Too many drunks in York… too few Police?

A resident has written to us about rowdy behaviour in the City Centre this weekend.

Its an issue that has grown in recent years and one that will tarnish the City’s image unless addressed by the authorities.

Firm action is now required.

Next Saturday seeks a local derby football match in the City. That may put additional pressures on policing resources.

The timing of the match doesn’t look to be particularly enlightened.

Crowds add to litter problems in York

Its not just the transport systems that have been under pressure in York this weekend.

People have been pointing to issues with street cleansing in the City centre. Can’t be easy for Council staff and the BID team to keep on top of the problems with such high volumes of pedestrians around (not to mention the security zones).

Even in suburban areas we’ve been finding examples of full bins and badly littered streets. All have been reported for Council attention.

Full bin at Askham Lane bus stop
Same issue at the Cornlands Road shops
Shops forecourt badly littered

Bad news for City centre traders

Grim in Acomb

The latest footfall figures, reproduced by the BID team, reveal that there has been a 4% drop in visitor numbers so far this year. It is even worse on a year on year basis and is below the county average

That is a poor platform on which to approach the, normally busy, run up to Christmas.

In Acomb, the picture is slightly different with some traders reporting steady business trends. This is despite the lamentable performance recently of the Council in keeping open spaces, gutters and the areas around trees and street furniture free of weeds and litter.

Weeds still choke trees and seats on Front Street

The picture in residential areas is also disappointing with weeds disfiguring many streets

City centre economy facing a challenge

City centre traders are likely to be looking with concern at the numbers of people who are visiting the City centre. New footfall figures have been published.

The figures suggest that visitor numbers to the City may have plateaued.

Parliament Street less busy this year?

Long periods of hot weather haven’t, in the past, been good for York with some tourists preferring to visit coastal areas.

This years weather has been mixed.

Special attractions like the Rose Theatre, although generally successful, are not sold out while interest in events like the current “Great Yorkshire Fringe” are at best comparable with last year.

During June several York streets saw a 10% drop in visitor numbers in 2019 compared to the same month in 2018.

Early figures for July in Parliament Street suggest a 4% drop in visitor numbers during July.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of empty shops on Coney Street, that area has seen visitor numbers drop from 812,808 in June 2017 to 713,762 in June of this year.

There is no shortage of excellent Festivals in York while the work of the BID has seen several parts of the city centre tidied up.

The most important time for many City centre traders is the period between now and Christmas.

Lets hope that the City continues to be “best day out” in the region

Gradual decline in visitor numbers to Parliament Street.
Smaller shopping streets are doing better with visitor numbers to Stonegate stable and numbers in Micklegate increasing.

Popular York bar and restaurant wants to expand into Lendal

The “House of Trembling Madness”, currently occupying premises in Stonegate, has applied for a licence to operate in 14 Lendal.

The popular destination was recently described in “Trip Advisor”  in the following terms

Fabulous tiny pub for which we were glad we waited to get in to.  Great beers and old world charm – justly popular with all ages – and all friendly. Lots of food being served but we just tried the beers – some are 50% or 60% proof! 

The main problem for the license applicant is that the new premises fall within what the Council calls the “cumulative impact zone”.

There is a presumption against providing additional outlets selling alcohol in the zone. The policy was a reaction to increasing problems with anti social behaviour and drunkenness on City centre streets.

The Council has however been largely ineffective in applying the restriction and it is likely that the application will be granted when considered on 5th March. Conditions are likely to be applied to any new license, with opening hours one possible issue.

Details of the application can be found here 

So just how well has the City centre economy fared this year?

St Nicholas market popular this year

Traders in York are saying that they have had a very good period in the run up to Christmas.  The St Nicholas market has attracted coachloads of visitors, while the Christmas lights displays have been generally applauded.

Special events like the display in the Museum Gardens have added to the festive spirit.

The number of people on the streets  has been high during late November and December although the final figures won’t be known until after the holiday.

But, of course, everything is relative with overall visitor numbers, as measured by “footfall” cameras, broadly the same as they were 7 years ago.

There are of course peaks and troughs. There was distinct peak, for example, when the Tour de France visited York in 2014. But that boost was largely transient.

Some will point out that there are parts of the City centre which have been neglected. Duncombe Place is an unexploited opportunity, particularly at Christmas time, while Exhibition Square (outside the Art Gallery), is too often a deserted and windswept place.

Parliament Street remains a visual embarrassment made worst this year by the ugly shipping container village.

Footfall in Coney Street has shown the biggest fall with long term empty shop units mainly to blame.

Nor does footfall always translate into economic activity although several attractions, including The Minster and Merchant Adventurers Hall, are reporting a 5 year high in visitors.

January and February may give a more realistic set of figures on which to measure whether the City centre is bouncing back from the recession and changes to shopping habits.

We hope that it is.

