Lendal Bridge – Council conduct on line poll

Lendal Bridge closure Nov 2013

Attempts by the council’s leadership to justify the Lendal bridge closure on Radio York today are being greeted with derision by most listeners.

The Council have singularly failed to provide update reports on footfall (shopper numbers), accidents, journey times (all classes of vehicle), air quality and the levels of successful appeals against the fines imposed by the number plate recognition cameras.

However they are now conducting an “on line” survey of resident’s views.

The chances are that few will even know that this is going on so the results will be open to manipulation.

Click here to take the survey (it takes only about 1 minute to complete)

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats survey – conducted through a house to house delivery to 7000 properties in west York – has attracted a large response. Around 10% of the forms have now been returned and analysed.  The percentages are now stable. The latest figures are:

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click to enlarge

A bridge too near?

The promised report on Labour plans for a new £10 million bridge near Wilton Rise has now been published.

It turns out that £1.5 million of this will be spent on consultant’s fees.

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

The report claims that the costs of the bridge would be repaid “from the additional income in Business Rates and Council Tax generated by the new developments” (on the York central site).

It then goes on to claim that 1083 new homes will be provided. That is a surprise because the draft Local Plan published by Labour in April assumed only 438 homes would be constructed on this site.

However, the housing numbers included in the Labour draft Local Plan have already been undermined with actual planning applications submitted, and approved, over the last 6 months being in every case higher than the Plan estimate
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Therefore a much higher housing figure is a legitimate target for the York central site.

The present coalition government policy does encourage development and allows local authorities to retain and invest, for 6 years, additional Council Tax monies generated by new homes (New Homes Bonus).

Business Rates have also been “localised”. So an increase in income from additional commercial buildings would increase the amount that the Council receives from Business Rates. However government grants, which seek to equalise Council income between “prosperous” and less well off areas, could be reduced.

No business case of any sort has been provided for the meeting next week.

In addition to the homes, the “plan” talks about “building 93,000 sq m of office space with ancillary bar, restaurant, retail and leisure uses” in 2015.

A further 35,000 sq m would be built in 2019 in the form on a commercial area “in front of the station” and would include a new hotel although most would be more offices.

Of course, any incremental development in the City provides similar increases in Council income plus more jobs and homes.

Residents might have expected any income to be earmarked to pay for repairs to the public services in the City which have deteriorated so badly over the last 3 years.

Public consultation results - York central access options

Public consultation results – York central access options

Incredibly, the Council is being asked to earmark the £10 million without a development “Masterplan” being in place.

As a result no planning permission exists for the development.

The absence of a business plan is the major problem at present. It remains unclear how the site clean up will be funded (it is heavily polluted) nor is there any guarantee that other transport infrastructure needs can be financed.

From the information, that has been made available, it does seem that the Councils investment will not be underwritten in any way.

It is therefore a very high risk venture.

There is no proposal to form a joint development company which would allow Council Taxpayers to share in the success of any development (to offset the substantial risk)

The legal restrictions – which apply across Europe – on subsidising private companies are not explored in the paper.

Like the sale of the Haymarket car park on Hungate – for around 50% of its current open market value – the Council is being both naïve and reckless with taxpayers money. The promised offices and hotel on Hungate have yet to move forward and so have provided no economic stimulus for the City.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” could well be a similar embarrassment.

With the national economy improving, and some local developers reflecting the more buoyant approach in the City, less risky ways to kick start important developments like York Central should be considered.

Alexander resigns from City centre role.

York City centre "to let"

York City centre “to let”

The Councils Leader is standing down from the chair of the “City Team York” group which was established in response to the national effort to improve the fortunes of the high street.

The move follows months of protests from City centre traders who have seen shopper numbers fall in the wake of the new traffic restrictions and huge increases in car parking charges introduced by the Labour led Council.

Launched in August last year, the group is made up of retailers, the city council and a range of professional and businesses organisations from across the city centre with a remit to improve business growth, resilience and economic vitality.

It replaced a City centre traders group which had worked closely with the Council for many years with the introduction of a cheap “shoppers car park” on Fossbank one of its achievements.

An advert for a new private sector chair has been published.

Closing date for applications is 31st December 2013 and full details for any business person who would be interested in applying for this voluntary post may be found here: http://www.yorkmeansbusiness.co.uk/updates/city-team-york-chair.aspx

York businesses: sign-up to get free tailored travel advice

Mobile Business

City of York Council’s i-Travel York team are hosing a breakfast meeting on Tuesday 26 November at the Best Western Monk Bar Hotel from 8.30am till 9:30am and are encouraging all businesses – particularly during this week’s York Business Week 2013 to consider attending.

The event will showcase a new video which is the result of collaboration work with York businesses and will also highlight the benefits of business travel planning and the services which the council can provide to businesses to assist them with their travel plans.
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90% say “lift Lendal Bridge access restrictions”

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click to enlarge

An overwhelming majority of residents have given the thumbs down to the current closure restrictions on Lendal Bridge.

Responding to a survey carried out by the Liberal Democrats, in the Dringhouses, Woodthorpe and Hob Moor areas, only 8% have said that the trial is a success.

90% want the restrictions to be removed.

A massive 95% say that traffic congestion in the City has got worse over recent months.

Stand and deliver  Labour adopt traditional approach to transport funding in York

Stand and deliver
Labour adopt traditional approach to transport funding in York

The results underpin the findings from other sources.

Over 35,000 penalty notices have been issued since the Lendal Bridge and Coppergate ANPR cameras were installed.

