“On line” web guide scrapped
The Council has about 20 signs on arterial roads which, until about 5 years ago, showed how many empty parking spaces there were at each car park.
Such facilities became commonplace on City streets more than a decade ago. They’re still to be found at many tourist destinations.
The FOI response has also revealed that the counters which allow the number of spaces to be identified, will only be reactivate on three of the signs before the end of the financial year.
The Council – after promising that its on line service, which also gives a guide to finding space, would be updated – has now been decommissioned. The number of spaces shown has been incorrect for several years.
Users are now referred to the iTravel web site which contains only a list of car parks (and without an indication of the number of spaces at each).
Commercial sites like https://en.parkopedia.co.uk/ are much better.
There were also hopes that space availability would be linked to GPS systems to allow “Sat Nav” users to optimise their routes. Now it seems that driving round the inner ring road will continue to be the only way of finding a space.
That’s bad news for a Council leadership that claims to be trying to reduce pollution levels in the City centre, by cutting out unnecessary travel. Its also bad news fro some City centre traders who sell goods that require a purchaser to have access to their own transport.
Potential boost for York’s frontline services
- £1.031 million is used to increase capacity in some of York’s crucial frontline services by utilising £620k that has been unspent and a further £411k of unused contingency fund.
- It is also proposed that an extra £1 million is brought forward from the 2019/20 budget to resurface some of the worst roads in the City, as a result of the recent extreme winter weather.
- Creating a new work programme for footpath repairs across the city.
- Establishing an additional team to carry out pothole maintenance.
- Providing new resources for enforcement teams to control dangerous parking, with a special focus on improving safety around schools.
- Allowing residents who have had recycling boxes damaged or stolen to claim two free boxes per year.
- Using the Economic Infrastructure Fund to support high street shopping in Haxby and Acomb.
- Creating a fund to support voluntary and community groups who wish to develop innovative ideas on how to make the best use of our green spaces.
Unanswered questions about cost and sources of funding
The Council has published consultation plans which could dramatically change the area around the entrance to York railway station. The idea revolves around demolishing the Queen Street bridge.
Although the basic plans have been around for more than a decade the Council has now committed to implementation before 2022.
It will however be a very expensive project to implement (demolition of the Queen Street Bridge alone will cost over £7 million) and the consultation papers are largely opaque on costs and sources of funding. Until more financial details emerge, the plans will simply be the latest is a series of artists impressions.
No journey time impact figures are provided.
Still the basic principle of separating pedestrian movements from traffic has to be right while the removal of cars from the portico and Tea Room Square will be welcomed by many. Replacement car parking is promised on the west of the station.
Bus stops will remain “on street” but are rationalised over a longer distance.
Full details, including an explanatory video, can be found by clicking here.
Following consultation, parking restrictions are to be introduced on the following streets;
- St Olave’s Road (x2),
- Moorcroft Road,
- Barbican Mews,
- Farrar Street,
- Pasture Farm Close,
- St Leonard’s Place,
- Windsor Drive / Ripley Gr,
- Dodsworth Avenue (x5),
- Melrosegate (near Harington Ave),
- Redmires Cl. / Ebsay Dr,
- Esk Drive,
- White Rose Way Lay-by
- St James Place
Restrictions planned for the following streets have been modified following resident’s comments.
- Copmanthorpe Ln/ Kirkwell Main Street,
- St Saviourgate R43,
- Clifton Moor industrial estate
- North Field Lane
Following opposition, no changes are now proposed in the following streets Barlow Street, Railway Terrace, Shipton Road / Manor Lane Barley Rise, Strensall (shops) Geldof Road
Details of the schemes can be found by clicking here
Anger as parking problems not addressed by York Council officials
Council officials are recommending that plans to build on the garage site on Newbury Avenue are given the go ahead.
The issue will be discussed at a planning sub committee meeting taking place on 3rd May.
On the previous day (10:15am Wednesday 2nd May), Councillors will be visiting the site. They will no doubt be able to see the parking problems which already exist in the area.
Residents may attend both meetings and can register to speak at the committee meeting. To do so residents should telephone York 551088 before 5:00pm on 2nd May.
The officers report is negligent in at least one way. Objectors have pointed out that the loss of 28 garages – and with them an equivalent number of off street parking spaces – will have a major impact on congestion and parking problems on the estate.
The report offers no response to this concern.
There are already problems when large vehicles and buses try to access the narrow roads. The problems have got worse since the Council stopped new lettings at the garages while the overspill from the Hob Stone development has also hit the Windsor Garth area.
Now the Council is also threatening to redevelop the Windsor House site on Ascot Way. Again it has given little thought to the parking problems that will emerge both during building works, and afterwards.
It could mean that major building works will take place within the next year at both sites at the same time – a recipe for transport chaos with the only available access to the estate being the relatively narrow route from Kingsway West.
Some objectors to the Newbury Avenue plan have demanded that alternative off street parking spaces be provided before demolition starts. They have pointed to several sites where the provision of matrix protection on grassed areas would provide an option while retaining the green appearance of the estate.
