Bad news for small car owners in York

5.2 metre long hybrid behemoths could get discounted parking in York 

The York Council looks set to end the discounts available for the owners of small cars who park in central York. The decision will mainly affect Respark districts although some car park season ticket holders also stand to lose their concession.

In March 2004 the then LibDem controlled City of York Council took the pioneering step of offering Respark permit holders, who drove small low emission vehicles, a substantial discount on their parking permit costs. It was the first scheme of its type in the country.

At the time the discount was aimed at maximising the number of vehicles which could be parked in ResPark areas.  Then, as now, demand for on street spaces exceeds their ability particularly in terraced areas.

|The “short car” initiative meant that maximising the use of vehicles like the 2.7-metre-long Smart car could allow everyone a space. They also had the advantage of being economical, low emission vehicles although it was several years later that central government started to encourage low emission cars by establishing vehicle excise duty bandings which favoured small cars.

The Council used the new bandings to offer discounts for owners who bought season tickets for the Councils off street car parks. Drivers of excise duty bands A and B received a 50% discount.

Small cars will lose their discount entitlement 

Now the Council, is set to reverse its policy on encouraging small cars. Instead they intend to offer discounts on ResPark permits (and parking season tickets) only to the users of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEV). These are cars which emit less than 75g/km or less of CO2 per mile.

815 existing permit holders would be affected by the change.

In effect this means the only vehicles to benefit from a discount will be “all electric” and “plug in hybrid” models.

This is a step in the wrong direction at least as far as ResPark permits are concerned.

Many of the ULEV vehicles available are not “small”. They include models like the Mecedes S Class 500E which is over 5 metres long. The smallest is a VW e-UP (3.5 metres) which is all electric and has a range of 90 miles (probably less in the real world).

E-up would get a discount but must recharge every 90 miles

……and that is the second problem. These vehicles must be recharged after each journey. There are no kerbside charging points in ResPark areas at the moment and not likely to be in the foreseeable future.  Owners would have to drive to and from a public rapid charging point of which there are a limited number in central car parks.

The councils new plan – which will be discussed at a meeting taking place next Thursday –  is ill considered.

It seems designed only to increase the Council’s income from car parking charges. It mimics central governments excise duty decision which focus on a vehicles value rather than environmental impact.

It is estimated that the change could bring in around £140,000 a year extra for the civic coffers.

Rose Theatre shoots up but chaotic scenes at Castle car park

Contractors are making good progress in erecting the “Rose Theatre” in the Castle car park. It is due to open in a few weeks’ time.

Rose Theatre 10th June 2018

Sadly, all is not well with car parking in the area. What is left of the adjacent Castle car park was “rammed” before lunchtime today.

No “alternative parking” direction signs were in place. Space may be available at both the Piccadilly multi story car park and St Georges Field but neither are sign posted.

Car parking space availability signs still not working

The Council has been heavily criticised for failing to repair the parking space signs which are located on the arterial roads leading into the City. They failed about 4 years ago and, despite promises that they would be reactivated once the City’s gigabyte broadband network was working, we seem to be no closer to restoring a system which worked well in the last decade.

Nor has the web-based system been upgraded.

Anyone visiting the web site will be told all the spaces at each car park are apparently available.

In reality, the site hasn’t been updated for several years.

When performances start at the Rose Theatre things are likely to get worse.

On line web site information hopelessly out of date

Advanced signage is essential if more and more cars are not to circle the City centre seeking somewhere to park. They would potentially add to congestion and pollution.

The York Council has had plenty of time to sort out this problem.

City traders, who are likely to suffer most, have a reasonable expectation that facilities, which worked well in the last decade, can be reactivated in June 2018.

Littering fines to rise to £100 in York

Car parking charges up

Councillors are expected to day to confirm increased charges for many York Council services.

There is an eyewatering 33% increase in the fine level for anyone found littering the streets They will pay £100 a time (early payment discount £75-00) Unfortunately very few fines have been issued in recent years and litter remains a problem in parts of the City

The Council is also hiking the rent for garages. This despite many having been left empty. The Council could bring in more income by actively marketing the vacancies. Filling the garages would also reduce on street parking problems in some suburban estates. Council tenants will pay £7-43 for a garage while private individuals may rent one for £8-92. There are higher charges for high demand are while areas with a low demand attract discount rates

Car parking charges are increasing by 10p per hour. 5 hours parking at a short stay car park will cost £11-50

No elasticity of demand analysis is included in the Council budget papers. In recent years the Council has rarely achieved its budgeted income from parking charges

A list of the new charges can be found by clicking here

RingGo smartphone parking – questions answered.