The influential “Trip Advisor” web site has logged a large number of complaints from visitors who are vowing never to visit the City again.

A Facebook page has also been set up by opponents of the restrictions.

The Council leadership continue to maintain an air of lofty indifference to resident’s views prompting new calls for a referendum on the future of the restrictions.

An opportunity to test resident’s views, at a reasonable cost, will come on 22nd May when European Parliament elections are already scheduled to take place.

By then, however, some traders may have been forced to close as City centre shopper numbers continue to fall.

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There is no consolation for the Council’s Leadership from residents other responses to the survey.

88% say there is no justification for Labours plans to build on the Green Belt, while 80% remain opposed to a wide area 20 mph speed limit.

Most damming verdict comes from the 93% who believe that public service standards have got worse since Labour took office.

No one who has responded so far believes that standards have got better.

York road repairs backlog hits £32.7 million

Worn highays surface Hamilton Drive West
Worn highays surface Hamilton Drive West
Pothole Windsor Garth

Pothole Windsor Garth

In response to a Freedom of information request , the York Council has admitted that it would cost £32.7 million to address the backlog on highways repairs.

The figure includes all road and footway refurbishment works with associated drainage and road signs and markings.

Meanwhile more and more problems with potholes are expected as ice further damages poor road surfaces during the winter months.

Potholes little Green Lane

Potholes little Green Lane

Cornlands Road drains blockeed

Cornlands Road drains blockeed

Lendal Bridge/Coppergate update published. Number fined tops 35,000!

Stand and deliver  Labour revive traditional transport funding in York

Stand and deliver
Labour revive traditional transport funding in York

25,911 motorists have attracted penalty charge notices, for using Lendal Bridge, since ANPR cameras were switched on to enforce restrictions at the beginning of September.

On Coppergate, a total of 9122 drivers have now been penalised.

Together that means that 35,033 drivers have been told to cough up £60 each.

That is the equivalent of over £2 million in fines income.

Of course, the amount actually received by the Council will be less than half that figure as many will pay early to get a £30 discount, while others will successfully challenge the fine.

It is still a damming indictment of the adequacy of the signage used to advertise the restrictions.

Fines levied by week. Click to enlarge

Fines levied by week. Click to enlarge

The figures are admitted in the Councils latest update report on the effects of the new traffic restrictions.

The report is otherwise remarkable for what it hides rather than what it reveals.

There are no footfall (shopper) statistics included, accident and air quality figures are missing, only the effects of the closure on park and ride bus services are reported (journey times up in October) while the normal stage carriage services (which have been hit by increased traffic congestion in other parts of the City) are omitted.

No information on journey times for drivers is provided.

The Council only admits that traffic volumes on Foss Islands Road and Clifton Bridge are up on the same period last year.

The report, such as it is, can be read by clicking here.

Lendal Bridge cameras – high fault levels Council admits

CCTV-Camera-300x224

A Freedom of information request has revealed that the ANPR restriction enforcement cameras on Lendal Bridge were not working for long periods in late September and early October.

This will come as little consolation to the increasing number of visitors to the City who are being caught out by bus lane cameras.

Many are using this web site to vent their concerns.

Some say that they will never return to York.

Others are just bemused by the poor signage of the restrictions.

The Council has still not published its assessment report for October

The Council says that, “for technical reasons the cameras on Lendal Bridge were not operational in one or both directions on the following dates”.

  •  13/09/2013
  • 21/09/2013
  • 22/09/2013
  • 23/09/2013
  • 29/09/2013
  • 30/09/2013
  • 01/10/2013
  • 05/10/2013
  • 06/10/2013
  • 07/10/2013
  • 08/10/2013

“Traffic congestion in York getting worse” – residents. Costs put at £491 per household

Congestion cartoon 2

Every respondent, to the survey that we are undertaking in parts of the Hob Moor and Dringhouses areas, has so far said that traffic congestion in York has got worse in recent months.

Delays of the type experienced during the “rush hours” have now become commonplace at other times of the day.

The sudden deterioration has been put down to a series of factors.

The decision to close Lendal Bridge to private traffic, while at the same time undertaking extensive road works on the A1237 northern by pass, is blamed by many.

Unreliable traffic signals, burst water mains and a population less willing to use bus services, have added to the problems.

The Council’s ridiculously titled campaign to “Get York Moving” lies in tatters with a report to a Cabinet meeting earlier in the month lacking any information on traffic volumes or congestion delays.

Nationally according to a recent report, close to £426m is being wasted on fuel alone due to traffic hold ups, which means each of the 8.2 million commuting drivers in the country have to bear a fuel cost of £52.

INRIX, an international provider of traffic information and intelligent driver services, together with Cebr, has revealed that congestion on roads costs around £491 per car-commuting household.

The other direct cost is wastage of time, with the average cost of time wasted in gridlock per traveller £331, which results in a total national time cost of £2.7bn.

New Askham Bar P&R site: night works

Askham Bar (Tadcaster Road) roadworks

Askham Bar (Tadcaster Road) roadworks

Working in partnership with Balfour Beatty, City of York Council will be carrying out night works for the revised junction at the new Askham Bar Park & Ride site from next week.

A series of night-time closures will be in place from Monday 18 November until Thursday 28 November on the inbound and outbound carriageways along the A1036 from the A64 to Sim Balk Lane.

The carriageway will be closed from 9pm and will be re-opened at 6am. The closures will not take place on the evenings of Saturday 23 November and Sunday 24 November.

Alternative diversion routes will be in place and signed. Access to the Esso Petrol Station will be maintained at all times from the York side of the junction.
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