Behind closed doors York Council decision rules out new parking curbs near Gale Lane/Front Street junction

Dozens of traffic and parking decisions affecting whole City taken at secret session
Gale Lane Front Street click to enlarge

Gale Lane Front Street click to enlarge

The Council has published a report reviewing parking arrangements near the Gale Lane/Front Street junction.

The report follows complaints about obstructions being caused to traffic generally, and bus services in particular, by vehicles parking on the carriageway and adjacent footpaths. Some of the problems were apparently being caused by delivery vans visiting the Gale Farm surgery.

The request for action were turned down at a secret meeting with the reports only being published publicly after decisions had already been taken.

Sadly this continues the practice of preventing residents from making representations, before decisions are taken, started in 2011. Despite public claims from the Council Leadership about their commitment to open government, this practise has still not been changed.BehindClosedDoors 2015

There is really no reason why agendas and reports can’t be published at least a week before a meeting takes place. This would give affected residents an opportunity to write to the Council giving their views, if they chose to.

Changes to traffic arrangements in every ward in the City were considered by the same meeting (and not pre publicised).

Click the links below for details

Condition of Castle car park causes storm

Castle short stay car park

Castle short stay car park

Visitors to York s best used public car park next to Clifford’s Tower have criticised the lack of maintenance of its surface.

The number of potholes have increased over recent years with many now posing a hazard for drivers when they leave their vehicles.

There are also widespread problems with “ponding”. Surface water is gathering in increasingly large pools.

The arrival of frost and ice over next few months may prompt a lethal cocktail of problems unless the York Council acts quickly to, at least, patch the worst areas.

The car park is the Councils biggest money earner with charges bringing in nearly £1 million a year. There are 318 spaces at the car park with 31 now reserved for blue badge holders.

Potholes on Castle car park

Potholes on Castle car park

Some drivers have criticised the decision of the last Council to increase the number of disabled spaces which can be used for an unlimited period of time by blue badge holders.. Many of the spaces are rarely used.

The car park forms part of the area blighted by indecision on Piccadilly/Coppergate redevelopment schemes.

A report on options for the area – now dubbed the “southern gateway” – was due to be considered by the Council this month but was hastily withdrawn from the Council’s forward programme a few weeks ago.

It is now scheduled to be considered at the end of October. It is expected to recommend changes to car parking arrangements in the area

Even after a development masterplan has been agreed,  it is likely to be several more years before any development actually takes place in the Castle car park area


Marygate car park income plummets by £114,000

Freedom of Information (FOI) response confirms that the former Labour Council did not record number of faults reported on the barrier equipment

Marygate car park

Marygate car park


An FOI response has confirmed what many feared. The introduction of barrier controls at the Marygate car park has seen the number of drivers paying to park there reduce, resulting in a substantial fall in income.

  • The income received by the Council in the 12 months since the barriers were installed has been £556,442,
  • In the equivalent period, before the barriers replaced “pay and display”, income had been £672,547.

In the past the Council has used surplus income from parking to invest in the maintenance of highways infrastructure. If that income is no longer available then transport subsidies – for services as wide ranging as off peak bus services, car park maintenance and road repairs – will have to come direct from taxpayers.

 In turn, this is likely to lead to a further fall in the funding available for other essential services.

The last Council was also criticised for selling off the Haymarket car park for a fraction of its real value. This move lost the Council  another £200,000 a year in car parking income.

The reduced use of City centre car parks has, of course, been influenced by other factors. Charges have almost doubled during the last 4 years while successful additional park and ride facilities have been provided at Poppleton and Askham Bar.

But the failure of the Council to accept that the barrier system adopted or Marygate involved major reliability risks is a contributory factor.

It has also been revealed that the last Labour run Council did not record the number of faults reported on the Marygate equipment. Usually the barriers would “fail” in the open position effectively allowing free parking so it is perhaps not surprising that the Council has not received any compensation claims for mechanical failures.

Since May there have been seven occasions where barrier failures have occurred at Marygate.

In the same period a further seven faults have developed on the ticket issuing machines.

The Council has not retained records of how long it took to fix each fault. It does however say that the costs of repairs were covered by the suppliers warranty with “approximately £300 spent on spare parts”.

The change to barrier control was part of a trial aimed at removing the pressure on visitors to return to their cars before their “pay and display” ticket expired.  However the introduction of “pay by text” effectively addressed this issue as drivers are now able to buy additional parking time remotely using their smart phones.

The £100,000 cost of making the change now looks to have been a major folly with the number of occupied parking spaces having actually fallen.

Help needed to foster severely disabled children in York

FosteringA new phase of recruiting foster carers in York is rolling out this month with an emphasis on the need for foster placements for severely disabled children.

City of York Council has vacancies for short breaks carers to help children and young people with disabilities, as part of a regular and supported package of care for them and their family.