The change of cashless parking operator in York last month provoked some criticism due to a perceived  lack of prior publicity.

The Council says, this contract represents very good value for money and has a key focus on innovation and how best to use new technologies, for example connecting our customers to local retailers.

The Council claims that 2 weeks’ notice of the change of contractor was given. Publicity mainly used social media channels and signage although a media release was issued a couple of days before the system went “live”

We saw little evidence of this marketing until 48 hours before the change was made.

We have so far been unable to find evidence that the decision to award the contract was recorded in the Councils decisions register nor does it seem to have been included yet on the contracts register.

On the other hand, we have seen no evidence of quality issues on the new service, so hopefully it will “bed in” and become the payment method of choice for car park users.

Car parking woes on York estates

With a survey of public opinion in the Westfield area almost half way complete, lack of car parking space is once again emerging as a key issue.

Relatively narrow roads and limited off street space in gardens means that many vehicles clog the streets.

So what to do if a vehicle is obstructing access to you driveway?

A Council response to a FOI request gives some information

The York Council says, “officers do not work 24 hours per day. There will be times late into the evening and early morning where parking enforcement is not available as is the case across the UK for Local Authority parking enforcement.

The issuing of PCNs is only permissible by the appropriate officers, mainly Civil Enforcement Officers (CEO), who have to witness and decide if a potentially illegally parked vehicle is parked illegally.

The CEO statement and PCN is legal evidence in itself and if challenged this can be used in the appeal process.

A PCN can be issued on a H bar but also on any vehicle that is blocking a dropped kerb, whether there are parking restrictions in place or not, such as double yellow lines.

The dropped kerb is taking to be when the slope begins.

Use of the parking hotline is anonymous and no names or contact information is passed to the Parking Enforcement service. If a vehicle happens to move on during this time and before the officer gets there then there is little we can do as the officer needs to see the vehicle in situ.

When reporting a vehicle to the parking hotline, we have a policy to attend the scene within 45 minutes where possible during the operational hours officers are working.

Parking Hotline number tel: 0800 1381119

More details click here

Quiet in York centre this Christmas Eve …. so far

It’s been a quiet start to Christmas Eve. Morning storms appear to have passed by now, leaving a  lot of surface water on roads and footpaths where drains are blocked. There are particular problems on Mount Vale, under the Leeman Road railway bridges and on Carr Lane.

Only a few people have ventured into the City centre and there are car parking spaces available in most car parks. They may however fill up quickly this afternoon as public transport begins to wind down.

The St Nicholas fair is now closed although the Shambles Market is doing some brisk business.

There is a lot of tree detritus and fallen leaves on the paths so care is required.

shambles-market-1100-hrs-24th-dec-2016

Shambles (Newgate) market is open

The St Nicholas Fair has ended

The St Nicholas Fair has ended

Slippery leaves pose a threat for unwary pedestrians and cyclists

Slippery leaves pose a threat for unwary pedestrians and cyclists

Innovative forms of transport may be needed later today

Innovative forms of transport may be needed later today

 

 

 

 

 

York City centre traders desperate for good Christmas

tourist-numbers-2016

Visitor numbers were down in September

It’s nearly a year since flooding brought chaos to parts of the York City centre.

Recovery has been slow with visitor numbers down as recently as September (right).

……but there are some encouraging signs.

City centre car parks have been well used this month and particularly over the last few days.

The Castle car park was full again today.

However there is little sign that the York Council has got the message and improved its “on street” and “on line” parking availability information.

 

St Nicholas Fair has been popular this year

St Nicholas Fair has been popular this year

Those who do find a space will find that the St Nicholas Fair is busy.

After a poor start, the “Make it York” organisation, working with the “Business Improvement District” (BID) team, have done a better job this year.

There is something for everyone – including traditional children’s rides in Kings Square – although not everyone will be impressed by the reliance on alcohol sales in Parliament Street.

run-down-city-13th-dec-2016

Some parts of the City Centre are looking neglected

Some parts of the city centre are looking run down.

Coney Street – once the most popular shopping street in the City – has more than its fair share of empty properties since BHS closed its doors.

The Council is also guilty of neglecting some of its street furniture and signs.

Here hopefully the Civic Trusts “York Enhancement Fundwill help to redress the balance. We hope that more people will buy Ron Cooke’s thought provoking book “Changing the Face of the City” . The proceeds go to improving the City

city-centre-christmas-lights….and the lighting on the Bar walls has been acclaimed by many visitors this year.

