Taxi fares set to increase by 4%

A meeting next week will consider a proposal to increase taxi fares in the City by 4%.

A new fares chart is proposed (see below)

If no objections are received the new fares will be implemented on 1st May 2021.

The meeting will also receive an update report on the controversial issue of private hire vehicles – including UBER – which are licensed in another local authority area and who are picking up fares in York. The committee is being advised that this is not unlawful.

£44 million to be spent on transport in York this year

Large budget but little being invested in west York

The Council has revealed its transport investment budget for the new financial year.

£44.2 million has been allocated to a range of improvements although the vast majority of the budget has been earmarked for dualling the outer ring road (£21.3 million) and improvements to the railway station frontage (£13.5 million). Neither of the schemes will be completed during the year as extensive preparatory works are required.

£1.2 million will be spent on the ongoing programme of modernising traffic signals (this will include replacing the Front Street pelican crossing along with lights at 8 other locations across the City).

Residents of the west of the City will be disappointed to see that their neighbourhood has been snubbed when allocations from the pedestrian and cycling budget have been made. Not for the first-time investment, is being focused on the central and eastern parts of the City.

A welcome, but very modest, allocation has been made for bus shelter replacement (£100k). Many of the council owned shelters are looking very tatty now with a belated repainting programme proving to be “too little, too late” and failing to bring about a lasting improvement.  

Similarly, a £50,000 allocation for Public Rights of Way (PROW) structural repairs is long overdue.  Sadly, the budget will barely make a dent in the backlog of work need to stiles, signage, and repairs to flooded sections of path.

All in all then, a mixed picture.

Hopefully the highway maintenance allocations – which have still not been publicised – will be targeted at repairing the worst roads and paths many of which are located in west York.

Better news for York – Selby cycle path users

Major resurfacing works on the Naburn to Riccall section of the cycle path are expected to take place later in the year.

The cycle path managers SUSTRANS have applied for a government grant which – if approved by Ministers in May – would see large sections of the path levelled.

The surface has been severely damaged by tree roots in recent years. SUSTRANs have already been removing some of the trees during the winter. The trees are self-seeded and became established too close to the path.

There is a hope that the resurfacing contract will include the provision of root protection guards.

 SUSTRANS also have funding to repair the path alongside the A64 subject to agreeing the details with Highways England.

SUSTRANS say that parts of the path may have to be closed while the resurfacing work takes place.

There is still no news about the promised safety improvements on the section of path from Tadcaster Road (London Bridge) to the A64 southern by-pass.

This section is the maintenance responsibility of the City of York Council.

The developers of the adjacent football club pavilion agreed some 3 years ago to invest in the path as part of their works.

With roads and footpaths to the pavilion now approaching completion, we expect the York Council to announce its proposals and timetable  for improvements to the adjacent cycle route.

Escrick Sidings

Not such good news at Escrick where the landowners have completed the levelling of the area.

The informal picnic area has been damaged in the process (albeit revealing a disappointing amount of accumulated litter!) .

SUSTRANs say that they have received no communication from the owners of the land (believed to be a local building firm). The site falls within the boundaries of the Selby District Council.

Vehicle recharging “HyperHub” plan for Union Terrace car park.

Part of the Union Terrace car park would be converted into an electric vehicle recharging site under Council plans.

Three 50kW Rapid chargers and three 150kW Ultra-Rapid chargers would be installed on a central charging island. Four double headed 7kW Fast charge points would also be installed across 8 parking bays in the main car park, adjacent to the HyperHub.

The proposal, which involve the loss of about 20 ordinary parking spaces, is being discussed next week. It replaces a plan to establish the facility on Bootham Court. This site was subsequently abandoned.

The project is expected to cost £900,000

York’s EV charging strategy includes the deployment of Ultra-rapid charging hubs, known as HyperHubs, at strategic locations around the city.  £1.35million funding was awarded by North Yorkshire LEP in June 2020 to develop York’s public charging network, of which £550k was allocated for the construction of a 3rd HyperHub located near the city centre.

There are no immediate plans to introduce “on street” charging facilities in terraced areas. These facilities have been provided in several City’s making use of the power supply to streetlights or bollards.

Two other HyperHubs are planned, located next to Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar Park & ride sites. An update can be viewed by clicking here

Electric vehicle charging policies received a panning by Which magazine recently

They said that

  • Accessing public chargers was unnecessarily complicated and that universal access was needed
  • Disparate rapid charging plugs were confusing
  • Charging by time was also confusing
  • As was the many variable charging speeds
  • Brand specific networks were considered to be unnecessarily

They called on the government to introduce a standardised approach.

The York Council could usefully add its voice to the calls for more regulation.

No sign of York Council road repairs programme

Although the new financial year starts today, there is still no sign of the York Councils road resurfacing programme for 2021/22.

The plan is usually published in March prior to going though an approvals process.

In recent years the allocation of the budget has been delegated to officers at the authority with any decision meetings held behind closed doors.

Beech Grove in Acomb – One of many carriageways needing repairs

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey has however been published.

The study examines the scale – and potential costs – of delayed road maintenance schemes across the country.

Click to read full report

York Council to cut 20% from highway maintenance

A response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Council intends to spend 20% less on repairing roads and footpaths in the City during 2021/22 compared to the current year.

The decision will come as a disappointment to many drivers and pedestrians and will be a particular blow for cyclists, many of whom have criticised the rapidly declining quality of local highway surfaces.

