£5 million Tadcaster Road repairs budget?

The government announced yesterday an allocation of £5 million for road maintenance on Tadcaster Road York. The local LibDem leadership promptly issued a statement saying that the money would be spent on “repairs”.

“There will be £5m each for plans to make the key route network in Liverpool more resilient, to begin further maintenance on the Swanswell Viaduct in Coventry, and for road maintenance on the Tadcaster Road in York“. – Boris Johnson

This will come as a surprise to many. Tadcaster Road (between Middlethorpe Drive and Knavesmire Gates) was resurfaced last month at a cost to local taxpayers of £600,000. This brought over a mile of carriageway up to standard.

That left a ½ mile stretch between Middlethorpe Drive and Sim Balk Lane to complete. Even taking into account the Tesco roundabout and adjacent off road cycle track (which does need to be reconstructed because of tree root damage) we wouldn’t expect resurfacing this section to cost more than £300,000.

There are many other carriageways in York which are in a much worse condition.

We hope that the Council will move quickly to confirm that the funding is intended to deal with the congestion black spot near the College entrance. There are unnecessary tail backs along Tadcaster Road at peak times as a result of large numbers of people leaving the college and using the pelican crossing.

College pelican crossing on Tadcaster Road

This is compounded by on carriageway bus stops and traffic lights at the Sim Balk Lane junction.

Even the provision of a footbridge would look like an expensive solution to this problem (and not necessarily a facility that everyone would choose to use).

So some further explanation is needed.

Gale Lane reopens to traffic

Yorkshire Water have completed their water mains repair on Gale Lane which has now reopened to traffic.

Gale Lane reopened.

Tudor Road is still closed and will be for at least another 2 weeks. Still no provision has been made for cyclists. No doubt if this was a street located in the City Centre such neglect would bring a chorus of disapproval!

Tudor Road

Confusion over Gale Lane diversions

Yorkshrie Water works in te area mean that there ae two separate raod clsures within a few hundered metres on each other today.

There are two road closures affecting Gale Lane
Signs on Gale Lane warn that Tudor Road is now closed to traffic. Bus services have been diverted.
Tudor Road will be closed for at least two weeks in connection with works at the Lowfields development. No special arrangements have been made for cyclists who are currently using the footpath.
Gale Lane is also closed at the Foxwood Lane/Thanet Road junction. This work results from a water main burst at the weekend. The diversion is via Askham Lane.

Resurfacing work almost complete in Tadcaster Road area

After being closed for a time yesterday, St Helens Road has reopened. White lining work there has been completed and is also well advanced on Tadcaster Road.

Both carriageways have been resurfaced.

The contract is expected to be completed tomorrow on schedule although some bad weather is forecast (heavy rain).

Prompt response from York Council

Cornlands Road/Askham Lane

A York Council manager has responded promptly to reports of Epicormic (lower trunk) growth on some trees in the Cornlands Road/Tudor Road area.

Such growth can cause sight line problems for drivers.

The manager says the branches will be trimmed.

Dumping is a problem at some empty properties.

We’ve reported a similar issue with a tree at the junction of Cornlands Road and Askham Lane.

We also received a prompt response from Cllr Demise Craghill who has executive responsibility for housing in the City.

She was sympathetic to our complaints about delays in bringing empty Council houses back into use and promised to pursue two long standing issues in the Foxwood Lane area.

Morrell Court

Lack of action to level potholes on the Morrell Court access road has now been registered as a formal complaint with the Council. The defects were first reported 6 months ago.

Elsewhere black bags have been left next to the recycling bins at the Acomb Wood Drive shopping area.

We have asked for them to be removed.

Acomb Wood Drive shopping area

Council report reveals over 60% wanted Bishopthorpe Road reopening

Council report 1st June 2020 Page 1
Council report 1st June 2020 Page 2

The Council has finally published the report which it says supports the decision to keep the southbound lane of the Bishopthorpe Road closed for at least another 2 months. The report became public yesterday (6th June) , some six days after it was tabled for a “behind closed doors” decision meeting.

It reveals that there is a lot of opposition to the Councils policy including a 1600 signature “on line” petition.

Both it and email representations were ignored by the Council.

No consideration was given to changing the hours or scale of the closure and no consideration was given to implementing a shorter diversion route.

There is no evidence that stakeholders – including traders and those living on the diversion route – were consulted about options.

The report talks about additional stores opening next week “resulting in increasing queue lengths”. It omits to point out that these are located on the west side of the road where properties have a forecourt.