2016 may yet go down as the year when things turned for the better in the York  retail economy

 

York car parking chaos – time to act

Saturdays traffic log jam in the City was partly down to lack of information about car parking space availability.

The Council’s “on line” site http://www.yorklive.info/ still does not provide the kind of information that was available 15 years ago, we – together with many other Cities – had a system which showed the total number of spaces at car parks and the number of spaces that were free at each.

Council web site

Council web site

The web site is still available (click here) but it is not updated and indeed contains details of car parks which no longer exist, while the number of spaces at others is clearly wrong. It currently advises users that the Leeman Road “commuter” car park has -1 spaces.

The “on line” system has not worked properly since the Council moved offices 4 years ago,

Street information boards on the arterial roads, that indicated where parking space could be found, have also been removed.

The result is that large numbers of cars circle the City looking for parking spaces – adding unnecessarily to congestion and pollution levels.

By now the City should have a system linked with satellite navigation services which would guide drivers to the nearest available free space. Far from moving forward with this kind of the improvement, the Council seems to be heading backwards into the mid twentieth century.

Once popular car parks like the 290 space Piccadilly multi storey have seen usage fall since the space available signs were withdrawn

The Council may be reluctant to publicise car parks in the city centre as it – understandably – wants to encourage the use of park and ride, but it needs to make a policy statement quickly on what it is doing, and what it plans to do in the future, to deal with demand peaks.

The Council makes over £2 million a year “profit” on car parking in the City. It would be well advised to plough some of this back into resurfacing the car parks and providing 21st century standards of information.

Hopefully they will be able to do something before the two busiest days of the year (the Saturday before Christmas and Christmas Eve) when pressure on spaces will peak.

York Council aiming to privatise its £5 million a year car parking operation

It looks like the Council will be going into partnership with the private sector in an attempt to optimise use of its City centre car parks.

The car parking efforts of the Council have been criticised in recent years with several including the popular Castle Car Park needing resurfacing.

Castle short stay car park

Castle car park

Charges nearly doubled for residents  during the  four years when Labour were in office  although a price freeze for 2016 was recently announced.

A candid report, being considered at a meeting on 11th February, admits that the Council lacked the expertise to operate the “pay on foot” trial at the Marygate car park. The trial was forced on the Council by some commercial interests and might have had a better chance of success had the equipment been installed under cover at the Fossgate shoppers car park.

The Marygate trial was heavily criticised by taxpayers as the barriers and other equipment frequently failed costing over £50,000 in lost revenue.

Despite this, officials are recommending that the trial be continued.

Extension of “pay on foot” to other car parks would be one of the objectives listed for a new “joint venture company” which would see the Council link up with a professional car park company.

 If approved, it would mean yet another Quango running a key public service in the City.

NCPSeveral other options for the future management of the car parks are listed. They include selling off, what has been a cash cow for taxpayers, to the private sector although this is discounted as it would remove the Councils ability to influence traffic patterns and Park and Ride use.

NCP already run two car parks in York (Tanner Row and Piccadilly) while Q-Park operate the Shambles and Kent Street (Barbican) car parks.

The Council says that it hopes some existing privately run car parks can be incorporated into the new contract.  

Car park charges set to be frozen in York

 Castle Car Park ()Car park charges look set to be frozen across York to “help local businesses bounce back after the Boxing Day floods”.

Leaders of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Executive have announced plans to freeze charges in council-run car parks as part of next month’s 2016/17 Budget.

This means prices will be unchanged for the next 12 months at car parks including Castle, Foss Bank, Marygate, Monk Bar, Piccadilly, and St George’s Field.

Recent trends under Labour - click to enlarge

Recent trends under Labour – click to enlarge

The freeze will be  the first since the Council was led by the LibDems in the period up to 2011.

Car parking charges were held in check by that administration for a record seven years.

When Labour came to power, they introduced large increases. Over their four years in office, some charges nearly doubled.

In the end, the law of diminishing returns meant that the Councils parking income actually fell.

Although the freeze is likely to be generally welcomed, it fails to address immediate concerns.

We suggested a few days ago that the Council should reduce the charges at its Foss Bank “shoppers” car park at least until the end of March. 

Unfortunately this idea has not been followed up.

Instead the City of York Council has confirmed that it will contribute £50,000 to a new UK-wide campaign to promote York. Tourism bosses in the city say this will be their biggest ever marketing campaign as work continues to promote York following the floods.
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