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

Good progress with installing parking lay bys in Westfield this week

After seemingly years of inactivity, the Council has made good progress in installing new, off street, parking spaces over the last few weeks. The funding for the bays was made available from delegated ward budgets and the “housing estate improvement programme”. More work is needed, but hopefully the new budgets, which will be available from Monday, will allow more speedy progress to be made over the next year.

Following the completion of a new bay to serve Spurr Court on the Foxwood estate, parking space for 4 vehicles has now been provided near the Askham Lane flats. Whether the Council was wise not to relocate the tees to allow for larger capacity bays to be installed may be open to debate!
Next up is Danesfort Avenue where a large bay is under construction. It will serve the flat occupants in a location where there are “on stree”t parking restrictions.
Work should begin next week on providing bays at two locations on Windsor Garth. These were locations chosen by local residents following consultation. The first, above, is opposite the entrance to Kempton Close.
The second bay will be at the side of the road which leads to Hob Stones. In the same area we have asked that a street nameplate be provided on Windsor Garth indicating the way to Hob Stone Court.
The final improvement, which we know to be imminent, is the provision of 3 additional lay-bys on Tudor Road.

Taxpayers bonus from Rod Stewart concert

It looks like Council taxpayers will get a boost from those parking locally at the Rod Stewart concert which is being held on the Knavesmire on Saturday 1st June.

The Council will get the profits from car parking as the event falls outside the terms of the existing Racecourse lease.

Rod Stewart holds the official record attendance for a (free) outdoor concert. 3.5 million attended his gig at Copacabana beach in Rio a few years ago.

Rather fewer are expected to make their way to the Knavesmire in June

Huge York central development gets planning approval

A major development behind York railway station got the go ahead from the Planning Committee last night.

York Central site

It will provide hundreds of new homes and jobs over the next decade or so.

The site has been derelict, and mostly unused, for over 20 years. The progress made in bringing forward the site will probably be recorded by history as the major achievement of the current Council coalition administration.

The development is not without controversy.

The transport plans in particular lack the quality and imagination that many had hoped for. The developers will need to refine access arrangements from the City centre to Leeman Road particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Bus services must include a frequent park and ride link to off site parking spaces at Poppleton Bar.

Some courage will be needed if the site is to be declared an “ultra low emission zone”. Such a step would be an acknowledgement that the declaration of a “climate crisis” by the Council a few days ago was more than just rhetoric.

But overall the decision is a good one for the City, not least because it will reduce the pressure to build on green fields.

Hopefully we will see some development on site before the end of the year.

Lowfields problems continue

No response yet from the site liaison officer following residents’ concerns about delivery arrangements at the Lowfields development site.  Concerns about the impact that the large spoil mountains are having on the local environment have also still to be addressed.
Spoil mountains growing at Lowfields

At a planning committee meeting earlier in the week some progress was made on the plans to create 5 new parking spaces on Tudor Road.

The Lowfields Action Group Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/ reports that officials have confirmed that the contractor responsible for building the new access road will also construct the parking spaces as part of the same contract. Although they said that the work would be done “at the same time” no planning condition was included requiring the 3 new “on street” parking spaces to be constructed before the existing ones are lost.

The Council as both the owner and developer of the site could have offered a unilateral agreement on this but failed to do so.

Cllr Andrew Waller was the only Westfield ward representative to speak up on behalf of residents. He said that the parking spaces to the rear of 108 Tudor Road were too close to the property. He also asked that improvements be made at the Tudor Road /Gale Lane junction.

The discussion about the Yorspace development was a disappointing.  Councillors completely failed to challenge the claim that the proposed homes will be “affordable”. The developer claims they will be “affordable” The Councils own housing officer has confirmed that they will not.

This contradiction remains unexplained.

A Freedom of Information request on a related issue is still outstanding. A response is due on Monday,

No convincing answers given on car parking arrangements. The 12 spaces will not be adequate to cater for the needs of all occupiers and visitors. Overflow parking will therefore further compromise space on Tudor Road, Green Lane and Kingsthorpe. The developers say that occupiers of the building “will not be allowed to own a car” and that all vehicles using the provided spaces will be “communally owned”.

We doubt very much whether they will be able to enforce such a rule.

The only good thing to come out of the debate was an offer from the developer to look again at boundary treatments. They seem to be backing away for the idea of removing the railings. The railings offer good security while permitting the movement of small mammals like hedgehogs.

Lincoln Court let down

The planning committee last night approved the proposals for the extension of Lincoln Court.

Proposed new layout

They failed to include a timetable for the replacement of the all-weather games area which will be destroyed as part of their plan.

Successive Council officials and Tory Councillors claimed that the “MUGA” had not been used.

 That is simply not true. The area was popular for many years but fell into decline because of lack of maintenance with overgrown bushes providing a screen which encouraged anti-social behaviour.

That was down to poor management by the York Council.

Nevertheless providing an alternative at the Thanet Road site would have been a positive proposal. The Councils executive had seemed to take a step in that direction on Monday when they offered to support a new facility.

Council officials admitted last night that they had not even opened discussions with the rugby club which currently leases the Thanet Road site.

 So, what have they been doing for the last 6 months?

The issue will now be referred to the Secretary of State for decision. Residents will make representations in support of Sport England’s position which is that an alternative should be provided before the existing facility is lost.

Lincoln Court

 If this results in delays, then it will be on the heads of the Councillors who last night voted through a scheme which not only sells down the river the hopes of younger people in the Westfield area but also endorses a scheme which provides only a very small external garden space for the use of the elderly residents of Lincoln Court.

Car parking provision is inadequate while a confused traffic management model can only lead to more congestion in the estate with verges and footpaths likely to be damaged by large vehicles.

Progress on parking lay-bys

Askham Lane lay-by work has started

Work on providing a parking lay-by outside the flats on Askham Lane has started. The work has been outstanding for a long time. Residents have increasingly resorted to parking on the verges which, in wet weather, are easily damaged. So this is good progress.

Local LibDem Councillors also report that off street parking is being provided for the flats on Danesfort Avenue. Much of the area has double yellow lines, and sections of Middleton Road are very congested. The work on the layby, which has been in the programme for some time now’ has been scheduled for the week commencing 25th March. It will use the “eco grid” system used in other locations in the ward.

Location of new off street parking spaces on Danesfort Avenue