The breaks can be anything from a few hours to a few days or up to a month, for children with a permanent and substantial impairment or illness. Carers are supported to involve the children to take part in family or local activities, make new friends and gain independence. This gives families a break from caring plus the reassurance that their child is safe and enjoying positive new experiences.

People with room in their home, hearts and schedule for these special breaks are trained, fully supported and equipped throughout. Many decide to offer short breaks after having had experience of caring for their own or other children with a disability or having had a professional role in education, social care or nursing.

These contract foster carers are paid to provide a series of short breaks during the year for up to seven different children and are allocated time off to recharge their own batteries, as part of their remuneration package.

The council’s Short Breaks team has immediate vacancies and is eager to hear from committed individuals who believe that they have the spare time, energy and commitment to offer short breaks fostering in their own home.

The council’s Fostering Team is also keen to recruit people interested in offering a caring and loving home for children who are looked after away from their families. Short time fostering – up to 12 months – and longer term fostering – until young people reach adulthood – is needed, especially for those who can care for teenagers and young people with additional needs. The remuneration, training and support is substantial.

Jo Clarke, a York foster carer and forensic psychologist, said: “I started my fostering career when my daughter was six. We provided short breaks to a six-year-old girl who had special needs and was living at home with her family. It felt amazing to be able to offer this support to the family who might otherwise have had to consider residential care for their daughter. Bizarrely sometimes the more challenging it was, the more worthwhile it felt, because you realised how much the family needed a break. It was also hugely beneficial to my daughter, who has grown up with a real understanding of disability and a much stronger appreciation of what she’s got. This was such an overwhelmingly positive experience, that we decided to take another step and now we are full time, permanent foster carers to a young man who came to us four years ago, when he was eight.  My daughter says fostering has been the best thing ever and has shaped who she has become. For me, I can’t imagine any job more rewarding.”

For an informal chat about short breaks and fostering, please contact or call 01904 555699 or please go to

Free evening car parking on 19th November

There will be no parking charges on the evening of Thursday 19th November when the City launches its Christmas activities programme.BehindClosedDoors 2015

The concession represents a step back from the situation which applied prior to 2011 when free parking was allowed on each late night shopping day in the run up to Christmas. As such it is likely to be of limited value to those retailers who are being urged to stay open until at least 8:00pm.

The decision is expected to cost the York Council around £2000 in lost income.

Unfortunately once again the decision was taken behind closed doors with the agenda and background papers for the meeting only being published after the decsion had been taken

1000 year wait for Monkgate parking changes blamed on Traffic Penalty Tribunal adjudicator

Longer consultation periods are now in operation in York for changes to traffic orders.

1000 years wait

The move follows a further delay in getting the traffic adjudicator to release details of the  result of the Councils appeal against a ruling that fines imposed on Coppergate were unlawful.

In a behind closed doors decision the Council has now agreed to put off until after the election a decision on whether to remove some parking spaces on Monkgate. They are understood to be interfering with cyclists using adjacent cycle lanes.

The background papers, which were released after the decision had been taken, suggest that the proposed charges were first suggested in 1014.

That was the year that the first traffic adjudicator Æthelred the Unready returned from exile in Normandy to reclaim the throne of England.

91% increase in car parking charges in York in just 4 years

The York Council is warning drivers that there will be substantial increases in car parking charges from Wednesday.

Last min policy flip green

They result from a Green Party budget amendment which added 10p per hour to charges.

They are in addition to the huge increases imposed by Labour since they took office in 2011.

In total some York residents will pay a 91% increase in car parking charges  compared to 2011.

Although the Council has yet to publicise the new charges on its web site in a media release they say,

“From Wednesday 1 April there will be a number of changes to City of York Council owned car parks, on street parking and season permits across the city, including:

The free-parking initiative will come to a close: this 13 month initiative was developed as a result of work between the council and City Team York, the city’s Retail Forum, the Federation of Small Businesses and key city-centre businesses will end on March 31.

The standard rate of car park and on-street charges: will increase by 10p per hour to vehicles not displaying a Minster Badge (an optional resident parking permit). For those that have a Minster Badge the 10p increase will not affect them.

Residents who are signed up to the Minster Badge scheme:  will benefit from an additional FREE hour in car parks on Friday and Saturday evening (which moves from 5pm instead of 6pm). Valid in selected car parks only.

Pay-by-phone option (in selected car parks) remains 10p cheaper per hour than the standard rate.

Season parking tickets: An increase of approximately four per cent”.

For more details about parking in York visit 

York Council set to close large number of back lanes

Dozens of new parking restrictions also being rushed through before Council election called

Behind closed doors logo

Behind closed doors decisions were taken last week to close seven back lanes and alleyways in the City.

