LibDems consult on parking improvements in Windsor Garth area

Beverley Court

Local Liberal Democrats are conducting a door to door survey in the Windsor Garth area following escalating problems with car parking.

The problems have been exacerbated by recent developments and the Liberal Democrats now want to see alternative parking spaces provided if the proposed demolition of garages on Newbury Avenue gets the go ahead.

Plans for the garage site development are expect to be published late next month with a  referral to the planning committee expected before the end of the summer.

Local residents anticipate that a section 106 notice will be served requiring the developers to fund alternative parking space.

The Council stopped re-letting empty garages as long ago as 2012 – a step which has made the lack of off street car parking space an acute problem.

Some of the possible sites for new parking lay-by area shown on the map below. 

Mixed news on new Park and Ride service

Park and Ride network

It seems that the council has finally received a bid to run its park and ride service. When the contract was first advertised no bids were forthcoming.

In the main the service will continue at it is today.

Key changes include

  • a facility to use contactless bank cards to pay for journeys.
  • Motorists will be able to park overnights (for up to three days) at the Askham Bar and Monks Cross sites (involving the provision of barrier access).
  • New Euro VI compliant buses including the replacement of some articulated single deck buses with double deckers
  • 11 single deck fully electric buses will be retained together with 3 fully electric double deckers

New Alexander Dennis Enviro 400MMC buses proposed

However users face a fare hike from £2-90 to £3-10 with a 10 minute frequency.

A number of enhancements including a late night service are on offer but are unlikely to be accepted for cost reasons.

The new contract will reduce the council’s income to an estimated £80,000 a year.

The Council have refused to disclose the name of the proposed operator.

The new contract will start next year.

York parking account reveals £4.8 million surplus

Draft accounts published by the City of York Council for 2016/17 reveal that the Authority made a substantial surplus on its car parking activities.

Out of a total income of £7.3 million, nearly £5.5 million came from charges levied at off street car parks.

Residents parking schemes brought in £806,000 and penalty charges £600,000 while on-street machines took £466,000. The balance came from coach parks.

The Council spent over £1.3 million on its off street car parks with £1.2 million apportioned to enforcement and administration.

This meant that a surplus of over £4.7 million accrued.

Legally the Council must reinvest any parking profits in transport.

Most of the surplus was spent on highway maintenance (£4 million) and subsidised bus services (£670,000)  The rest went on community transport and shopmobility.

Some drivers may wonder why more has not been invested in resurfacing Council car parks, several of which are now in very poor condition.

The inaccurate “on line” parking space availability map has also been a source of criticism.

Council admits set back to parking space availability web page

The York Council has admitted that its plans, to reintroduce web site information on the availability of car parking spaces, has run into more problems.

It is over 3 years since the service was discontinued. The Council had previously promised that accurate information would be available from the end of March but this deadline passed without the upgrade being completed.

Sources within the Council say that plans to install new loop counters in the surface of car parks – near entrances and exits – have had to be abandoned. Apparently the state of repair of the bitmac surfaces was too poor to allow the installation to take place (which will probably not come as a surprise to users of the Castle car park).

Blossom Street VMS

Now we understand that the Council hopes to utilise video camera based detection technology to get the system working again. This technology is currently being installed for traffic signal detection across the City.

The Council web site – as well as misrepresenting the number of parking spaces available – also lists car parks which closed some years ago.

On a more positive note, the Council has confirmed that all variable message signs in the City centre are now working with the exception of the sign on Fishergate (which is awaiting a spare part).

Message signs working in York City centre again

..but still no car park space availability info

The York Council has repaired most of the Variable Message Signs which guide drivers around the City centre. Those on Blossom Street, Bootham, Clarence Street, Lawrence Street and Heworth Green are working.

The sign on Fishergate is still faulty

All the signs have been displaying warnings about the upcoming temporary closure of Gillygate.

Unfortunately, there has been no tangible progress on reviving the car parking space availability signs or web site.

None of the parking availability signs are working.

The Council’s web site continues to list car parks that have closed and the space availability data is inaccurate.

The Council expected this issue to have been addressed before the end of March, so it is disappointing that the update was not implemented before the busy Easter holiday period began.

Parking problems escalate but Council finally getting empty garages back into use

Residents have complained about the slow progress being made in providing parking lay-bys on some estates in west York. As reported yesterday, the Westfield Ward improvement programme is running nearly 12 months behind scheduled.

One problem area is Dijon Avenue where – because of the estate layout – only carriageway parking is possible for some properties. That space has now run out.

Dijon Avenue is one of the roads due to get an additional parking bay this year (near the amenity area)

Better news, though, on bringing empty garages back into use .

As we reported in February large numbers of Council owned garages in west York were empty.

Some had been unused for over 5 years.

Following work by LibDem Councillor Keith Aspden, the Council agreed to implement repairs where these had been the cause of the voids.

Work was ordered for garages in Bachelor Hill, Marston Ave., TheWandel/Chapelfields Rd., Wains Rd., Sowerby Rd. & Woodlea Ave., Most of these repairs – mainly to doors and brickwork – have now been completed and the garages have either been let or are under offer.

A large number of garages are, however, due to be demolished. This will exacerbate problems particularly in the Windsor Garth area.

Residents will expect the Council to invest in alternative off street parking before any demolition takes place. 

