Groves traffic ban plan – not entirely convincing

It seems that through traffic will be banned from The Groves area following a meeting next week.
High traffic levels in The Groves

A report recommends road closures on Lowther Street and Penleys Grove Street in the wake of complaints about safety and emission issues.

The report fails to provide any accident information either for the streets affected or the “alternative” routes (Lord Mayors Walk, Dodsworth Avenue etc.) which will see increases in traffic volumes.

 Nor are any “before” or target “after” air pollution figures provided

Without these it will be impossible to judge whether any change could be judged a success.

The area is already covered by a 20-mph speed limit (one of the oldest in York).

What can be said is that the “short cutting” traffic is intrusive, noisy and can cause vibrations particularly in streets with traffic calming road humps.  Residents living on the affected streets would certainly enjoy an improved quality of life.

The quid pro quo of course is that the road closures would also increase journey length and durations for many car trips from and to The Groves.

The traffic impact figures – assessed using the Councils sophisticated computer model – are expressed in very cautious terms. It is almost as if officials had discovered that the peak hour impact on congestion was potentially calamitous.

There is no origin and destination data provided. We don’t know how the changes will affect, for example, ambulance journey times to the nearby hospital. It is information that must be provided before an informed decision could be made.

It is also surprising – given the apparent concerns about pollution levels -that no consideration has been given to declaring the area a low emission zone. The new coalition Council has been very slow to reverse the Tory led campaign to have ResPark low emission vehicle discount charges abolished. The decision took effect at the beginning of the year.

The declaration of an ultra-low emission zone (basically allowing access only to electric vehicles) will of course have to wait until the Council solves the “on street” charging issue.

The plans involve the whole of The Groves area becoming a single ResPark zone. The zone will include the Monk Bar car park and the St Johns Campus.

NB. The same meeting will hear about plans to redesign the Monk Bar/Lord Mayors Walk junction. New traffic lights will be provided at the same time.

Dozens of changes planned to parking arrangements across York

A bumper list of traffic management changes is being considered at a meeting next week (click for details).

A summary list can be found by clicking here

The cost of advertising the planned changes comes to £25,500. This is three times thae actually cost of changing lines and signage

The changes include removing a motorcycle parking bay on Acomb Road near the shops. It will be replaced by a car parking bay.

“Sliding bollards” plan for York City centre

Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.

Phase 1 of the vehicle exclusion zone

The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)

The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people

More disabled parking is planned for Piccadilly

It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism

Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).

“Sliding” bollards are planned for the entrances to several streets.

The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.

The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.

In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:

•             continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services

•             creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)

•             extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours

•             supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride

*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.

Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.

City centre future

The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exercise on the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.

Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.

If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.

This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.

The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.

The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street

Building works problems increasing

Residents are hoping that some solutions, to the problems caused by widespread building works in the Westfield area, will emerge from last nights public meeting.

There are acute congestion, parking and noise problems at and near sevral sites.

Contractors have been digging up Hob Moor as they proceed wit the Newbury Avnue development. To do so they have cut two gaps in the perimeter hedge (although its is still the bird nesting season)
Parking problems are increasing on Ascot Way. The Lincoln House forecourt parking has gone and the Council have not provided even a temporary facility near the gable end of the building (where there is adequate space). The area is currently fenced off. The parking crisis in the estate has been exacerbated by the demolition of the |Newbury Avenue garages.

Windsor House demolition plan falls at first hurdle

Residents warned the York Council that local roads in the Ascot Way/Kingsway West area were too narrow to accommodate heavy construction traffic.
Windsor House construction site

Despite these warnings, the planning committee approved plans for the demolition of Windsor House but failed to specify any highway improvements.

The foolishness of that decision was highlighted on Friday when two very large trucks made their way from the site onto Kingsway West.

They failed to observe the agreed one-way system forcing other vehicles to mount the footpath and verge.

The traffic plan – regarded by many residents as inadequate – was published on 8th May. (Click here to read).

It was clear yesterday that it will be impossible for construction traffic and other larger vehicles, like buses, to pass each other on the twisting roads.

Several other conditions were imposed on activities on the site (click here). Most have still to be implemented.

Car parking is now at an even greater premium with whole of the Windsor House/Lincoln Court site cordoned off.

The problems have arisen only a few days before residents will be given an opportunity to quiz contractors on their plans.

The “drop in” meeting will take place at the Hob Moor School Children’s Centre (Green Lane) at 3:30pm on Wednesday 5th June.

There is still no news on the Council’s plans to provide an alternative play facility to replace the Multi User Games Area which will be lost when construction work starts. It had been hoped that by now, permission would have been granted for a new pitch to be provided on the nearby Thanet Road Sports Area.

