Its over 3 years since the York Council looked at the problem of vehicle damage to grass verges. A lengthy report promised improvements not least in taking action against drivers who carelessly damaged verges.

Verge damage was costing taxpayers around £35 per sq metre to fix. Enforcement action was promised and some “Ward Committees” also said they would use their delegated budget to provide lay-bys.

St Stephens Road

There has sadly been little progress. Problem locations such as the flats on Thoresby Road continue to be blighted. Promised lay-bys have not materialised. There has been no enforcement action, no protective bollards or “eco grid” surfacing have been installed.

Drivers do need somewhere to park their vehicles but the Council’s response has been glacial recently.

£499 penalty for York woman convicted of Blue Badge misuse

A woman in York has pleaded guilty to misusing a relative’s disabled badge to illegally park in York city centre.

Lisa Parker (aged 32 of Campleshon Road, York) was found to have used the Blue Badge to park on Castlegate on 14 June 2019. The case was referred to Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation team, after a member of the parking team spotted the van parked on double yellow lines and displaying the badge.

Blue Badges make it easier for people to travel and maintain independence, however can be open to abuse. Blue Badges allow people to park in certain locations including double yellow lines and disabled spaces, however these benefits are only intended for the badge holder, or someone who is transporting them.

The badge holder must be either in the vehicle when it is parked, or in the vehicle when it leaves the location it was parked in. If a person drops the badge holder off and then goes to park elsewhere, the badge cannot be used, as the badge holder is no longer with them.

If someone is picking up a badge holder, then they can only use the badge to park in the place where they are picking them up. A Blue Badge cannot be used without the badge holder, even if errands are being run for them.

On 14 June 2019, a City of York Council parking officer saw a Blue Badge displayed in the window of a van parked on Castlegate. After identifying the badge number, investigators found that the same badge was subject to an investigation in 2017, with the same vehicle parked in the same place. The vehicle belonged to Ms Parker, who used the same relative’s Blue Badge to park there without the badge holder, for which she had already received a warning from the council.

Ms Parker was invited to an interview under caution on 13 August 2019 but refused to attend. The previous misuse of the badge in 2017 was a factor in City of York Council deciding to seek prosecution in this case.

Ms Parker pleaded guilty by post and was sentenced in York Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 17 December 2019. She received a fine and was ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge, totalling £499.

Councillor Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, said: “This case shows that the council takes Blue Badge misuse seriously and is committed to taking action to prevent misuse of the Blue Bade system, which supports drivers and passengers with disabilities.

“In this instance, the resident had parked their car illegally on double yellow lines in the city centre and displayed a badge to avoid paying a fine, despite previously receiving a warning for the same thing. This could have prevented someone with disabilities and a genuine need for the Blue Badge parking from using it.”

Any members of the public with information on fraudulent activity are encouraged to phone the anonymous fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247, or email counter.fraud@veritau.co.uk.

Bad week for congestion in York

There has been a lot of congestion in York over the last week or so.  With many visitors coming for the Christmas markets and the “Winter Wonderland” the influx is potentially good news for the local economy.

But transport systems have capacity limits and these were reached at times with the Designer Centre car parks effectively full and Park and Ride services compromised.

Queues at the hospital car park have caused delays on bus services while even cyclists have found it difficult to find vacant City centre cycle racks.

Lenin addresses people waiting in a Waitrose queue?

Add in the arrival of General Election campaigners eager to be filmed with a backdrop of crowds of people and the new security barriers, which hinder movement in areas like St Helen’s Square, and things have turned decidedly awkward even for pedestrians.

So, what’s to be done?

We have criticised the Council before about its failure to utilise modern technology to ease travel woes. The real time parking space availability map was removed from their web site last year.

Many of the parking space availability signs which can be seen on arterial roads didn’t work for a long time.

On line site parking space availability web site abandoned by York Council

 A promised link through GPS to car navigation systems – which would help to direct vehicles to car parks where there were spaces – has not materialised.

As a result, vehicles still circle the City looking for spaces, which sometimes don’t exist, adding to congestion and pollution levels.

The York Council needs to raise its game.

On busy days, it should be tweeting updates on at least an hourly basis. Variable message signs on approach roads should be similarly updated. Local Radio has a part to play.

It would be relatively easy to add a CCTV link displaying the conditions at key locations to the Council web site. North Yorkshire already do this (albeit mainly to provide information on road conditions)

Modern problems need modern solutions.

Sadly at the moment there seems to be little sign of urgency at West Offices on the need to further improve traffic management in the City.

Proposals for disabled parking on Piccadilly published

City of York Council has published proposed changes which would introduce new disabled parking to Piccadilly.

​​​​​​The changes were approved by the council’s Executive earlier this year following extensive consultation over the impact of new counter-terrorism measures to protect people using the city centre.

Three traffic regulation orders have been published, proposing:

1) Converting the current pay and display section between Lloyds Bank and Brighthouse into:

Blue Badge parking between 11am and 6am (overnight)
Loading bay from 6am to 11am
2) Converting the existing taxi rank on the opposite side of the road to:

Blue badge parking 11am to 6pm
Taxi rank 6pm to 6am (overnight)
Loading bay 6am to 11am
A third order allows any vehicle displaying a valid disabled person’s badge to access Piccadilly beyond the Merchangate junction – a practicality so that blue badge holders are actually able to access the new parking spaces.

These should create room for up to seven vehicles displaying valid badges to park between 11am and 6am, and another two from 11am to 6pm on the taxi rank side of the road. 

The cycle parking on Piccadilly remains unchanged.

The proposals and the reasons behind them can be inspected at Reception, West Offices, Station Rise, York, during normal business hours. 

Objections or other representations specifying reasons for the objection or representation should be sent in writing to arrive no later than 27 December 2019.

Director of Economy and Place
Network Management, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA
Email: highway.regulation@york.gov.uk
If objections are received, the proposals will be considered at a decision session for the Executive Member for Transport in early 2020.

You can view Executive’s original decision here while the consultation results and proposed mitigation measures are contained within Annex B.

NB. The future of the Airspeed site when the Spark container village leaves next summer has yet to be decided. It has been suggested that it could also be used for disabled car parking.

ResPark plea for Albemarle Road area

Residents say they want a ResPark scheme on Albemarle Road according to a report being considered by the York Council next week. The move comes in the wake of a move to open up a Multi User Games Area (MUGA) for public use at the nearby Millthorpe School.

Part of the planned restrictions which also affect Philadelphia Terrace and Ovington Terrace

The proposal includes the extension of parking restrictions in the area. As we reported some weeks ago, there is already an issue with the narrow highway being obstructed as a result of parking. It is thought that ResPark would reduce the pressures on the street.

Officials say that they cannot complete the ResPark processes before the MUGA opens in the summer bringing the prospect of increased disruption for at least a limited period of time.

Bishopthorpe Road parking restrictions

The meeting will also hear about representations made regarding the installation of a pedestrian refuge in the Bishopthorpe Road area.

Planned parking Restrictions on Bishopthorpe Road

The original proposals attracted a large number of objections.

The plans include the creation of a “clearway” from the racecourse to Bishopthorpe Village.