Footfall trend in key shopping streets

Footfall in Parliament Street

 

 

York economy performing well but….

St Nicholas market popular this year

The start of “Business Week” in the City coincides with the publication of a progress report by “Make it York” (MIY). This is the QUANGO charged with developing the York economy and particularly the visitor sector and markets.

Reading the report, one might think that all was rosy in the garden.

There has been a steady stream of tourists visiting the City this year. They have partly been attracted by a series of festivals while other initiatives like the food court on the market have attracted favourable publicity.

The complementary York BID scheme has produced tangible improvements to the streetscape coupled with imaginative lighting schemes.

However, part of the success in attracting foreign visitors is down to the low value of the pound.

The MIY report is singularly short of figures.

One look around the City centre, at this the busiest shopping period of the year, reveals that key shop units are still empty several years after they become vacant. The pile of empty shipping containers on Parliament Street doesn’t help while the surface of the City’s most popular car park (Castle) is in an appalling condition. Advanced car parking space availability signs – and their “on line” counterparts – haven’t worked for over 4 years.

This all adds to a depressed feel in the “high street”.

The report – to be considered by a Council scrutiny committee on 28th November – considers progress against a limited number of targets. Some issues, like the shortage of labour and key skills, aren’t mentioned.

Nor is any attempt made to assess the impact that BREXIT will have on the City economy over the next five years or more.

We hope that Councillors, faced with a bland report, will ask questions which root out any complacency.

York City centre security clamp down as Christmas approaches

City of York Council is working with North Yorkshire Police and partners across York to help keep city centre users safe over the festive season

Our priority is the safety and security of all those attending or involved in events, and residents and visitors are encouraged to continue with plans to attend or take part as normal.

The public may see additional protective security measures at events this year, including the installation of traffic slowing measures.

While traffic to the city centre is already limited at busy times, the addition of chicanes which are being installed this week will help keep pedestrians even safer. The measures will allow delivery vehicles controlled entry at the usual permitted times.

There could also be increased security checks at some events and venues so we advise the public to arrive in plenty of time to allow for this. The current threat level across the UK from international terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and we reiterate our long-standing advice to remain vigilant and alert.

As ever we would urge residents and visitors to the city centre to get in touch to report anything suspicious by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or, in an emergency, by calling 999.

In the rare event of getting caught up in a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice. Run to a place of safety rather than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then hide and don’t confront. Finally, and only when it is safe to do so, tell the police by calling 999.

For more information on anti-terrorism activities, please visit: www.npcc.police.uk/staysafe
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So just how successful was the visitor economy in York this Christmas?

The Council has published the latest figures from its footfall cameras. The figures cover the period up to 25th December 2016 and provide a guide to the number of people walking around the City Centre.

December Visitor numbers to York

December Visitor numbers in York

At first glance, the figures suggest that impressions about visitor numbers may have been optimistic.  There has been a dramatic drop in the numbers on Coney Street, no doubt influenced by the high profile shop closures which took place in 2016.

Other streets are also showing a drop compared to 2015 when the Boxing Day floods took a toll on some parts of the City centre.

Even Parliament Street – which should have benefited from the ambitious St Nicholas Fair – doesn’t seem to have enjoyed the expected boost.

Of course, footfall figures are only part of the story. Trader turnover is a vital barometer while hotels look at room occupancy figures. The latter were buoyant earlier in the year.

Large and small visitor attractions monitor admission numbers carefully and there is some evidence to suggest that iconic attractions like the Minster did well towards the end of the year.

It may also be that the benefits of a cleaner, safer and better illuminated City centre – sponsored by the Business Improvement District – will make a difference in future years as “word of mouth” spreads the good news..

…. but in the meantime the authorities should be producing an analysis of what went right, together with a battle plan to address any failings.

Castle car park not full this week

Castle car park not full this week

Parliament Street quiet since Chrsitmas

Parliament Street quiet since Christmas

 

 

Visitor numbers in York – mixed trends

The latest footfall numbers have been published by the York Council for key shopping streets in the City

Some show stable numbers of visitors over the last few years.

In most cases the trend has been disappointing since the end of the recession.

The figures have been released only a few days after the Museums Trust revealed that declining numbers were visiting their attractions in the City centre. There have been some concerns about the number of vacant seats at the (critically acclaimed) current production of the Mystery Plays.

Visitor attractions and shopkeepers will be expecting that the large amount of money, raised by the Business Improvement District (BID), will be invested wisely and quickly.

 

Number increasing on Church Street

Numbers increasing on Church Street

Visitor numbers declining on Coney Street

Visitor numbers declining on Coney Street

Downward trend until recently on Micklegate

Downward trend until recently on Micklegate

Fewer visitors on part of Parliament Street

Fewer visitors on part of Parliament Street

Number outside Marks and Spencer stable

Numbers near Marks and Spencers stable

Downward trend on Stonegate

Downward trend on Stonegate