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.

Green bin charges

It is over 2 years since the York Council started to charge for emptying second and subsequent green (garden waste) bins.

The charge was controversial at the time as there were fears that excess compostable waste would simply be put into grey bins and subsequently land-filled.

There were also concerns that some might be fly tipped.

New figures reveal that the numbers prepared to pay for green bin emptying have fallen.

  • The number of subscriptions in 2015 was 1,320
  • The number of subscriptions in 2016 was 1,146

Green bins currently cost £37 a year to empty.

The Council therefore has secured an income, through the charges, of around £43,000 a year.

Landfill Tax cost York taxpayers over £4 million in 2016.

This years figure is expected to be even higher.

Waste trends

 

 

 

 

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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York Council Car parks: detailed income figures published

Following concerns about declining use of City centre car parks, the York Council has published details of the monthly income that it is receiving from each.

Car park income Nov 2015

In total the York Council receives over £5 million from off street car parking charges each year. 

Recent reports pointed to a “below budget” performance which was partially blamed on unreliable barrier equipment installed in July 2014  at the Marygate car park. The detailed figures now published, suggest that the 12 month rolling average income for Marygate saw use of the facility decline until as recently as August of this year.

It has yet to return to pre-barrier levels of use.

The Council’s policy on charging has been heavily criticised over recent years with the, then Labour controlled, Council imposing huge increases in prices – particularly for residents. A paid for “Minster Badge” was introduced but this has failed to attract the expected number of purchasers.

These factors were blamed for a decline in use – and the migration of shoppers to out of town retail outlets.

The Council  is set to review its parking policy at a meeting being held on 28th January  Before that, in December, it is expected to set its parking charges for the forthcoming financial year.

Art Gallery/Museums admission charges – compromise proposed

art gallery 19880sIt looks like the Council and York Museums Trust will agree a compromise on admission charges next week.

A report to an Executive meeting offers a number of changes to the original plan and could give residents a 50% reduction on costs if they are a regular visitor.

  1. The YMT Card (giving unlimited access) will cost just £10 for YorkCard holders (compared to £20 for a non-resident). Children up to 16 will be free
  2. Continued free access will be provided for York residents during the Residents‟ Festival and for other special occasions and events determined by YMT
  3. Those YorkCard holders who would have qualified for a discounted YMT card under (17-24 year olds and those on particular benefits) will now be entitled to a free YMT card.

In return for this provision, the Council will reimburse YMT £5 for each free YMT card issued with a target of 4,000 cards p.a. (Customers who have already bought an Access Card will be reimbursed by YMT)

 In addition, YMT have offered to make available free tickets to YMT‟s venues to vulnerable and hard to reach groups who would not otherwise make use of the museums and gallery.

Examples of the groups include:

  • People with mental health issues and their befrienders
  • Young carers
  • Residents of older person‟s homes and their carers

The deal means that many York residents would still pay an entrance fee of £7-50 for a casual visit. That’s a lot if accompanied by friends and family from outside the City, but not as much as may be charged in some other countries.

It is a shame that some way of merging the Yorkcard and Museums card could not be found.

In the end the Museums Trust and the Libraries (who issue the Yorkcard) may both be losers.

151 social care customers in payment arrears in York

Social care Coins-300x225In 2014, 3843 customers were charged for social care services in York. That was up from the 3479 figure seen in 2013.

11 people were granted a waiver of charges last year.

The number  of customers with arrears in payment of social care charges was 151 in 2014.That is a reduction compared to  the 179 who were in arrears during the previous year.

Only one customer was taken to court by the Council to enforce payment of care charges last year

 

UPDATE Art Gallery to press ahead with plans to charge everyone £7-50 entry charge

50% discount on season ticket agreed for YorkCard holders

UPDATE: A trust spokesman has now said that “people with an existing York Card -including one bought today – would still be able to gain free admission to the Castle Museum and Yorkshire Museum tomorrow and until the card expired. Cards bought after today will not give the same benefits”.

Art gallery charges

 

A Press Release has confirmed that the YMT plans to charge residents £7.50 for entry to the Art Gallery from tomorrow, but they will offer all York Card holders 50% off the standard price of the annual “YMT Card”. That means that a YMT card will cost residents  £11 (£10 with a direct debit)

Children under 16 continue to have free entry. There is also a discount (to £4) for some claimants*.

In doing so the YMT will be in breech of the terms of the lease they hold on the Art Gallery and Castle Museum.

In our view they would have been wiser to continue to offer YorkCard holders free entry at least until the Council had considered the matter further at their September meeting (see UPDATE above

The YMT has not said whether it will make refunds to those YorkCard holders who had purchased season tickets before the latest discount was announced.

* Access tickets: up to 50% discount for visitors aged 17-24 or in receipt of Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income–based Job seeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Income Support. Evidence may be required.

