Taxpayers bonus from Rod Stewart concert

It looks like Council taxpayers will get a boost from those parking locally at the Rod Stewart concert which is being held on the Knavesmire on Saturday 1st June.

The Council will get the profits from car parking as the event falls outside the terms of the existing Racecourse lease.

Rod Stewart holds the official record attendance for a (free) outdoor concert. 3.5 million attended his gig at Copacabana beach in Rio a few years ago.

Rather fewer are expected to make their way to the Knavesmire in June

Crackdown on unsafe taxis in York

A series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out in a multi-agency operation to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Officers from partners including City of York Council, Leeds City Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) supported the operations.

The operation ran throughout the evening and into the morning of Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March. A total of 21 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages which were operating in the city were stopped and checked. Vehicles licensed by York, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Wakefield were inspected.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed, insured and that the vehicles they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads.

As a result, three vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA and/or suspended by council enforcement officers due to the faults found including:

  • defective tyres 
  • defective or inoperative lights
  • illuminated engine warning lights

A further 14 drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by licensing enforcement officers about breaches of taxi licensing rules. Two York private hire drivers were issued with formal written warnings for breach of licence condition.

Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email public.protection@york.gov.uk so that the council can investigate.

York to boast one of the biggest fleets of double deck electric buses outside of London

York will be home to one of the biggest fleets of double deck electric buses thanks to investment by First York and funding secured by City of York Council from Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV)

Today (25 March), City of York Council, First York and bus manufacturer Optare announced that 21 new double deck electric vehicles will arrive in York in October 2019. The zero-emission and fully electric buses each have the capacity to carry 99 passengers and have a range of over 150 miles from one overnight charge, which means that they don’t need to be recharged during the day. Alongside this, First York is also upgrading its charging infrastructure, and the state-of-the-art vehicles will feature audio visual next stop technology, USB charging points and will carry new-look Park & Ride branding.

York Park & Ride, an operating partnership between City of York Council and First York, supports over four million journeys every year and is one of the UK’s most successful Park & Ride services. 12 electric single deck Optare buses have been operating on two out of the six Park & Ride sites for the last five years; helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion in the city. Individual car use and the congestion caused is a big contributor to air pollution in York, but each bus can take up to 75 cars off the congested streets in York.

Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: “We’re proud to be the operator of one of the biggest fleets of double deck electric buses outside of London, as we continue to work with City of York Council to improve air quality in York.

“Today’s announcement showcases the benefits of partnership working in practice and we remain committed to investing in our bus services in York, as we share the same vision. By working together, local authorities and bus operators can make a real impact on congestion and air quality, provide better services for our customers, support local economies more effectively and, ultimately, help to increase passenger numbers.

“At First York, we are striving to make things better for the customer by making bus travel simple, speeding up bus boarding times, reducing journey times, using data to make better operational decisions and developing a customer relationship as opposed to a transactional one.”

For further information, visit www.itravelyork.info/park-and-ride.

Bus services in York get thumbs up from passengers

Bus users in York hold local bus services in high regard.

The most recent independent survey conducted by “Transport Focus” found that 89% were satisfied with their overall journey experience.

85% thought that the journey time was reasonable while 77% said the buses were punctual.

62% of fare paying passengers said he service was good value for money (down from 79% the previous year)

Most of the respondents used First services. First compared favourably with many other operators across the country.

Bus drivers behaviour was widely praised.

The survey results bear out similar findings from a door to door survey undertaken by local councillors last year.

The detailed results are:

Huge York central development gets planning approval

A major development behind York railway station got the go ahead from the Planning Committee last night.

York Central site

It will provide hundreds of new homes and jobs over the next decade or so.

The site has been derelict, and mostly unused, for over 20 years. The progress made in bringing forward the site will probably be recorded by history as the major achievement of the current Council coalition administration.

The development is not without controversy.

The transport plans in particular lack the quality and imagination that many had hoped for. The developers will need to refine access arrangements from the City centre to Leeman Road particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Bus services must include a frequent park and ride link to off site parking spaces at Poppleton Bar.

Some courage will be needed if the site is to be declared an “ultra low emission zone”. Such a step would be an acknowledgement that the declaration of a “climate crisis” by the Council a few days ago was more than just rhetoric.

But overall the decision is a good one for the City, not least because it will reduce the pressure to build on green fields.

Hopefully we will see some development on site before the end of the year.

Road and footpath resurfacing in York

The York Councils maintenance programme for the forthcoming year has been published. Expenditure of over £9 million has been identified although a lot of this will go on addressing surface water drainage problems. The schedule includes £700,000 for gulley repairs
surface water

The programme also includes investment of over £600,000 to maintain the City Walls, with the focus being on the Bootham section.

One of the most expensive single schemes will see Stonegate repaved at a cost of £500,000.

On the west of the City the carriageways on both Gale Lane and Tadcaster Road will be resurfaced. Cycle routes will get a £250,000 maintenance boost.

However, the funds allocated for footpath repairs is disappointingly low.  The identified major footpath resurfacing schemes are all on the east of the City.

It must leave residents living in streets like Walton Place wondering just how bad a footpath must be before being repaired.

