Pollution levels still low in York

Air quality remains good, and pollution levels very low, on Gillygate and at other monitoring sites in the City.

Traffic levels are, however, higher than were recorded during lockdown 1 last spring. They are likely to increase further from Monday when there will be a general return to school.

It will be April before shops and offices reopen.

Council plans to reduce road capacity at the Gillygate/St Leonard’s Place/ Bootham junction seem ill timed and insufficiently thought through.

The plans could increase congestion by 30%. That would delay bus services including the vital park and ride links.

In the meantime, residents can monitor hour by hour pollution levels by clicking this link

Meanwhile we understand that the Council will delay its assessment of the effects of road closures in The Groves area.

A review was due in the spring.

They are right to delay as traffic volumes and movements have been untypical during the Lockdown period.

However, it does mean that a reassessment of some of the more questionable aspects of the scheme – such as contraflow cycle routes – will remain in place as traffic volumes and safety hazards increase.

There have been no queues involving deer or cattle in The Groves during recent months

No safety audit completed on Groves traffic scheme

Contrary to claims made on social media a few months ago, a response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that no road safety audits were completed on The Groves road layout changes before they were introduced in the summer.

Safety audits area mandatory for changes to highway layouts. Their purpose can be viewed by clicking this link

It is without precedent in York, for a scheme of this size to be implemented without the Stage 1, 2 and 3 audits being completed.

It is of no relevance that the scheme may have been labelled as “experimental” by Council officials.

It appears that a Stage 3 (post construction) audit will be undertaken when changes to the layout have been completed. It is unclear when this will happen and what changes may be planned*.

The revelation is the most serious of several concerns highlighted by the Councils refusal to respond fully to the request for information. In due course, this may be explored further with the Information Commissioner, but the safety aspect (including the controversial unsegregated contraflow cycle lanes) may require action from Grant Shapps the Transport Minister  who has been scathing about the quality of some “emergency” traffic changes introduced post COVID. The Groves scheme was funded from the governments “emergency transport budget”

Unsegregated contraflow cycle lanes on narrow road have been heavily criticised

The Groves scheme was designed in late 2019 and so preceded the start of the pandemic.

The response also raises the question of just what the scheme was intended to achieve?

Most commentators have pointed to improvements in air quality. However, air quality across the whole highway network in York has been good since the start of February and the Council has been unable to produce any figures suggesting that The Groves is any different in that respect.

Some said that there would be fewer collisions. Accident data – mostly pre lockdown –   reveals that there were no severe accidents in The Groves area and that there were no accidents at all involving children. The severe collisions that were recorded happened on the alternative route for traffic (Clarence Street, Lord Mayors Walk, Monkgate) with most at the road junctions which are still open to traffic. Thus, the scheme may actually have increased risks on the network as a whole.

The Council has refused to reveal the pre and post implementation traffic levels in the area. There is absolutely no reason why the 2019 base figures should not be in the public domain. The Council instead promise to include the figures as part of a public review of the scheme during the first quarter of 2021.

With traffic levels currently running at about 80% of pre COVID levels, we are not expecting to see a significant impact on congestion levels on alternative routes.

The removal of “through traffic” from The Groves will offer residents who live there a quieter lifestyle. Whether it is safer or less polluted may now be open to question.

The type of closure chosen and its impact on emergency services, deliveries and local businesses has been subject to criticism

There is no good reason for the York Council to be so secretive about the scheme and it is downright irresponsible to include elements which increase hazards for road users without undertaking, transparent, risk assessments.

Recent accidents in The Groves area. May not include most recent incidents.
  • The Council has now published the changes it is making. They are;

a. Change the position of the road closure on St. John’s Crescent, to relocate it at the junction with Garden Street. Removable bollards will be installed for part of the closure to provide a secondary emergency access route to streets off Garden Street/St John Street;

b. Remove 2.4m of on street parking on St John Street (both side) near the junction with Garden Street to facilitate turning movements at the junction;

c. Change the position of the road closure in place at the junction between Neville Terrace, Park Grove and Brownlow Street, to address issues with some drivers using the alleyways between Neville Terrace, Eldon Terrace and Amber Street to bypass the closures;

d. Remove the parking bay adjacent to 25 Neville Terrace to facilitate access and egress for larger vehicles, including emergency vehicles.

2. Approve a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) to waive Pay & Display charges for parking areas near the shops on Lowther Street and adjacent to the local shop on Townend Street (between Abbot Street and Del Pyke) for a duration of 6 months.

Changes published by York Council on 20th October 2020

Outdated air quality report published by Council

The York Council will consider a report on how air quality in the City varied during 2019.