The York Council has not yet said when, or even if, it will commence legal proceedings to enforce the lease restriction

Cllr Nigel Ayre comments:

“It is surprising that the York Museums Trust has pushed on with its proposals. On Wednesday there was cross-party support for the charging plans to be halted ahead of further discussions taking place.

“However, I am pleased to see that following my decision last night the Trust has at least offered a 50% discount to York Card holders for the annual pass. This is a step in the right direction and an example of the further concessions we have been pushing for. It hopefully does give us a platform for further dialogue going forward.”

NB. The York Museums Trust is also seeking to appoint new Trustees. However intersted individuals only have until tomorrow (1st August) to submit their CVs

Museums/Art Gallery charges

art gallery 19880sThe first “open” decision being taken,  involving cross party debate, by the new Council, addresses the issue of charging residents who want to visit the Art Gallery and Museums in the City. The meeting on 29th July, is open to the public and there is an opportunity for residents to make representations.

Unfortunately, the background report is poor lacking basic statistics which are essential to fully understand what options are available.

It notably  fails to provide a breakdown of visitor numbers separating residents from others. A demographic breakdown is also missing.

Council officials have  not provided cost centre income and expenditure figures either historical or in business plan format.

They simply say that n additional Council grant of £700,000 would be required to continue “free” entry for residents.

Clearly the present Council have been dropped in a  hole by the previous administration which agreed to fund capital improvement works – the Art Gallery has been closed for 2 years now – in the belief that this would encourage more paying visitors (and thereby make up for a reduction in revenue grant of £900,000 over the last 3 years).

What is unclear is what agreement the Labour administration came to with the Museums Trust on the way that the reduced grant would be funded. The suspicion remains that Labour did a deal on the re-introduction of charges but were unwilling to publicise it before the Council elections.

So where next?

The York Museums Trust is now  a £10 million a year business following the decision, taken in the last decade, to transfer management responsibility for Museums and the Art Gallery to it.

Ironically when the transfer was made (the assets remain in the ownership of the Council) one of the Trust’s first acts was to scrap admission charges at the Art Gallery.  

That action has now returned to haunt them as they are seeking to impose a £7-50p entry charge when the newly refurbished gallery re-opens in the autumn

Compared to entry charges at other venues in the City (Minster is £10, Jorvik £10-25, Railway Museum – free) and  elsewhere in the world higher charges apply (Museum of Modern Art in New York is $25), the fee is relatively small. Under current proposals, York residents would get free entry on 2 days a year.

There is now no way back for the Council. Its budget was shot to pieces by the “gap year” antics of the last inexperienced Labour Leadership.

The, now coalition run, Council  is rightly trying to bring street level public service standards up to an acceptable (safe) level. It doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds available to increase art gallery subsidies.

All that the new Council can hope to do is negotiate a reduced “casual” entry fee for YorkCard holders.  £5 might be regarded by many as reasonable, if children were given free entry.  

Such a concession might be seen as an acknowledgement of the 10% of its income that the Museums Trust gets from York Council Taxpayers.

If this meant non Yorkcard holder paying more, then we suspect few would complain.

But first the York Council and the Museums Trust must ensure that all the facts are on the table.

York Council set to increase charges by 3 times inflation rate from Jan 1st

Labour have published a list of the increases in charges that they intend to make from the end of the month.

Bulky waste removal charges increase to £40.

Bulky waste removal charges increase to £40.

Most are around 5% (compared to the current inflation rate of 1.3%)

But there are some huge increases included.

The Burton Stone Community Centre hire charges are set to increase by 25% (main Hall). There will be a suspicion that this increase is a further attempt to drive out users who have already petitioned against the Councils plans for the centre.

Bulky household waste collection charges will get a 9% hike. It will cost £40 to get rid of up to 10 bulky items. Again this may be connected with Labours plans to charge for green bin emptying and to reduce the frequency of bin collections.

A full list can be seen by clicking here. No consultations on the proposals have taken place and the Council’s papers don’t include any indication of the number of users which each service has.

The council claims that the price increase will raise additional income of £146k  in 2015/16. This is mainly from Bereavement Services (£88k) and Registrars (£25k).

Labour will consider further increases in prices in January when car parking, care services and planning charges will be amongst those under consideration.

Increased charges. Click for full list

Increased charges. Click for full list

Labour planning new household waste site charges

Reliable sources in West Offices have confirmed that Labour intend to impose new charges – for non recyclable rubbish -taken to sites like Hazel Court.

Bed dumped in field off Askham Lane

Bed dumped in field off Askham Lane

At the moment residents can take items to the “tip” free of charge.

The proposed charge – unlikely to be admitted by Labour until the Westfield by election is out of the way – follow on from the closure of the Beckfield Lane household waste recycling site and an 13% increase in the cost of having up to 10 bulky items removed by the Council.

Bulky waste removal now costs £36.75p

Second green waste bins are now charged for and Labour are understood to be on the on the brink of introducing charges for emptying all green bins

The consequences of these misguided polices are clear to see with fly tipping an increasing problem across the City (see photo)