Car park signage criticised

St. Leonards Place car park

St. Leonards Place car park

Some motorists have been confused by the signing at the entrance to the – now privately run – car park on St Leonards Place. Several have thought that the entrance had been moved as part of the Exhibition Square refurbishment, although this isn’t the case.

For a Conservation Area the signs are borderline intrusive anyway.

Users of the car park find that they are expected to pay up to £12 to park. Unfortunately the operators – a Leeds based company – allow only cash payments for tickets.

Parking machines at St. Leonards Place car park. click to enlarge

Parking machines at St. Leonards Place car park. click to enlarge

It is several years since the Council made credit card and “pay by phone” options available at its central car parks.

There is also no parking available for those with disabled badges although it is the most central facility for those accessing most of the shops in the city centre.

This is a good location for cycle parking facilities and it would have been worth the Council continuing to operate the car park facilities until the apparently endless saga over the future of the adjacent office block is finally settled.

There is no sign of work commencing on site despite the council announcing a development scheme almost 3 years ago.

The Council is also remaining tight lipped about the planned hotel at the Barbican site which is now 4 years behind schedule.

York Council heading for £1.3 million overspend?

A report being considered next week suggests that the York Council could over spend its budget this year by £1.3 million.

Coppergate - York Council failure, to win appeal against unlawful fines issue, could plunge it into a financial crisis

Coppergate – York Council failure, to win appeal against unlawful fines issue, could plunge it into a financial crisis

The – much delayed – half year report does not include any deficit which may arise from outstanding issues on the Coppergate/Lendal bridge fine refund policy.

Other areas of concern identified in the report include

  • Waste There is a forecast overspend of £98k due to lower than budgeted income from commercial waste, £100k shortfall in income from garden waste subscription, £100k due to the forecast shortfall in dividend from Yorwaste and £233k pressure at Household Waste and Recycling Centres primarily due to lower than expected income from charges
  • Car Parking There is a continued shortfall from parking income (£408k) and “ongoing monitoring will be required to assess the impact of the current parking initiatives, including the charges for Minster Badges, the free parking introduced in late June and pay-on-exit at Marygate”.
  • Social Care There is a significant projected overspend of £864k within the Elderly Persons Homes budgets.

A separate report identifies problems with the Councils capital investment programme.

Failure to move ahead with the reuse of the Guildhall means that £350,000 of “critical” repairs will now be needed.

And a major problem is arising with the Councils existing Elderly Persons Homes. These were supposed to have closed by now having been replaced by the new care village at Lowfields. But that project is 3 years behind schedule and the existing buildings will need to be patched up at a cost of £500,000!

 The report ominously warns “existing EPH’s are currently in need of renovation, some aspects of which are threatening their ability to pass Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection”.

Only 7076 new Minster badges sold

98 residents fined for using old badges in evening

Only a small proportion of the 30,000 old style Minster badge holders have opted to pay £20 to get a new badgeMinster Badge

The latest figures released by the York Council suggest that 7076 of the badges have been sold

The badges entitle holders to free parking at Council car parks in the evening.

98 residents have incurred Penalty Charge Notices for relying on the old style badge during September.

It seems though that some are opting to pay the £2 a night evening charge. Evening car park income has increased since last year

  • 2013 £34,042.05
  • 2014 £40,754.50

No assessment has yet been made on the effects of the increased charges on the evening economy.

NB. The Minster badge also entitles users to pay lower day time car parking charges.

Parking income problems mount for York Council

Marygate

It looks like the installation of barriers at the Marygate car park – which cost taxpayers £100,000 – has reduced Council income by around £35,000 (20%) over the last 3 months.

Marygate-car-park-equipment-768x1024

Income from Marygate Car Park in the 13 week period from 30th June to 28th September totalled £142,000 in 2014/15.

The equivalent figure for 2013/14 was £177,000.

Those expecting the blame to be placed on faulty barriers – they have been jammed in the raised position on a number of occasions recently – will be disappointed.

The York Council says,

“There have been some minor faults which, as with all newly introduced schemes, is to be expected whilst the system beds in. These have been dealt with expeditiously with minimal disruption to the fee-paying public”. (!)

It is the latest in a series of parking management blunders since Labour took control of the Council in 2011.

Most residents have faced a 100% increase in the amount that they pay to park while the Council sold off the Haymarket car park for a fraction of its true value in the depth of the recession.

Minster Badges

In response to a question tabled by the Liberal Democrats at the last Council meeting, Labour have admitted that only 6,300 of the new £20 Minster badges have been sold so far.

Over 30,000 of the old style badges were in circulation.

Minster Badge

A Minster badge is necessary to qualify for free evening parking. It also entitles users to a discount on day time parking fees.

The relatively low take up of the badges suggests that the charging scheme may be discouraging residents from visiting and shopping in the City centre.

“Free” parking

The Labour Councillor with responsibility for car parking in York has admitted that he doesn’t know how many drivers are taking advantage of the “free” car parking available at a limited number of locations on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

More worryingly, he says that the impact of the scheme on the Councils car parking account is impossible to calculate because of other factors such as the opening of the new Park and Ride site at Poppleton.

The Council are promising to check the vehicle counters at individual car parks over the next few weeks to try to get some idea of the impact that the – very expensive – scheme is having.

Subjectively it does appear that the morning rush hour has been busier over the last couple of months with journey times increasing.

When introduced, the free parking scheme was criticised by many as encouraging more vehicles onto the road during the morning peak period.

Marygate car park barrier problems to be questioned.

With the barriers at the Marygate car park apparently out of action again, Liberal Democrat Councillor Keith Hyman has tabled two questions for the Council meeting on Thursday.