Resurfacing works on Nunnery Lane will take place from Monday 15 June for seven nights, working between 7.30pm and 5am Monday to Friday only. This will mean an additional diversion for drivers, including buses, of around 1.5 miles via City centre streets.

Bishopthorpe Road closure set to continue for at least 2 months

Another behind closed doors decision by York Council

With almost breath taking arrogance, the York Council has issued a statement saying that the closure of the southbound lane at Bishopthorpe Road shops will continue for another 2 months.

There has been no debate about other options and a large petition – which asked for the road to be reopened – has been ignored.

No report on the success or otherwise of what the Council describes as a “trial” has been published.

One of the earliest criticisms of the scheme was that the Council had failed to identify how the success or otherwise of the project would actually be judged. It simply referred, rather loftily, to social distancing and government policy.

In reality, the array of bollards has made little difference to social distancing while the contraflow bike lane has introduced another, unwelcome, hazard for cyclists. There has been no consideration of opening up parallel routes (Darborough Street/Cherry Street & St Benedict’s Road) which would at least have provided a much shorter diversion

Bishopthorpe Road lane closure. Petition calls for lane to be reopened.

Nor has the opportunity been taken, during a relatively quiet period, to test an off peak pedestrianisation of the shops area between 10:30am and 4:00pm. Such a scheme would also have aligned with the governments policies while also providing much more room for social distancing. The impacts both economic and on transportation would have provided some real food for thought.

Too late now though, as imminent road works in the Nunnery Lane area are set to cause even bigger traffic congestion problems with the bus services one likely early victim. Works on the nearby South Bank flood alleviation scheme (subject to a planning committee decision next week) will further add to transport woes in the area.

Not content with increasing pollution levels on Scarcroft Road the new diversion via the City centre will add over a mile to some journeys.

The Council says that residents can Email them with their views. The address is Bishrd@york.gov.uk

We doubt that many will bother. Rather the pressure for the Council to adopt an open and inclusive approach to decision making will mount. The Council leadership needs to move out of its bunker mentality and start to re-engage with the local community.

Kent Davison Selina Meyer Gary Cole GIF | Gfycat

We saw in 2015 what happened when a particularly stubborn administration tried to force the Lendal Bridge closure on an unwilling population.

The same will happen again unless polices and attitudes change and change quickly.

One law for……

Perhaps the actions that have attracted the most criticism during lockdown nationally have been those where politicians and senior officials have been seen to break their own rules. Several have been forced to resign although, at least, one has famously not.

Not surprisingly the words and actions of their local counterparts are also now under increasing scrutiny. Tomorrow some schools will reopen while those that have carried on educating the children of Key Workers can expect an influx of additional pupils. Opinions are mixed about the timing of this move and, indeed,  the return of more people to their workplaces.

MPs have returned to Westminster albeit in a “social distancing” respecting way.

So why have the City’s democratic institutions not been revived? Apart from a couple of anaemic virtual Q & A sessions, local leaders seem to have preferred to issue the occasional policy edict.

They have seemed reluctant to submit to scrutiny.

The Councils scrutiny and audit functions – led by opposition Councillors – have been ineffective for many years, with participants trying to score political points while exploring their own self interest obsessions.

Never has there been a greater need for challenge than now when residents have so many real concerns about what has happened and what might happen if a second wave of COVID infections hits the City. Other areas are already making preparations

It seems extraordinary that City bosses can order teachers and children back to the classroom while they themselves hide behind the safety of virtual reality meetings. While the need for full scale Council meetings may be small at the present time, there is an urgent requirement for all decisions to be preceded with  good quality, informed reports. Residents should be able to hear the arguments for and against controversial decisions like the Bishopthorpe Road contraflow cycle lane.

Many paths are now obstructed

Some Council services have actually improved during lockdown.

Street cleaning standards are high and pothole reports are being dealt with more quickly. This, though, has tended to highlight the awful state of many carriageways and paths – in itself the most likely reason (together with path obstructions) why many, who have taken up walking and cycling  in  their leisure times, may now return to their cars.

Some empty council houses have attracted dumping

There has also been an increase in the number of long term empty Council houses with some homes having become dumping grounds. The repair and re-letting service needs to get into gear. They can follow the lead of  those estate agents who have successfully adapted to incorporate social distancing into their processes.

Whether some Councillors actually “get this” is unclear. They recently publish a letter saying that they estimated “that there would be over 700 (coronavirus) deaths in the City by October”.

So far there have been 126 deaths at York hospital, with a similar total in the local community. 

If another 500 deaths are expected, why on earth are we relaxing the lockdown?