Micklegate Bar closed from June

Micklegate Bar

As part of a £1.5 million restoration scheme to preserve and protect York’s medieval city walls – announced by City of York Council last month – road closures will be needed in Micklegate to allow the restoration works to be carried out safely.

The scheme will involve replacing Micklegate Bar’s roof and guttering by stripping this all back, replacing the timberwork and installing stainless steel strengthening ‘shoes’ to roof beams.

Two new walkway gates will also be installed. This will allow the Henry VII Experience museum to remain open when the bar walls themselves are closed. During the works both stairways allowing people access onto the walls will remain open to pedestrians at all times.

Micklegate retailers and businesses were consulted in advance about the works and invited to attend meetings with the council. Letters were also sent to all premises in the area.

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Electric vehicle recharging wrangle in York

There is confusion today about whether private vehicles can access the rapid recharging points at Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar.

The points were funded from a government(OLEV)  scheme but are largely used by the  First electric Park and Ride buses.

It appears that electric car drivers have been turned away from the points although they are shown as available on a vehicle charging “app”. The Councils iTravel web site says that vehicle charging points can be found on this map (click)

Apparently the Monks Cross rapid charge points have been recorded on the National Charge Point Register has having restricted access for cars. The Council says that a third party app has been advertising these as ‘available’ which has caused confusion for local EV drivers.

In response to an FOI enquiry the Council has confirmed that the dedicated chargers were used on 1157 occasions, using 22025 kWh of energy, during the first quarter of 2017

The Council says,

“the Monks Cross Park&Ride supervisors are able to permit cars to charge where this does not impact the bus service and this does happen occasionally however the buses have charge point priority as they have no viable alternative location. For cars, the nearest rapid charger is one mile away at The Sports Village and EV drivers are recommended to use these facilities instead”

.Range  anxiety is one of the main reasons for the slow take up of electric cars. Being certain that a charging  point will be available is of major concern for drivers.

Electric vehicle public rapid charging points

There are other charging points in York many of which are located on car parks and at hotels

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.

£2 million investment in York’s streetlights

Thousands of York’s ageing streetlights are set for an overhaul through a £2million investment by City of York Council.

The council has a responsibility to maintain over 21,000 streetlights including 5,500 concrete columns across the city.

However, many lights were installed over 50 years ago in the 60s through to the 80s and are at the end of their natural life and are failing to contribute to carbon reduction targets.

Previous schemes have replaced around 1,000 steel and concrete columns and almost half of the city’s streetlights (10,000) with new ‘white lights’ or LED technology.

Approval was given back in February to invest a further £2million council capital funding into a new four-year programme of works to enable the remainder of the lights to be replaced.

These works are now set to get underway to install 2,000 concrete and steel columns and fund structural maintenance checks for 12,000 light columns city wide. All replacement columns with old sodium lights will also be replaced with new white light LEDs.
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Improvements to reduce congestion on the A19 south at Crockey Hill

City of York Council is asking for comments on new proposals which could help reduce congestion on one of York’s busiest roads.

The scheme will reduce the average time taken to travel on the A19 South through the Fulford interchange junction and down the A19 to Crockey Hill by up to five minutes. The length of southbound queues will also be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

Over 20,000 vehicles use this route every day and at times over 1,200 vehicles use the junction every hour in one direction, which often causes queues and sections of the A19 to block.

As a result of so many vehicles using this road there are often large queues of traffic particularly southbound during busy times in the evening. This can cause what is known as a ‘pinch point’ or queues of traffic at the Crockey Hill traffic lights (junction of the A19 and Wheldrake Lane). This rapidly backs up to the A19/A64 Fulford Interchange which causes congestion on the A64 off slip-road and on the A19 in Fulford.

The scheme will help address this problem and supports phase 1 which was carried outover the summer of 2015. This helped to reduce congestion and improve public transport journey times and reliability northbound at the busy A19/A64 junction (near the Designer Outlet).

However, for southbound traffic going out of York, the problem of traffic queues in the evening remains.  Phase two will help to ease the build up of congestion along this busy section of road, reducing the risk of blocking the A19/A64 junction and improving public transport reliability and journey times.

Funded entirely from the Department for Transport (DfT) pinch point fund, the scheme is estimated to cost approximately £1million.


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Disabled social care customers asked to make own transport arrangements in York

184 adult customers requiring transport to reach their social care destinations are still heavily reliant on CYC commissioned support. Over 90% of these  are adults with learning disabilities (travelling to centres such as Brunswick Organic Nursery, Greenworks, Pine Trees etc). A small number of older (Long Term Team) customers use commissioned transport to access day care services on a regular basis.

 

Approximately two thirds of these customers are currently being transported via an in-house fleet of “rapidly ageing” vehicles, whilst one third are transported by shared or individual taxis via a CYC contract with Streamline Taxis.

A Council media release says, “Whilst various options have been considered Councillors are being asked to agree that the council adopts a personalised approach whereby every adult customer is offered a direct payment to make their own transport arrangements, ensuring that transportation is flexible, accessible and tailored to the needs of individuals and communities”.

This is similar to the system introduced a few years ago where the majority of users of home care services are given money to pay for the own choice of provider. It proved to be a popular choice.

If agreed, the changes will see adult customers being offered a transport direct payment and will be able to choose from a range of council approved providers. A dedicated support officer will also be appointed to support the residents for the first 18 months of the new approach and help them develop personal transport plans, helping them be more independent.

The move is expected to cut £272,000 from the social care budget

The Council says its in house fleet will be run down by 2020 and that there may be 6 redundancies. The contract with Steamline taxis will not be renewed.