Walton Place

Predictably last night the York Council woke up to the major backlog in highway repairs that has developed in the city during the last decade. Cynics may say that Labour and the LibDems vying to be the voice of the road user has something to do with the imminent Council elections which take place in early May.

However, successive residents’ surveys have confirmed that poor highway maintenance is now the biggest concern that residents have.

It will take a major and sustained boost in funding if the roads and paths in the City  are to be returned to a safe condition.

Planning application for front of York Station submitted

Plans that will see the front of York Railway Station transformed with the removal of Queen Street Bridge and reorganising the layout leading into the station have been submitted today.

It seems that successive Councils chose to take potentially risky decisions in the weeks leading up to an election. In 2015, the then Labour led Council, was in turmoil following the disastrous closure of Lendal Bridge.

Now the coalition has announced that the Queen Street bridge will be demolished.

The present Councils plan has a better chance of gaining public support. It is after all a bridge that serves no purpose and its removal would kick start the regeneration of the Railway Station precinct.

The Council says that the planning application has been submitted following an extensive public consultation in summer 2018 “which saw over 1,500 people share their feedback on the scheme”.

Following this feedback designers altered the master plan to take into account the comments. This lead to several changes, including:

  • moving the cycleway on Queen Street to reduce conflict with on street parking spaces
  • providing safe access for cyclists to the station from the west-bound carriageway
  • provision for a suitable system for managing rail replacement buses
  • incorporating appropriate counter-terrorism measures that are sympathetic to the station setting

After the planning application has been validated by the council’s planning team in the coming days. Once it has been validated, it will be available to view at www.york.gov.uk/planning

City of York Council is working closely with Network Rail, London North Eastern Railway and Northern Powerhouse to deliver the proposals. Different landowners and funding arrangements mean that plans for the area will be delivered in phases.

The project to transform the front of York Station will receive funding through 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 (WYCA) and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

For more information about York Station front visit www.york.gov.uk/stationfront

A bridge too near?


First walk across new Scarborough Bridge, York ahead of next month’s opening following £4.4m upgrade

The new bridge is the first over the River Ouse in York city centre for 138 years

Unfortunately it does little for cyclists travelling from, and to, the Leeman Road area who still face an unpleasant journey through the black tunnel of Marble Arch (which lacks a waterproof membrane). It remains a major obstacle to the development of the York Central site.

Scarborough bridge cycle track with train!

The first steps across the new Scarborough Bridge, York, were taken during a site visit today (Tuesday 19 March) to see how the £4.4m scheme to boost access for people travelling by bike or on foot between the train station and the city centre is progressing.

The new bridge has been delivered in partnership by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through its £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to cycle and walk, City of York Council, and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER EP).  The bridge is due to open to the public next month (April).

Scarborough Bridge has been closed to the public since the end of January to allow for ongoing construction works, including the old footbridge being lifted out by rail crane to make way for the new, wider and more accessible shared use bridge. 

More than 3,000 people crossed the old footbridge daily, despite access issues. 

At 65-metres long the new bridge is three times as wide at 3.7metres, increasing access to more people.  It had to be lifted into place in four separate parts due to its size.     

Improvement works also include step-free access with ramps as well as new external steps leading to the riverside paths.

On the southern side a new path on the top of the embankment will mean people can travel directly between York Station and the new bridge, providing a traffic free scenic route to the city centre.  The new bridge will be accessible even when in flood. 

The original bridge was designed and built by Robert Stephenson in 1845. This first iteration saw the walkway placed between the railway tracks and was accessed by internal steps.

When York Station was moved in 1873-5 the bridge was updated to make it suitable. This is when the old footbridge was installed and, until recently, had remained largely unchanged for the last 144 years.

For more information about the Scarborough Bridge scheme visit www.york.gov.uk/scarboroughbridge

Lincoln Court update

The Councils Executive discussed the planned extension of the Lincoln Court independent living building yesterday. They agreed to progress the scheme and included a requirement for an alternative all weather games area to be provided in the ward.

It will be up to the planning committee at its meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to include a condition requiring that the new facility is provided before the existing MUGA is demolished.

Windsor House is already being vandalised

It emerged at the meeting that 14 of the remaining 19 tenants have now accepted offers of alternative accommodation. When the remaining 5 will be offered, and accept, a suitable alternative remains in doubt. The adjacent Windsor House building, which is empty, is already suffering vandalism and there is a concern that the whole site could become a magnet for anti social behaviour.

Large delivery lorries are ruining roads in Lowfields. Similar concerns about Ascot Way

The Council is negotiating with the school to allow builders plant to access the site from the school side. There have been major problems getting large items of plant into the Lowfields site where roads are of a similar width to Ascot Way.

It has yet to be confirmed whether an (pedestrian) access will be retained from the school site when the redevelopment has been completed. This is considered to be essential to provide overflow parking capacity given that only 16 spaces are being provided on the Ascot Way frontage.

Large plant on Lowfields site. Working hours planning condition being breached?

Sadly members of the executive failed to probe why the new apartments have been described, in successive Planning Committee reports, as “extra care” units.

No doubt residents will get more clarification tomorrow