Marygate-car-park-equipment-768x1024

The £100,000 scheme was controversial from the start with no provision being made for card payments.

Currently the barriers are raised allowing free car parking.

It is unclear what damage this is doing to the Councils income or whether Labour Councillors will be forced to increase charges at other car parks to make up for any deficit.

The two tabled questions read:

  • (xxv)    “How does the income derived from the Marygate car park, since it had a barrier system installed, compare to the equivalent period last year?”
  • (xxvi) “How many faults have occurred on the new barrier/ticketing installation at Marygate car park and does the Cabinet Member judge the barrier system to have been a success?”

The same cabinet member will be asked to reveal how many drivers have taken advantage of the “free” parking made available, on 3 mornings a week, at some of York’s car parks.

Morning congestion levels have increased recently on routes such as Water End and Fulford Road, with the Councils decision to encourage more rush hour car journeys using the free parking incentive being partly to blame.

It is hoped that the impact on other car parks – and Council income – will be revealed.

Minster Badge change

No reminder notices in York car parks

We said on Saturday that the York Council had to ensure that all old style Minster Badge owners were reminded that their stickers were invalid from today (1st September 2014).

Minster Badge

After the fiasco of the poor signage on Lendal bridge, we expected that the Council would have gone to extreme  lengths to ensure that notices were posted in car parks reminding drivers that only Labour’s £20 new style badge would entitle users to a discount ( and free evening parking).

However, it appears that the advice has gone unheeded as there were NO warning signs displayed in York’s most popular car park (Castle) this morning.

No warning notices in Castle Car Park about Minster Badge change

No warning notices in Castle Car Park about Minster Badge change

Those seeking to pay charges using the mobile phone and text services likewise receive no reminder of the change.

How many residents have received penalty notices may become clear in a few days time.

However it is likely that the parking adjudicator may once again be faced with a large volume of complaints from York – possibly leading to the introduction of a costly refund process.

We forecast – 25,000 unhappy York motorists on Monday

Only 3382 new Minster Badges sold.

Less than 10% of current users have been prepared to pay £20 for Labours new style parking discount badge

Minster Badge

The new badge is mandatory from Monday when the old blue free stickers – issued by the former LibDem run Council – will no longer be recognised by parking wardens.

Many traders fear that the message has not got through to shoppers and that some may be alienated if they receive a parking fine.

Another Lendal Bridge fiasco may be in the making. The quality of the warning signage about the change in the car parks on Monday is likely to come under intense scrutiny by residents.

Of over 30,000 current Minster Badge holders in York, only 3382 have so far bought a new Minster Badge. The badge was an initiative by Labour to try to bridge a £200,000 shortfall on parking income.

But it looks like it will make things worse, rather than better. Take up has been well below expectations and if motorists choose out of City centre retail parks in which to do their shopping, then the car parking account will be hit even harder..

Without the new badge, York residents will have to pay the same parking rates as visitors – meaning a hefty increase

Under the LibDems, in 2011 residents paid £1.10 per hour to park at most City centre car parks (those designated as “standard stay”). Residents will now see that increase by a staggering 82% to £2.00.

Even worse may be the effect on the City centre evening economy where the “free after 6:00pm” parking concession will also be lost.

Earlier in the year, a large petition was collected by residents who wanted to see things left as they were.

With the next Council elections only 8 months away, it is likely that the Liberal Democrats will become the first party to pledge to reintroduce the free Minster badge for residents.

In addition any regular visitor to the City should be able to buy one of the new style badges – in recognition of the money that they inject into the City centre economy and the jobs that it supports.

Another day, another missed deadline

Continuing road works, lane closures and car park construction at Poppleton Bar 1st August 2014

Continuing road works, lane closures and car park construction at Poppleton Bar 1st August 2014

Poppleton – Road works continue

Despite absolute guarantees given at the last Council meeting -that the A59/A1237 road works and Park and Ride construction would be finished by the end of July – work is still in full swing today.

There are lane restrictions, big tail backs on the A59 and temporary traffic signals.

Footpaths have still to be completed and there is no sign of the permanent traffic lights which were due to be installed at the Park and Ride site junction.

The Park and Ride site itself is also far from finished.

The Council can’t blame poor weather for a project which is now over 4 months behind its scheduled (final) completion date.

Vacant spaces at York car parks

Still big gaps in Council information

Last year the York Council stopped providing information on its web site about the number of vacant parking spaces at its City Centre car parks.

York Live web site click to access

York Live web site click to access

It promised that the information link would be reinstated by “May”.

2 months later and the information is still not being provided for the most popular car parks like Nunnery Lane and Marygate.

The responsible cabinet member refused to apologies at a recent Council meeting for the delays.

He said people could use social media to find out where to park (actually none of the social media system provided real time parking availability information)

NB. The Council has also been unable to keep many of the on street “Variable Message Signs” in a good state of repair.

Marygate car park barrier scheme cost £100,000

Labour back down and agree to fit card reader payment option by “early autumn”

The Council will fit a credit/Charge car payment option at the new Marygate pay on exit machines.

Marygate car park charges

Although they blame a “national issue with chip and pin devices” the reality is that the Council forgot to include the option in the original design specification.

The new system should not have been brought into service until a choice of payment options was available.

Card payments can be made at other City centre car parks like Piccadilly.

NB. Only about 1000 of the new £20 Minster badges have been sold so far.

Each of York’s 80,000 households is entitled to a badge which replaces the current free badge which was issued when the LibDems were in control of the Council.

There are around 30,000 active Minster Badges currently in use in the City.

From September, anyone without a badge will have to pay the full rate to park during the day and will also lose the right to free evening parking.