There is also a major question mark about the costs of the “Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children” which will be constructed on the Windsor House site. A Council meeting on 18th June (click) will hear that additional funds are required to sustain the project.

One way system odged on 28th May 2019
Meeting on Wednesday

100 lost car parking spaces, brutal architecture & a dodgy cycle crossing feature in latest St Georges Field plans

York residents are being invited to see the final plans for the St Georges Field and Castle Mills developments.

City of York Council is sharing plans for a multi-storey car park at St George’s Field, a new bridge over the Foss and a residential development at Castle Mills area ahead of submitting planning applications over the next two months. 

The proposed developments are “the vital first stages to deliver the centrepiece of the vision for Castle Gateway – a new public space around Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of York”.

The four-storey car park at St George’s Field is “needed to replace the parking places which would be lost on the current Castle Car Park, and would be funded through the new residential apartment developments on the site of the now demolished Castle Mills Car Park. By moving the car park, the plan would remove a number of journeys from inside the inner ring road”.

As part of the plans a new public bridge spanning the River Foss would connect Piccadilly and the rear of the Castle Museum, opening up a planned cycle and pedestrian route along the river into town.

The plans involve the loss of 100 car parking spaces to which can be added to those already lost when the Castle Mill car park was closed a couple of years ago. The multi storey car park is further away from the main shopping streets. Its lower floor is likely to be unusable when river levels are high.

How the retail community will view this reality remains to be seen.

There is a new shared cycle/pedestrian crossing at the junction with the inner ring road. The proposal fails to separate these users from general traffic, a failing also evident in the solution proposed for cycle priority in the Leeman Road/Marble Arch area.

There will be a shared cycle/pedestrian bridge across the Foss near the rear of the Castle Museum.

More controversially the artists impressions for new residential buildings on Piccadilly show an unrelentingly brutal architectural approach. It will not be to everyone’s taste.

The Council claims that the plans have been refined since they were shared at public events, online and through social media in March.

The two drop-in events feature an exhibition of the proposals and the opportunity to talk to the team about the plans. There is also the chance to take guided walks of the area to explore the developments on location:

Saturday 1 June
Drop-in 11am-2pm / Guided walks at 11:30am and 1pm
Spark : York, Piccadilly

Wednesday 5 June
Drop-in 3pm-7pm / Guided walks at 4pm and 6pm
Friends Meeting House, Friargate

Residents are invited to a drop-in session or to join the conversation on twitter @MyCastlGatewaywww.facebook.com/MyCastleGateway.

You can also view the plans online from Friday 31 May at https://www.york.gov.uk/CastleGatewayMasterplanLatest

The Castle Gateway masterplan was created after City of York Council teamed up with a local group called My Future York to develop ‘My Castle Gateway’.  The ongoing, open conversation has taken in walks, talks and conversations on social media to develop a brief and explore emerging ideas before this masterplan was finalised.

St Georges Field layout
Car Parking plans
Piccadilly/Foss development
Brutal architecture

Spy cameras at Woodthorpe shops? Drivers face £100 fine?

Notices have appeared warning motorists that they face a £100 fine if they use the shoppers car park at Woodthorpe shops for longer than 2 hours. The notices say that ANPR (spy) cameras will be used to enforce the new restrictions.

Woodthorpe shops

We can understand that the owners of the car park which is privately owned may wish to discourage commuter and overnight parking. They have, after all, to pick up the bill for repairs and maintenance. Spaces are intended to be used by shoppers and those visiting the dentist and doctors surgery.

Maintenance standards on the surface of the shopping area and adjacent parking areas does need to be improved. Fortunately, following voluntary efforts, the amount of litter and weeds has been reduced while the flower beds are much tidier.

Camera enforcement seems a little over the top if they are to be used routinely. The last thing that the local community would want to see is more “on street” parking on busy local roads .

NB. There are also concerns about the future of the Post Office which is located in one of the shops.

So who will win the York Council elections?

Dringhouses and Fishergate wards reviewed

Dringhouses and Woodthorpe

The Dringhouses ward  is home to 11,639 residents. Average incomes are lower than the City average. 80% of residents own their home. There are 360 Council homes in the area 1.6% are out of work. Crime levels are below average.  86.5% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 40% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2). Source

Elections

The Dringhouses Ward has traditionally been a LibDem stronghold. The only break in their domination came in 2011 when Labour took two of the seats.  Normal service was resumed in 2015 when the LibDems scored a clean sweep with a substantial swing.  Ann Reid, who retires this year, secured record breaking support, for a local election, when polling 3104 votes.