In addition new parking restrictions were proposed for sixteen streets across a wide area

They include (click for details)

  1. Proposal to restrict public rights over alleyways between Curzon Terrace and Albemarle Road, and Knavesmire Crescent and Curzon Terrace (Micklegate Ward) None of the Ward Councillors responded to consultation on this plan which attracted a large number of objections
  2. Proposal to restrict public rights over alleyway between Brunswick Street/South Bank Avenue, (Micklegate Ward)
  3. Proposal to restrict public rights over alleyway between Kyme Street, Baile Hill Terrace and Newton Terrace, (Micklegate Ward)
  4. Proposal to restrict public rights over alleyways between Barbican Road/Willis Street, Willis Street/Gordon Street and Gordon Street/Wolsley Street, (Fishergate Ward)
  5. Residents’ Priority Parking Area in Abbey Street Director overruled a large number of objections including a request for a public decision meeting
  6. A19 South Transport Corridor – Phase 1
  7. Fishergate Hartoff Street parking restrictions
  8. Guildhall George Street & Park Grove Parking restrictions
  9. Haxby South Lane Parking restrictions
  10. Heworth Second/Main Avenue, St John’s Walk. Wood Street & Dodsworth Ave parking restrictions
  11. Holgate Poplar Street (rejected), Northcote Avenue, Yarburgh Grove Parking restrictions
  12. Hull Road Milton Street Parking restrictions (rejected)
  13. Huntington Willow Glade, Darwin Close & Brandsby Grove Parking restrictions
  14. Osbaldwick Hull Road Parking (Deferred for 1 year) restrictions
  15. Skelton Armstong Way Parking restrictions
  16. Strensall The Village Parking restrictions
  17. Westfield Kingsthorpe Parking restrictions
  18. Summary Annual Review of Traffic Regulation Order Requests
  19. Temporary staff for Trading Standards

York “free car parking” offer to be abandoned on 31st March

The scheme was introduced last year but was criticised for being complicated, applying to only some car parks and only for a limited number of days & hours.

Another Alexander project abandoned

Traders have confirmed that the offer – which cost £300,000 to subsidise – has had little effect on the number of customers that they have been getting.

A plan to pay for the scheme, using funds from a Business Improvement District organisation, appears to have fallen through

The scheme was the controversial brainchild of the former Council Leader James Alexander who was struggling to cope with traders anger in the wake of the Lendal bridge closure fiasco as well as fears that the new John Lewis store at Monks Cross would pull shoppers away from the City centre.

It will be a “double whammy” for visitors to the City centre from 1st April as a proposal by Green Councillors, to raise hourly parking charges by 10p, will also kick in.

Parking changes from 1 April will also effect on street parking and season permits across the city, 

• The standard rate of car park and on-street charges: will increase by 10p per hour to vehicles not displaying a Minster Badge (an optional resident parking permit). 

• Residents who are signed up to the Minster Badge scheme:  will benefit from an additional FREE hour in car parks on Friday and Saturday evening (which moves from 5pm instead of 6pm). Valid in selected car parks only.

• Pay-by-phone option (in selected car parks) remains 10p cheaper per hour than the standard rate.

• Season parking tickets: An increase of approximately four per cent.

From the end of March the council will also be installing new tariff boards in all council car parks to display the new charges.

For more details about parking in York visit 

Travelling in York? Plan journeys in advance by using the online Journey Planner at

Drop in car parking income bad news for York Council Taxpayers

“Meddling” by Labour Cabinet blamed for £400,000 shortfall in next years car parking income.

Car parking income click to enlarge

Car parking income click to enlarge

Fewer drivers are paying to use York’s car parks since controversial changes were made by the Labour lead Council. Labour famously doubled some charges when they came to office in 2011 and then tried to mitigate the effects with a series of ill-considered marketing trials.

The biggest drop predictably comes at the, now closed, Haymarket car park where nearly £150,000 a year in income has been lost. The site was sold by Labour two years ago as part of a much bigger land deal which also saw the former ambulance station and Peasholme hostel sites in Hungate included in the sale package. The sale to an insurance company, at the depth of the recession, bought in little over £2 million; less than half its present day value.

The parking income figures were revealed to members of a scrutiny committee which is chaired by Cllr Andrew Waller.

The reports also revealed that only around £80,000 has been paid by drivers for the, £20 a time,  new style Minster badges which entitle users to free evening parking and day time discounts. This suggests that sales levels were exaggerated last year. Over 30,000 of the old (free) badges were in circulation

The cost of the “free parking” days is put at £250,000 a year. It is unclear whether the Council will be able to afford to continue the scheme into the new budget year.

The introduction of barrier controls at the Marygate car park may have contributed to a £128,000 fall in income at that site.

The only car park performing significantly above financial expectations is Esplanade (which has been designated as “short stay” for several years now).

“On street” parking income is performing above target, but accounts for less than 10% of the Councils income.

The Council has now been forced to reduce its forecast of car parking income for the forthcoming year by £400,000 meaning that savings on other public services will have to be made.

The Councils decision to tinker with car parking charging arrangements has proved to be damaging to the City.

We hope that they will allow things to stabilise over the next few years.