It reveals that, even before lock-down, NO2 emission levels had continued to fall in the City. The report cites a number of reasons for the improvement including a move to electric buses, anti idling measures and general improvements in vehicle technology.

Perhaps surprisingly, the report fails to analyse what has been happening recent weeks. Despite a return to near pre lock-down levels of traffic on many roads in the City, air quality has remained good.

Rather disingenuously the report author tries to draw a connection between COVID-19 deaths and poor air quality. No figures or independent research is offered to support the thesis.

As of lunchtime today pollution levels in the City were low.

Pollution levels in York at midday 16th September 2020

Traffic levels and pollution still below February levels.

Latest air quality monitoring information published on the Council dedicated web site confirms that pollution levels remain at low levels in the City. Even historic hot spots like Gillygate are recording the lowest recordable level of NO2 pollution.

Latest figures in York

The Council provides a weekly commentary on air quality

The Council has not published traffic level information recently but a national study by the Travel Technology Forum suggests that vehicle use is at about 80% of pre lockdown levels. HGV movements have returned to February levels. Bus services are running but with reduced usage.

National transport use trends

Cycling activity has fluctuated. Figures suggest that use is sensitive to weather conditions.  Relatively few choose to cycle in wet weather and this may result in a further decline as winter approaches.

The latest COVID restrictions may also further reduce the number of journeys being made in the City.

The introduction of street closures in places like the Groves has had little impact on journey times. Alternative routes remain lightly trafficked.

Around 20% of the workforce remains economically inactive. This may change when the governments furlough scheme comes to an end.

In turn any general return to work, and the reopening of city centre offices, may further test the transport system in City.

Coronavirus York updates; 24th April 2020

More Coronavirus cases and deaths in York

FIVE more patients with coronavirus have died at hospitals run by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, taking the total number of such fatalities to 96. Two of the further five deaths were at York Hospital, taking the total number of deaths there to 58.

Latest figures from Public Health England show there were 224 confirmed cases in the City of York Council area today (April 24), compared with 209 yesterday.

Sainsbury’s open longer.

Sainsbury’s supermarkets will be open from 8am -10pm and many convenience stores will open until 10pm or 11pm.

For elderly and vulnerable customers, the stores still offer dedicated shopping hours between 8am and 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

NHS and social care workers can shop in our supermarkets from 7.30am to 8:00am Monday to Saturday before they open. 

This afternoon there was only ONE person waiting in the queue outside Sainsbury’s local store on Beckfield Lane

Micro business grants

Launched 3 weeks ago, the £1 million York Council micro business grant scheme continues to have a low profile in the City. Although the Council has boasted of its success in administering quickly central government business grants, it has been less forthcoming about the success of its own grant systems.

The scheme had been targeted at “providing £1 million in support to help York’s small and micro businesses” who were set to miss out on government support. The  micro business grants scheme would deliver grants of up to £1000 to 1000 self-employed, micro and small businesses who need it most. 

No progress report on the scheme has been published.

There is a similar lack of performance information on financial assistance schemes for  individual residents.

Supply chain and staffing concerns at York Council

 An internal memo from the Council has said “At this point (public) services are well placed and working as well as could be expected. The main risks as we move towards the peak will be staffing availability and increasingly the closing down of the supply chain”. The nature of the supply chain jeopardy has not been spelled out.

The Council also goes on to say, “ The economic impact will be significant and there is likely to be a new normal appearing across the economy as people have embraced new technologies and homeworking over the last few weeks. Planning to ensure the council deals effectively with anticipated surges in demand on services as things return to normal is expected to start when we have greater clarity over the likely extension of the current lockdown”.

The Council has refused to release a copy of its “business continuity plan” (BCP) to a prominent local Councillor. The decision has fuelled concerns that the authority may not have been as well prepared for a civil emergency as had been previously expected.

Other Councils have published their BCPs “on line”

Scam Emails

The police are reporting a substantial increase in the number of scam emails.

One apparently saw a bogus message from the Lord Mayor generated although the circulation was limited. It followed a similar attack on another Councillor a few weeks ago.

An internal warning note from the Council said, “the nature of the attack was social engineering i.e. the user hoped to illicit a response by targeting colleagues of the user being impersonated. It was also fairly unsophisticated in that it did not include any malicious links and the senders real e-mail address was not particularly well concealed”.

Separately North Yorkshire Police are reporting,

“A total of 9,473 phishing emails linked to sextortion have been made to the NFIB phishing inbox between 31/03/2020 – 19/04/2020. There has also been just over 200 reports made to Action Fraud in the last week.

