The report on plans to devolve responsibility for economic development activities, in the Acomb Front Street area, to local residents and traders has been published
It confirms that, of a £30,000 investment promised by the Council in 2013, only £13000 has actually been invested.
The balance of £17,000 may now be allocated to the Acomb Alive group.
However, these are derisory sums and will do little to redeem the regeneration project promised for the area by local Councillors when seeking election last year.
Major investment is required in the streetscape and a full time coordinator will be required if the many private sector owners are to become involved in the project.
A budget of least £250,000 will be required each year.
By comparison, the City centre partner (Make it York) has a budget of over £600,000 a year while even Monks Cross will get £1 million a year from the Council to fund a leisure development there.
Two years ago the then Labour controlled Council ditched plans to create a retirement village in Acomb on land at Lowfields school
The funding was transferred to a similar project at Burnholme school on the other side fo the City.
The land at Lowfields – and a similar plot next to the library – remain unused adding to the general atmosphere of neglect in the area.
The Council is to consider devolving economic development activity management to the Acomb Alive organisation.
Vandalised cycle stands in Front Street
The decision is due to be made at a meeting taking place on 12th April
The plan is likely to be welcomed by many living and working in Westfield and Acomb who feel that the area has been snubbed in recent years both by the Council and local economic development partners like “Make it York”.
The Front Street neighbourhood badly needs a regeneration intiative and local businesses and residents do have a key role to play in any improvement activity.
Residents are working to improve the appearance of the area
Occupancy levels of shops have improved with the economic recovery but too many new businesses seem to flounder within their first couple of years of operation.
Ideas like the establishment of an occasional street market have come to nothing while local Councillors have had to resort to collecting petitions aimed at getting local footpaths repaired.
The scale of any investment which may be on offer is not known and any regeneration project will need at least one full time management post over at least 3 years.
Something major does need to happen and quickly.
After pressure from the newly formed Acomb Traders Association (Acomb Alive) the Council allocated £30,000 for improvement in the area. There was a promise of flower tubs, better signage street-markets and outdoor events.
In the last 18 months the Council has only managed to spend £6,000 of this money –with which even Mary Portas would struggle to make a significant difference!
Sue Hunter, who runs the local Florist – Floral Elegance – on Front Street, is keen to see a major investment in the area to really pull Acomb around.
“Many businesses are investing in the area, and we have seen new businesses open, and we are looking forward to the imminent opening of Boyes. However, there is much to do to fill all the empty shops and to provide the range of shops that would make Acomb a thriving place to do business”. We need a shopping centre where the pavements are safe from trip hazards, especially for elderly and disabled residents who specifically come to Acomb.
By having a long term plan we can draw in more investment, and make the most of what the council can contribute to do their bit.
Delivery lorries are shattering the pavements, so they need replacing with stronger surfaces in a way that makes the area distinct – we have a great deal of heritage in our part of York, as a lifelong Acomb resident I say let’s celebrate that !
It is about getting the basics right, bringing back the litter and salt bins which disappeared, and restoring and area that we can all take pride in..
Traders worked together to put up more Christmas trees this year, and I worked with council staff and Gateway to put up the first large Christmas tree in the area for several years.”
NB Morrisons have confirmed that they will fill in the potholes which are appearing in the Acomb car park. Drainage issues will also be addressed.
Acomb Alive, the voluntary committee which is driving the regeneration of the Front Street area, have published a new newsletter.
Page 1 click to enlarge
Page 2 click to enlarge
In it they reveal plans which could lead to a street market being established in part of the (pedestrianised) section of Front Street.
This was the idea put forward a year ago by the Liberal Democrats, residents and traders but which received only half hearted support from the Council.
The present Council’s continuing antipathy towards Acomb is evident from the latest plans which show only a handful of stall spaces being made available.
Front Street market plan click to enlarge
What the area needs is a sustained boost to “footfall” figures if it is to benefit for the current improvement in the economy.
NB. An Easter Fair will take place on Saturday 19th April between 9:00am and 4:00pm at the Working Mens Club.
The fair will include an Easter bonnet competition.
Acomb Front Street is getting into the Christmas spirit with twenty five Christmas tree brackets for small trees above shop fronts being put into place as part of a wider package of investment by City of York Council.
£30,000 is being invested to support businesses in Acomb and to help act as a catalyst for community-led economic development in the area.
The move was stimulated by the formation of the “Acomb Alive” group last year.
The York Council had been heavily criticised by traders and local residents when it abandoned its Acomb Office base in 2012 and subsequently slashed the funds available for Ward Committees to invest in the area.
The investment will see £24,000 investment on Front Street to install electricity points, repair and replace flower tubs, remove damaged and unneeded street furniture as well as new signage and seating.
The remaining £6,000 has been granted to kick-start an events programme to encourage footfall to the shopping area and to hep bring a flavour of the city centre to the important local shopping area.