The Council has promised to provide up to date details of vacancies on its web site, to advertise voids on local noticeboards and to engage ward Councillors in re-letting campaigns.

That represents progress, but it remains a concern that it took so long to re-let garages.
One consequence was a loss a loss of around £22,000 a year in rent income.

The current position on vacancies is shown below

 

 

Westfield Ward Committee budget plea

Residents have only until the end of April to suggest uses for this years Westfield Ward Committee delegated budget.

Meanwhile progress on schemes agreed for 2016/17 has been disappointing with the Council web site recording only 14% of the budget having been spent by the end of the year. We understand that the funding – which was heavily oversubscribed – will be carried forward into the current financial year.

Damaged verges could be matrix protected

Among the schemes authorised but not yet implemented are:

  • Painting and refurbishment of street furniture, signs, railings, cycle barriers etc
  • Improved parking arrangements including matrix protection of verges
  • Selective road and path resurfacing
  • Additional flower tubs
  • Trimming overgrown bushes, vegetation and trees
  • Deep cleaning of shopping areas
  • Provision of goalposts on Foxwood park
  • Organised children’s activities in the summer at the Hob Moor all weather play area

During this year estate improvement funds – paid for by Council tenants – are being merged with the Ward Committee budget to allow for additional work to be commissioned.

This change appears to have contributed to the popular monthly skip visits being suspended. We hope that they will be reinstated quickly before fly tipping becomes even more of a problem in the area.

Residents will expect to see progress made quickly to catch up with the backlog of work.

York Council says parking signs will be fixed by end of March

At long last the Council has responded to our questions about the failure of its parking space availability policies.

Following our article published in December, which revealed that the Council’s web site was out of date and that many street signs were faulty, we asked the Council when repair work would be completed.

On line site parking space availability click to access

The on line map was a particular concern as it had not shown parking space availability for over 4 years and some of the listed car parks had actually closed.

After some delay, the Council has now said that the on line map – in line with a new mobile app – “will be updated by the end of March”.

This will include an update to the listed tariffs.

The delays in restoring the parking space availability feature (known as the Car Park Guidance System) is put down to issues with the slow roll out of the Council’s new fibre optic network. Apparently the car parking counting devices are currently being refurbished in time for the March relaunch.

The Council also confirms that all of the Variable Message Signs which can  be seen on the streets of the city were faulty.

The Council says it has

Parking space availability

“taken the novel step of working with a suppler to develop a new ‘technology package’ that can be inserted into the existing sign cases as this is a much cheaper way of renewing the VMS than simply replacing them.

The first four pre-production signs that have been used to test this approach are now operational and under test in the City, and the Heworth Green and Foss Islands Road CPGS signs are part of this group.

Work is now underway to apply this renewal technique to the five remaining City-centre ‘free text’ VMS and these will be back on street and operational by the end of March.

The remaining twenty CPGS ‘Insert’ signs (right) located in the City centre will be refurbished and brought back into use between April and August 2017″.

There are no plans to provide additional VMS signs in the City.

Finally the Council has confirmed that it is working with a number of GPS/SatNav suppliers to include real time parking space availability features on their devices. 

More verges damaged as poor parking takes its toll

A combination of wet weather and poor parking practices has seen several verges in the area churned up.

Among the worst is on on St Stephens Road where part the public footpath has been uprooted making it virtually impassible for pedestrians

damage-to-public-footpath-caused-by-vehicular-access-to-29-st-stephens-road-cropped-1100-9th-feb-2017

Last year the York Council received a report on the problem. The report can be read by clicking here

Among other conclusions the report reveled that it costs £35 per sq mtr to repair damaged verges in the City.

We hope that the authorities will take prompt action to prevent damage of this sort and that proposals to provide more lay-bys in the area are implemented quickly

verge-danage

 

 

Empty garages costing York Council £25,500 a year in lost rent

489 registered on waiting list for garages in west York

Figures released by the York Council confirm that there is a high level of demand for Council garages in west York.

There are waiting lists at most blocks with the most popular being at (little) Green Lane where 24 residents are seeking a garage. Ironically this is a garage area which the Council have badly neglected. It suffers from an uneven forecourt, overgrown boundaries and occasional fly tipping.

One applicant for a garage in Dijon Avenue has been waiting since 2009! 

Waiting list

Waiting list

Despite this the Council records that there are 67 garages currently vacant.

One garage in The Wandle has been unused since 2005!

empty-garages-jan-2017

Part of the problem has been a moratorium on the letting of garages in blocks which may be redeveloped.

This has affected 15 garages in Chaloners Road, which have been empty since 2014, while 21 garages in Newbury Avenue have suffered a similar fate with most empty since 2012. The development plans for Newbury Avenue are still in a state of flux so the Council is losing £500 a month in rent from that block alone.

Proposed new charges for garages have also been announced by the Council (see below)

garage-rents

We think that the Council should be much more proactive in trying to let empty garages. In many areas “on street” parking space is very limited and some residents resort to parking on verges. In turn this causes damage which is both unsightly and expensive to remedy.

The Council web site should be updated regularly with a list of garages that are empty, while Councillors should ensure that a list of garages, which are available, is displayed on local noticeboards

NB. The figures provided cover the Westfield, Acomb, Dringhouses and Holgate Wards. There are a similar number of Council garages on the east of the City