Sextortion scams are a type of phishing attack whereby people are coerced to pay a BitCoin ransom because they have been threatened with sharing video of themselves visiting adult websites. These scams are made to appear all the more credible because they provide seemingly plausible technical details about how this was achieved, and the phish can sometimes also include a password used by the recipient.

The current campaign threatens that if the victim does not provide a payment within a specific timeframe (payments usually ranging from $1,000 to $4,000), which is requested into a bitcoin wallet, then a compromising video will be shared to all their contacts and social media channels.

What you need to do

  • Do not reply or click on any of the links in the email. You can report the email to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing.
  • Don’t be tempted to make the Bitcoin payment. Doing so may encourage more scams as the fraudster will know they have a ‘willing customer’.
  • If you have made the Bitcoin payment, you should report it to your local police force by calling 101.
  • If the email includes a password you still use then change it immediately.

For more information, visit: actionfraud.police.uk/sextortion


As Ramadan starts new advice has been offered to those celebrating Ramadan. Whilst asking people to stay at home this Ramadan it offers advice for during Ramadan. A blog has been published as Ramadan starts today, with more information to follow. The blog includes information and advice and messages of support from Muslim leaders

“On Line” Council meetings from 7th May.

City of York Council will host the next Executive meeting online on 7 May 2020 (The agenda will be published on 29 April).

Council staff have been working to enable and support new virtual meetings, so local residents and organisations can engage with Council business during the outbreak of coronavirus. This work includes supporting the requirement to host safe and secure, virtual meetings online.

Members of the public who want to speak at meetings will be encouraged to contact the Council’s Democratic Services Team, as usual, and register to speak.  Those who register to speak will then be provided further details on how they can dial into the public meeting and contribute.

There is still no news about the Councils plan for its annual meeting which was due to be held at the end of May. It is almost certain that this will have to be held “on line” with any ceremonial delayed until later in the year.

Air Quality

We revealed the least surprising news of the year a few days ago when it became clear that the absence of high polluting commercial vehicles and coaches for York City Centre during the current lockdown had resulted in improve air quality. The Council has now confirmed this and listed the effects on individual streets. 

The analysis shows improvements in air quality (nitrogen dioxide concentrations) compared to ‘business as usual’ figures for specific areas of York where the council undertakes regular air quality monitoring, including:

  • Fishergate: a reduction of 43 per cent
  • Fulford Road: a reduction of 28 per cent
  • Gillygate: a reduction of 29 per cent
  • Heworth Green: a reduction of 27 per cent
  • Holgate Road: a reduction of 32 per cent
  • Nunnery Lane: a reduction of 38 per cent
  • Lawrence Street: a reduction of 29 per cent
  • Bootham: a reduction of 16 per cent

Average nitrogen dioxide reduction across all York sites is 30 per cent.

Air quality in York – web site

esidents wushing to see how changes to movement patterns impact on air quality in the City can now go a web site which revleals ral tie and trend information

The DEFRA web site can be found here http://www.airqualityengland.co.uk/local-authority/?la_id=76

Not surprisingly, in the light of the economic shutdown, pollution levels in the City are very low at present.

The data may however provide ammunition for those hoping to see the City’s next Local Transport Plan include a proposal for a Low Emission Zone at least within the inner ring road.

Air quality in York shows further improvement

A six-year trend in air pollution reduction means that two of York’s three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) could be withdrawn in the next two years.

Falling concentrations of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is mainly from traffic, means that it is no longer having a health impact on people in those areas.

City of York Council’s annual air quality status report is being presented to the executive member for environment on 7 August for a decision-making session.

The report shows that the Salisbury Terrace AQMA has had nitrogen dioxide concentrations consistently below the level where it affects health for the last four years, so the AQMA for this area is recommended to be revoked.

The Fulford Road AQMA has been showing that, while average levels of pollutants are continuing to fall across the whole area, one location continues to show higher than permitted levels. Should another year of monitoring levels indicate a continued decline, that AQMA may be recommended to be reduced or revoked in 12 months time.

In the meantime, increased concentrations of NOmonitored on Coppergate could mean that, depending on monitoring data submitted early in 2018, the boundary of the city centre AQMA boundary may need to be amended. However changes in traffic restrictions and buses on this route may be responsible for the change in concentrations.

