Majority oppose major changes at St Leonard’s Place/Bootham/Gillygate junction

It looks like the proposal to change traffic signal priorities at the Gillygate/Bootham/St Leonard’s Place junction will be abandoned.

Some York Councillors had apparently favoured introducing additional delays on traffic flows through the junction as part of a signal renewal programme.

The revised arrangement – although improving pedestrian facilities – could have resulted in a 40% increase in travel times with some journeys being diverted onto already busy alternative routes.

There would also have been a consequential increase in air pollution levels on streets like Gillygate because of standing traffic. Bus journey times would have increased.

A public consultation exercise was undertaken to test residents’ reactions to the plan. Despite some leading questions being included in the on-line survey, most respondents (58%) have come out against major changes.

Although the junction is far from ideal for all road users, it currently reflects the compromises that come if you wish to conserve the historic features of a City like York.

A report will be considered next week.

The responses to the consultation do reveal a growing chasm between the views of people who live within walking distance of the City centre and those who use personal transport to travel to the facilities that are located there.

There is a lack of empathy between the two groups which suggests that finding a consensus on a new transport plan for the City  (click)  may prove to be illusive.

Options consulted on for Bootham Gillygate junction winter 2020/21

Double yellow lines coming to a street near you?

The Foxwood Residents Association say on their Facebook site that they have responded to a notice placed on a lamppost which advertised plans for double yellow lines on Askham Croft.

They uncovered some maps (below) which give residents more details of what is planned in the Westfield Ward.

It may be that these plans are relatively uncontroversial.

However, it appears that dozens of other changes to parking restrictions affecting the whole City have also been tabled. We doubt whether local communities will read the lamppost notices in their areas and so may be unaware that they only have until the middle of May to register any observations.

We think that, as a minimum, the Council should alert residents to the proposals using their social media channels.

They should also publish a plain English version together with a map on their web site.

Click the graphic below to download a (not very user friendly) list.

Road repairs programme for York finally published – mixed news.

The programme of repairs to York’s highways network, that will take place during 2021/22, has finally been published. The programme is usually agreed in February. Work has already started on some of the listed schemes.

There is some mixed news in the report which was approved at a “behind closed doorsmeeting apparently held on 23rd April.

The highways maintenance programme (which includes not just carriageway and footpath repairs but also drainage, street lighting, City Walls, flood alleviation etc,)  is one of the services which most interest residents, the programme has been delegated for officer determination for some years. Thus, the reports are not subject to scrutiny and alternative ways of allocated the budget are not publicly debated.

One key sentence in the report sums up the dilemma faced by the Council.

“Notwithstanding previous levels of investment the current funding levels are not sufficient to keep all our assets in their current condition”.

In effect, the Council has decided to focus resurfacing works on busy roads. Most side roads are being left to crumble.

Some work scheduled for 20/21, including the whole of the micro patching programme in Woodthorpe, has been delayed into the current financial year.

There is some good news.

Several long term problem locations in west York, including parts of Foxwood Lane, Askham Lane near the  A1237 intersection,  The Green, Bradley Lane near Rufforth, the low numbered end of Gale Lane and Thanet Road are scheduled to be resurfaced this year.

But there is no allocation for repairs on School Street and the surrounding area behind the Front Street shops, nor at many other sub-urban locations.

No footpaths in the Westfield area will be resurfaced.

There is no mention in the programme of the repairs needed to off-road cycle track infrastructure nor is there any listing of how the £1 million delegated “ward budgets” will be spent.

 £877,000 of the latter budget, due to be invested last year, is being carried over into the current year. At the very least residents should be given the opportunity to influence how that section of the budget is spent.

All in all its seems that the decline in maintenance standards is set to continue for another year.

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