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Council chaos

In the space of only a few hours, the council has changed its proposals for a 20 mph speed limit trial.
Instead of Bishopthorpe the council now intends to trail its approach in the much smaller village of Murton. Here residents have already petitioned for a lower speed limit although, with average speeds at around 32 mph, it is likely most of the residents will be keener to have the existing 30 mph limit enforced when faced with the reality that a 20 mph limit may be ignored by many drivers. The top speed recently recorded through the village was 68mph.
Labour are now trying to include most of Bishopthorpe Road in the South Bank 20 mph speed limit area. (Bizarrely the shopping area – where 20 mph is certainly a high enough limit – falls outside the proposed trial zone).
This is contrary to the promises made by Labour at the local elections when they said that the main arterial roads into the City would not be included in their 20 mph plans. So they really must now intend to have a general 20 mph limit.
There is no clue yet as to how the Police – who are responsible for enforcing speed limits and who have resolutely said that any 20 mph limit must be “self enforcing” – will react. What is clear is that they struggle to enforce the existing 30 mph limit in some urban streets. Demands for more enforcement action in “residential areas” could mean even less time tracking down the habitual “speeders” who ignore any limit that is imposed.
Elsewhere, the Council has been forced to call a special meeting to discuss the Union Terrace car/coach park sale controversy. Labour have responded by threatening to agree the sale later on the same day at the Council meeting (4th August). Presumably common sense will prevail shortly and a way of continuing the parking provision and giving St Johns the opportunity to expand will be found.
Labour’s leaders were probably hoping that the new development could have provided a new public access, City centre, swimming pool, but with that clearly not viable, their enthusiasm for the sale seems to be waning.

20 mph speed limit for York?

It looks like Labour are going ahead with their plan to introduce a 20 mph speed limit in York. A report due to be approved by the Council’s “Cabinet” tomorrow (18/7) says,
“We will start by putting in place a programme to introduce 20mph limits in residential areas and minimise associated street clutter. By the end of 2011/12 we will implement 20mph speed limits in a ‘first phase’ of residential areas. Following this we will roll out 20mph limits across the rest of the city’s residential areas by 2013”. No attempt is made to define a “residential area”.
York already has 20 mph speed limits near schools and at other potential accident black spots. 20 mph zones have been introduced in Fishergate and the Milner Street areas with a much larger South Bank zone also scheduled for implementation this year.
The intention had been to assess the impact that these trials had on accident rates before reviewing other speed limits.
Now it seems that Labour plan to pilot their plan in Bishopthorpe
The decision to press ahead with a city wide speed limit reduction comes at a time when experts like University of London Professor John Wann have said that “too many 20 mph zones can dilute their effectiveness as motorists fail to recognise that they are in a high risk area”. That view is also supported by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
The cost of introducing a city wide 20 mph limit in York has been put at £1 million. Much of this would be spent on signs although central government have said recently that speed limit markings can be painted on the road surface. The problem with the later option is that such markings wear out very quickly and can be difficult to see in wet and muddy conditions.
York has seen a 50% reduction in serious road accidents over the last few years. That trend could be reversed if limited resources are spent on a 20 mph limit which is widely abused and largely unenforceable. Labour should rethink their plans.

Milner Street area 20 mph zone

Bus service changes in Westfield

Changes to bus services in York will take effect from 28th August. Details will appear on the Yorkshire journey planner towards the end of August.
Several changes affect the Westfield area.
There are no changes to the number 4 ftr service.

Planned bus service changes

Crime in Westfield and Woodthorpe down

Westfield and Woodthorpe crime figures

Scare stories by some Labour politicians about crime levels are questionable at least in the west of York. Here crime levels are still reducing and are about average when compared to the country as a whole.
Obviously no one should be complacent. The absence of Community Ranger patrols may affect the figures and usually there is a blip in anti social behaviour during the school holidays.
The Council will need to ensure that areas are secure. For example, we found recently that the entrance chain, which helped to stop unauthorised vehicles and motor cyclists entering the Cornlands Road Park, had disappeared.

Cornlands Road park entrance.

Residents can now access crime figures for their street and neighbourhood via the following web site
Similar a recent press story highlighted relatively high levels of complaints about noise from some local streets. These included St Stephens Road, Thoresby Road, and Windsor Garth. All, of course, contain a large number of flats that were built around 50 years ago. Sound insulation standards at that time were not designed to meet modern demands.
The Councils noise nuisance service generally does a good job. You can complain about noise on Friday and Saturday nights, between 9.00pm and 3.00am, by telephoning the Noise Patrol service on tel: (01904) 551555.

Taxi changes

Prius taxi in New York

The Council is to increase the number of taxis on York’s’ streets by four a year. The vehicles will have to be either electric or hybrids. With no suitable electric vehicles available at present (range issues) it is likely that we will see more Toyota Prius style hybrid vehicles plying our streets for hire. (The current Prius model can be leased for around £100 a week with low fuel costs and zero VED).
We think the Council are right to take this decision as the new vehicles will reduce emission levels and should be quieter.
The Council has also introduced new standards for replacement taxi and private hire vehicles. For 2012 replacement vehicles will have to meet the latest Euro emission standards.
“Plug in” Toyota hybrid’s have been on trial in the UK for the last 12 months. They and the Chevy “Volt” are an increasingly common sight on roads in the USA. One would be an obvious choice for the Lord Mayors new car when the existing ones lease runs out shortly.
We’d like to see the Council now start to introduce low emission vehicles across its fleet. After a good start, when they bought 3 Smart cars 7 or 8 years ago, the fleet now fails to set a good environmental example by contemporary standards.
Unfortunately the Council has blundered by reintroducing a 24 hour taxi rank on Duncombe Place. The rank is currently closed at 10:00pm with alternative facilities being made available in St Sampson’s Square. We think it is wrong to encourage, sometimes noisy, patrons into the Minster neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning. The area has several residential properties as well as hotels whose guests deserve a good night’s rest!

Charging points in San Francisco

Gale Lane clean up requested

We’ve asked for detritus to be cleared from near homes at the top end of Gale Lane.

Gale Lane clean up needed

We’ve also asked for the area in front of the Gale Farm Court flats to be swept. There is still alot of salt/grit on the roads and pavements left over from last winter.

Goalpost mystery cleared up

Tedder Road park goalposts

The mystery of the goal posts that suddenly appeared in the middle of the Tedder Road park has been cleared up. Lowther Street based Councillor Stephen Burton has written to the local media claiming “credit” for getting the goal posts installed.
Residents were amazed to see the posts arrive as there had been no recent consultation on the issue. Last year residents living close to the park had opposed the provision of five a side posts fearing that they would draw even more footballers into the small park.
Instead they favoured directing teenagers to the, much larger, designated playing field at the bottom of Foxwood Lane.
Residents wanted to see 2 metre high railings – similar to those that secure the Foxwood park on Bellhouse Way – installed. A proposal to do this was submitted by Liberal Democrat Councillors but it appears that the bid has not yet been agreed for funding from the Council’s “target hardening” budget.

Foxwood in Bloom

The judges came yesterday to judge Foxwood in Bloom and we await the results.
Over the last few years residents have planted crocus in the grass verges as well as daffodils at corners of junctions and this past year have planted up tubs outside flats on the Foxwood estate and have planted more than 50 saplings in Foxwood Park.
The judge gave us lots of ideas to pursue in the future and if you want to get involved then contact Shirley Gumley on 793437.