York’s Low Emission Strategy continues to deliver the air quality improvement measures in York’s third Air Quality Action Plan including:

  • 14% of York’s taxis have converted from diesel to ultra low emission electric hybrids since York’s unique taxi incentives and

    Electric buses have been introduced in York

  • new taxi licensing policy specifying minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis
  • encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transport to beat congestion and pollution through the Local Transport Plan and i-Travel York
  • introducing electric buses on two Park&Ride routes with a third to be delivered via the new Park & Ride contract
  • retrofitting the world’s first electric double-decker sightseeing bus with plans to convert a further five diesel buses to full electric drive
  • City of York Council has been awarded £816,000 from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) after becoming the only Yorkshire location out of eight in the country to achieve ‘Go Ultra Low’ city status. The money will be used to fund a city-wide network of charging hubs
  • implementing a ‘pay as you go’ fast charge public electric vehicle recharging network in addition to 11 publicly accessible rapid chargers across the city. 1,500 charges – including those made by electric buses – are made each month and are rising on a monthly basis.
  • Low Emission Planning guidance requires electric vehicle recharge infrastructure, Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMPs), and emissions mitigation plans on new building developments.

Idle-Free Zone, Turn Engine Off Sign

We are also currently considering the following air quality improvement measures:

  • reducing emissions from buses by developing a bespoke Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
  • introducing anti-idling measures via signage and a new anti-idling enforcement policy.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment, said: “While our sustained work on combating air pollution has made a significant contribution to improving air quality in York, it’s important to recognise that much still needs to be done.

“Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts – especially in children and older people – including contributing to the onset of heart disease and cancer and we will continue to work with partners to further improve the air we all breathe in the city.”

The full report can be read at http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=870&MId=10031&Ver=4

Hyper electric vehicle charging points could be installed next year

York joins in first national Clean Air Day

Idle-Free Zone, Turn Engine Off Sign

The UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day (NCAD) on 15 June will see York schools, hospitals, workplaces and communities run events and inspire residents to act for their own health and the health of local children.

City of York Council is backing the day by supporting schools, staff and partners including the University of York, York Hospital Trust and also staff from Amey to take action.

Dr Ruth Purvis from the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the University of York will be visiting Copmanthorpe Primary School to lead an air quality workshop. The children will find out what air is, how it moves and how it becomes polluted. They will share their learning in the school newsletter and will be encouraged to make a clean air pledge.

Cllr Andrew Waller, the council’s executive member for the environment, is been working with Westfield Primary School on clean air and how important it is for children’s health.

Air pollution increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma attacks, as well as being associated with dementia. The health burden of air pollution is unnecessary and NCAD is all about giving everyone the tools and inspiration to reduce pollution now.

York Council report details air quality improvements for sixth consecutive year

The latest statistics on air quality from City of York Council, gathered by the UK’s most extensive provincial monitoring network, shows improvement across the city, although there are areas still above national targets.car-emissions

Areas with poor air quality include:

  • Gillygate,
  • Holgate,
  • Lawrence Street and
  • George Hudson Street/Rougier Street

The 2015/16 report will be presented to the Executive Member for the Environment at his Decision Session on 5 September.

York has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK outside London monitoring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other pollutants since 1999, and with NO2-specific monitoring at 340 locations*.Throughout 2015, NO2 concentrations have decreased at most of the monitoring stations in line with a steady downward trend.

In the Air Quality Management  Areas (AQMAs) in the city centre, along Salisbury Terrace and in Fulford, NO2 and particulate matter levels are now fractionally lower than nationally-permitted levels which could remove certain areas of concern.

These lower levels have been achieved through a stream of initiatives driven by the council’s low emission strategies. The most recent Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3), adopted in December 2015, sets out how York intends to continue to deliver its ambitious and pioneering strategy and to work towards becoming an internationally recognised ultra-low emission city.

The measures undertaken in 2015 to improve air quality include:

York air quality consultation starts

Residents and other key stakeholders are today being invited to comment on a new draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3) for York.

In March 1915 York Corporation Tramways Department was one of the very first operators in the country to use electric buses and to this day, there are still two relics of this pioneering form of transport in the City – the shelters at Clifton Green and Malton Road Corner, which were built as charging points for the buses

In March 1915 York Corporation Tramways Department was one of the very first operators in the country to use electric buses and to this day, there are still two relics of this pioneering form of transport in the City – the shelters at Clifton Green and Malton Road Corner, which were built as charging points for the buses

The consultation runs from 21 November to 2 January 2015 and provides an opportunity to comment on proposals to further reduce emissions and improve air quality in York during the next five years (2015 -2020).

The draft AQAP can be viewed online at www.york.gov.uk/consultations .

Paper copies will also be available in all York Explore libraries and at West Offices reception.

Support from the government’s Green Bus Fund enabled York to become the first city in the north to introduce a fleet of electric buses to its Park&Ride service and more recently a Cleaner Vehicle Technology Fund (CVTF) grant allowed Transdev to convert one of its tour buses to a fully electric drive train.