Highway maintenance is one of the expenditure areas in the Council where essentially you get what you pay for. So less money inevitably means that fewer paths and carriageways will be resurfaced.

The Council will announce shortly what proportion of the budget it will spend on reactive pothole filling rather than, longer lasting, patching and resurfacing schemes.

Sources at the Council have criticised inconsistent central government funding allocations – such as the annual so called “pot hole” fund – which make long term investment planning difficult. A late announcement of funding for the resurfacing of Tadcaster Road came only weeks after the work had been completed using local taxpayers money (and is now being done again).

However, there will also be concern that some money has been taken from the maintenance budget to fund other projects. Several new schemes, such as rural cycle routes, are sucking funds from the budgets needed to repair existing cycle paths..

The Council has never recovered from the major reductions made to highways funding some 8 years ago.

Successive administrations have failed to find ways of returning investment levels to those seen earlier in the century.

It is estimated that the backlog in maintenance work nationally would require investment of around £11 billion to rectify.

Road repairs backlog grows

The backlog of requests for patching and resurfacing of roads in York seems to be growing.

Officials have refused to fill in potholes like these on The Gallops

Requests for potholes to be filled and uneven roads repaired are now being routinely turned down.

The risks for cyclists and pedestrians are rising.

Even when officials decide that some work is needed only rudimentary work is done to potholes. They usually require attention again within a few weeks.

The very least that officials and responsible Councillors should do is explain their policies, what is possible within existing budget allocations and when residents can reasonably expect to see an improvements.

Some pretty bad mistakes seem to have been made when the allocation of basic maintenance budgets was agreed.

Councillors seem oblivious to the growing chorus of complaints.

This issue is an election loser if ever there was one

NB. The resurfacing programme for the new financial year should be published shortly

Progress on York Outer Ring Road upgrade

Compulsory Purchase Orders may be needed

Proposals to progress the upgrade of the York Outer Ring Road will be considered by the Council Executive at a meeting next week.

If agreed, the Council would have the option to use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) for land to dual and upgrade the outer ring road – but only as a last resort.

To progress the scheme, the council needs to purchase private farmland to create an extra lane and improved pedestrian and cycle facilities along a 7.5km stretch of the outer ring road,  between A19 Rawcliffe to A1036 Little Hopgrove.

A report published ahead of the council’s Executive next Thursday (18 March) outlines how the council hopes to reach private agreement with all the landowners, but needs to start the legal process to make sure a CPO is ready, if it’s required.

The Executive will also receive an update on the next steps to deliver the project. Officers are analysing 3500 comments from a recent public consultation before submitting a planning application for the scheme.

The council has secured £58m of external funding for the £66m scheme, which will also include upgrades and extra lanes at seven roundabouts.  £25m funding comes from the Department of Transport, while £33m comes from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Almost £300k awarded to reduce emissions in York

City of York Council have been awarded £297,237 by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

See the source image

The funding will enable to council to carry out a feasibility study and subsequent pilot scheme to reduce emissions relating to deliveries travelling in to and out of York.

29 local authorities across England have been granted more than £5 million from the government’s Air Quality Grant to deliver innovative projects to improve air quality and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health.

The project will focus on how to reduce the number of deliveries made to the city centre and around York by LGVS and HGVs (such as small vans or larger heavy goods vehicles). A study will identify suitable sustainable alternatives which may include a delivery ‘hub’ allowing the last or first mile of the journey to be made by low emission modes, including e-cargo bikes. The project will aim to reduce both the overall number of vehicles undertaking deliveries and emissions from the remaining fleet. The council will be engaging with businesses, including delivery companies, on the study and pilot scheme. 

See the source image

There are five key areas for air quality improvement around York’s inner ring road which are included in York’s Air Quality Management Area  (AQMA). This project has the potential to reduce NOx emissions in all these areas and across the wider district. The new project will also reduce emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which is known to be the pollutant of greatest harm to human health.  As well as improving local air quality the project will also help to reduce CO2 emissions to help achieve our Net-Zero targets.

The project will assist in delivering the following action points in York’s current Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3): 5 (reducing emissions from freight); 11 (Local incentives for low emission vehicles and alternative fuel use); 12 (Attracting low emission industries, business and jobs to York).

The project’s benefits could be realised further afield than the city centre. Depending on the final location of the pilot project, the scheme may also help to address LGV and HGV emissions to neighbouring districts.

Pollution levels still low in York

Air quality remains good, and pollution levels very low, on Gillygate and at other monitoring sites in the City.

Traffic levels are, however, higher than were recorded during lockdown 1 last spring. They are likely to increase further from Monday when there will be a general return to school.

It will be April before shops and offices reopen.

Council plans to reduce road capacity at the Gillygate/St Leonard’s Place/ Bootham junction seem ill timed and insufficiently thought through.

The plans could increase congestion by 30%. That would delay bus services including the vital park and ride links.

In the meantime, residents can monitor hour by hour pollution levels by clicking this link

Meanwhile we understand that the Council will delay its assessment of the effects of road closures in The Groves area.

A review was due in the spring.

They are right to delay as traffic volumes and movements have been untypical during the Lockdown period.

However, it does mean that a reassessment of some of the more questionable aspects of the scheme – such as contraflow cycle routes – will remain in place as traffic volumes and safety hazards increase.

There have been no queues involving deer or cattle in The Groves during recent months