The poll is remarkable this year as 7 of the 14 candidates declined to give their address on their nomination forms. One has subsequently confirmed that he lives in the ward. However that means that there are only 3 candidates who have confirm a local home. A rare UKIP candidate makes an appearance and another disillusioned Tory is seeking election as an Independent. .

Development of green spaces is a major issue in the ward and already the Labour candidates seem to have blundered by highlighting the threat to Askham Bog. It was the last Labour controlled Council who, in 2013, first included Moor Lane in their “Big City” Local Plan development proposals. Fortunately that threat has now receded as a revised Local Plan which preserves the Green Belt has been agreed  by the coalition.

With Tory support haemorrhaging, it is difficult to see any other result than another LibDem clean sweep in in this ward.

Prediction

3 LibDem seats

Fishergate

The Fishergate ward  is home to 10,123 residents.  Average incomes are lower than the City average. 48% of residents own their home. 39% are private renters and 10% are social tenants. There are 148 Council homes in the area.  2.3% are out of work. Crime levels are slightly above average.  94.7% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 35% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2). Source

Elections

Fishergate is now the Green Party’s York stronghold They have held the seats there for over 16 years.

The Tories did poll well in the area 25 years ago but have been in decline in the ward  in recent years, reaching the point in 2011 where they didn’t even put forward any candidates.

Labour support has been stable but well behind the Greens

There are a lot of young student voters in the ward as highlighted by the high proportion of privately rented property.

The Green Councillors have struggled not to become part of the political establishment but recently they took the City’s Lord Mayoralty for the first time and have led campaigns to have ResPark charges reduced! 

Labour have nominated a retiring Councillor, and recent Lord Mayor (Barbara Boyce), as a candidate albeit one who represented the Heworth Ward . She and the other non Green candidates look set to be “also ran’s”.

Prediction

2 Green seats

Council election manifestos compared

7. Transport

It is said that there are 200,000 transport experts in York. Unfortunately none of them seem to have got near the party policy manifestos this year

Transport is always a controversial area. It is important that parties put forward clear policies. This didn’t happen in 2011 when Labour omitted to mention that they intended to sell off City centre car parks (they tried to sell off Union Terrace car park within weeks of taking office), introduce a universal 20 mph speed limit at a cost of £600,000 (which actually saw both vehicle speeds and accident levels on some roads increase) or draconian access restrictions on Lendal bridge. They also halved the amount spent on road resurfacing.

The Coalition has fared a little better with road repair expenditure increasing (albeit, so far, with little obvious effect). Passenger approval ratings on most bus services have improved. The number of bus passenger trips has increased from 16.2 million to 16.8 million.

There have been mistakes. The decision to scrap the ResPark discount for low emission vehicles, and make it available only to drivers of electric models, was ill-judged. There are no electric vehicles charging points on York streets ( those in car parks are unreliable). “On street” and “on line” systems also fail to display the number of free car park spaces (a facility which was available 10 years ago). The Council resolutely refuses to publish bus service reliability stats (despite the facility being available since “next bus” technology was rolled out a few years ago).

None of the parties say what their policy is on the number of, and charges for, central area parking spaces. They also fail to offer any policies on taxis in general and whether UBER should operate in the City.

All parties offer more investment in resurfacing footpaths and roads. Labour quote £1 million pa. Given that the resurfacing of Stonegate this year will cost £1/2 million, the scale of the problem will be apparent. The LibDems promise to “reconstruct” all adopted highways. Reconstruction involves providing a new base as well as a wearing layer. It is much more expensive then either surface dressing or providing a bitmac overlay. The promise looks optimistic to say the least.

Similarly the Greens hopes for a discrete “off road” cycle network “as exists in some places on the continent” seems to ignore the constraints of an historic city layout… ..and the relative lack of success of the Baedeker raids!)

Although the manifestos avoid the usual mistakes (promising a central bus station, river buses, linear cable cars etc), there will be a feeling that none of the parties is yet ready to embrace the rapidly changing transport technologies which are becoming available.

More off street parking bays completed in Westfield

Most of the promised new parking bays in the Westfield area have now been completed. These are funded from a combination of the Westfield ward delegated budget and the Housing Estate Improvement Programme.

An additional 5 off street lay-by spaces are due to be provided in Tudor Road shortly. These will be funded as part of the Lowfields redevelopment project.

Windsor Garth parking lay by
New parking bay near Beverley Court now in use
Danesfort Avenue off street spaces completed
Newbury Avenue spaces in use
Thoresby Road lay-by almost completed