Currently an increasing number of vehicles are being parked on these grassed areas anyway – resulting during periods of wet weather in unsightly damage which is expensive to repair.
NB. Efforts are being made to form a new Hob Moor Residents Association in the area. The residents group will focus on opposing the Councils plans for the estate and will seek additional investment to address existing problems.
The old Kingsway Area Residents Association (KARA) was disbanded about 5 years ago.
The Councils auditors are cracking down on Council Tax discounts with 11 cases currently under investigation following a “data matching exercise”. These concern bogus “single person discount” claims.
A report reveals that the auditors had received 58 referrals for potential Council Tax/Non Domestic Rates fraud.
“There are currently 30 ongoing investigations into Council Tax and non domestic rates fraud.
The council has prosecuted two people for council tax fraud this year including the longest running single person discount fraud ever detected at the authority – 17 years.
In addition, 3 people have been cautioned for council tax fraud offences and 5 people have received warnings”.
The fraud team have completed 26 investigations into potential Council Tax Support fraud to date. The team has produced over £13k in savings thus far. There are currently 32 cases under investigation. To date one person has been cautioned and 10 people were issued formal warnings following investigations in this area.
Other areas of concern are
- social care where there are 16 investigations in progress.
- 14 cases of housing fraud – making false claims to secure accommodation – are underway.
- The financial assistance scheme where 19 cases are being investigated
- Parking and blue badge misuse. In 2017/18 the council prosecuted two people, cautioned 12 people and issued 30 warnings for disabled badge or parking permit misuse
- Education – making false statements to gain entry to a school – 2 cases.
The report will be discussed at a meeting taking place on Wednesday
Proposal for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children
A report is being discussed next week which is expected to result in confirmation of plans to close the Windsor House elderly persons home on Ascot Way. The proposal was first discussed in September and now Council officials are reporting back on the discussions that they have had with residents, their relations and staff.
5 residents have recently moved out leaving 17 to find new homes. The Council says that there is currently a good supply of alternative accommodation options available including Glen Lodge.
The care home has 33 staff in total, the majority of who work part time.
The main criticism of the closure relates to timing. Promised modern elderly care facilities on the west of the City will not be available for 2 or 3 years.
Considerable concerns have been expressed by residents of the adjacent Lincoln Court sheltered development.
These self-contained flats which include some communal space, are not included in the closure plans. However, the building has been allowed to deteriorate recently. Window frames are rotten, while an ongoing criticism has been about poor management of parking facilities. Some boundary hedges weren’t cut in the summer, effectively isolated the elderly residents from the rest of the community.
York must do better in the way that it treats its tenants at Lincoln Court. They need to be given
assurances about the future of their flats as well as a date when modernisation works will commence.
The future of the Windsor Garth site
The Council has unveiled what seems to be a caring and imagination use for the Ascot Way site when the existing buildings have been demolished.
The report describes a possible state of the art facility for disabled children
“Should Windsor House close, the site could be redeveloped as the location for the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their Families, for housing or sold.”
Just as society doesn’t always treat the elderly as well as it should, the same could be said of people with disabilities. The principle of the proposed facility would therefore be welcome.
However, there are two significant issues to be addressed before any further development is considered in this neighbourhood.
Traffic congestion and lack of off street parking are now major problems.
They have worsened since 66 additional homes were built on the Hob Stones site and were exacerbated by the Council decision not to let the garages in Newbury Avenue pending the redevelopment of that site. The two issues are linked with inadequate “on street” parking space making access difficult even for the bus service.
There have been calls to introduce a “one way” system or even reopen the second access from Kingsway West.
Whatever the solution may be, one must be found before any development takes place which could further increase vehicle movements in the area.
The start of “Business Week” in the City coincides with the publication of a progress report by “Make it York” (MIY). This is the QUANGO charged with developing the York economy and particularly the visitor sector and markets.
Reading the report, one might think that all was rosy in the garden.
There has been a steady stream of tourists visiting the City this year. They have partly been attracted by a series of festivals while other initiatives like the food court on the market have attracted favourable publicity.
The complementary York BID scheme has produced tangible improvements to the streetscape coupled with imaginative lighting schemes.
However, part of the success in attracting foreign visitors is down to the low value of the pound.
The MIY report is singularly short of figures.
One look around the City centre, at this the busiest shopping period of the year, reveals that key shop units are still empty several years after they become vacant. The pile of empty shipping containers on Parliament Street doesn’t help while the surface of the City’s most popular car park (Castle) is in an appalling condition. Advanced car parking space availability signs – and their “on line” counterparts – haven’t worked for over 4 years.
This all adds to a depressed feel in the “high street”.
The report – to be considered by a Council scrutiny committee on 28th November – considers progress against a limited number of targets. Some issues, like the shortage of labour and key skills, aren’t mentioned.
Nor is any attempt made to assess the impact that BREXIT will have on the City economy over the next five years or more.
We hope that Councillors, faced with a bland report, will ask questions which root out any complacency.