Each customer would receive on average around £5000 a year to pay for transport (plus mobility payments)

The recommended model hopes to equip customers with the confidence to take ownership of their requirements and offer them more choice and control over their transport arrangements.  

At the meeting councillors will also be asked to agree to the eligibility criteria for access to transport services, and if approved, the closure of the council’s fleet transport service by March 2020, which would reduce incrementally.

The residents would also be able to benefit from free York Independent Living and Travel Skills (YILTS) training to help them to travel independently. The YILTS training has already benefited customers and given them the confidence to travel independently while developing their social and financial skills.

The proposals align with the principles of the Care Act 2014, which aims are to place emphasis on prevention, early intervention and independence. The changes would affect 184 customers, of whom 26 are already travelling independently and a third travel through shared or individual taxis. All will be assisted via the dedicated support officer and access the free YILTS training.

Martin Farran, corporate director for health, housing and adult social care said: “With an ageing fleet we need to look at the options available to deliver an efficient and sustainable transport service for our customers. This report looks at options to give social care customers more choice and control over their transport, in lines with the principles of the 2014 care act, so they can take more ownership of their requirements.”

An executive report can be read by clicking here

 

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.

York police rolling out mini speed camera vans

The number of camera vans operating in North Yorkshire has doubled.  Six new, smaller sized, vehicles are expected to concentrate on villages and “more built-up areas”

They’ll be added to the six transit-sized vans already in the force’s mobile “speedcam” fleet. Chief Constable Dave Jones says the new vans mean drivers are likely to be caught on camera “in areas they didn’t previously expect”

The announcement will reawaken the controversy about how effective the police policy is on controlling vehicle speeds.

The force says, “Our mobile safety camera vehicles aim to reduce the number of collisions, deaths and serious injuries on our roads”.

FOI requests asking for trend data on average speeds – and accident rates – on roads subject to regular speed camera visits were ignored last year.

So all we know is that around £1 million a year is being taken in fines and “speed awareness course” income. This effectively pays for the camera vans and is a powerful incentive to use them where non compliance is at its most likely (essentially on trunk roads)

North Yorkshire speed stats

In effect the only success measure that is published is the number of vehicles found to be exceeding the speed limit on a day. This data can be viewed by clicking here

The Police site also lists the roads which are currently liable to be monitored

In York the list currently is:

York

  • Tadcaster Road Dringhouses York
  • Strensall Road Huntington York
  • Church Lane, Wheldrake
  • Millfield Lane Poppleton York
  • A64 Eastbound Heslington York
  • A64 Westbound Heslington York
  • A64 Westbound Murton
  • A64 Westbound a Fulford
  • A64 Claxton
  • A19 Skelton
  • A64 Jack Daw Crag Overbridge-Westbound
  • A64 Jack Daw Crag Overbridge-Ebound
  • B1222 Cawood Junct of Kelfield-
  • B1217 Saxton
  • A59 Poppleton Road (Holgate)
  • A59 Boroughbridge Road (opposite shops)
  • A1036 Huntington South Moor

York Council consultation systems failing

The first residents knew of a plan to extend alcohol sale times at the local Tesco express store on Acomb Wood Drive was when one found a vandalised notice in a hedgerow.

It was unclear where, or for how long, the Council notice had been displayed but the date for representations had already passed.

Late night alcohol sales – in this case the application would allow sales from 7:00am to 11:00pm seven days a week – are an issue in the area where an adjacent pub already supplies on premises needs.

Residents only find out about licensing applications if they happen to access an obscure part of the Councils web site. On the page, they can download the latest list.

There is no option for interested parties to be alerted to changes through text or Email alerts.

We think that the Council needs to up its game on consultation and make use of increasingly sophisticated social media channels.

It still hasn’t rolled out the much-promised personal account system which it claimed would allow every individual citizen to interact with the authority.

6 months after access to litter reports was rolled out – with some success – other service reports are still dogged by inadequate feedback systems.

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

Thanet Road proposed road humps

Worse still is the publicity given to TROs. This is a statutory activity. The Council is required to advertise any proposed changes to parking, access, speed limit and other transport restrictions.

For many years, the draft orders appeared on an obscure page in the local paper.

One would reasonably think that in 2017 the orders would also be displayed on the Councils web site.

It appears not.

Use the search facility on the Councils web site and no TROs are displayed.

It is almost as if the Council didn’t want drivers to find out what they are planning to do!

If objections to an draft Order are received, the Council is required to consider them and make a public decision on each.

One of the TROs currently out for consultation concerns Thanet Road where a 20-mph speed limit – and traffic calming measures – may be introduced.

Anyone searching for Thanet Road on the Council web site will be disappointed.

It is a shame that the Council doesn’t make better use of its web site, Facebook and Twitter together with more traditional methods like noticeboards.

The noticeboards in Windsor Garth and Ascot Way (both close to Thanet Road) have not had any notices of any sort displayed on them for over a year!

So how much does the York Council expect to raise from Coppergate camera fines?

The York Council has published a list of contraventions of it’s revised ANPR camera enforced access restrictions on Coppergate.

To date, 82 Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) have been issued.

Some drivers have received warning letters for “first offences”

Potentially the PCNs might bring in around £35,000 in a full year – less if fines are paid promptly or appeals are successful.

However, we are only just entering the tourist season and we know from the Lendal Bridge debacle that many visitors to the City are vulnerable to these byzantine access regulations. York’s international reputation is once more on the line.

It seems unlikely that the Council will reach its budgeted income figure of £100,000 – unless of course it intends to roll out ANPR camera enforcement to other streets.

Administration costs for spy camera enforcement systems are high so it may be the taxpayer who eventually faces a hit.