“Free” WiFi for Coppergate in time for St Nicholas Fair

City of York Council have expanded the coverage of free 24/7 Child Friendly WiFi across the city to reach Coppergate in time for the St Nicholas Fair.

Residents, visitors and businesses can log in to CityConnect free Wi-Fi via social media or by completing a simple on-line registration form when prompted.

York’s WiFi network has been available in the city centre since 2014 and already reaches multiple areas of high footfall which include Bishopthorpe Road and Acomb’s Front Street, as well as the park and ride and regional bus service.

Roy Grant, Head of ICT and Digital Services said; “We’re glad to announce the arrival of free Wifi in the area of Coppergate just in time for the festive season.

“With our excellent digital infrastructure, and the arrival of Christmas visitors and shoppers, it’s important we utilise our connectivity to benefit businesses across the city.”

York’s CityConnect WiFi is the first in the world to have ‘Friendly Wi-Fi’ accreditation; acknowledging the networks level of filtering and that access to pornography and child abuse websites, videos and images are blocked.

Free Wi-Fi is available in the CityConnect zones across the city, as well as in:
• libraries
• corporate buildings
• community buildings (BDUK)
• our older people’s homes

To find out more about the free Wifi across York please visit: https://www.york.gov.uk/FreeWiFi

More traffic congestion expected.

Coppergate one way traffic restrictions in place from Sunday, for up to 8 weeks

One way traffic restrictions will be put in place on Coppergate, located in the city centre of York, for up to 8 weeks from this Sunday (1 September).

This is in order for the owner of a privately owned property to carry out maintenance works on Coppergate.

These works require scaffolding and due to the narrow width of footpath and carriageway in that location, City of York Council is required to put a one way traffic system in place for the duration of the works.

From Sunday 1 September vehicles (with the exception of cyclists) will only be able to travel on Coppergate one way westbound with diversions for eastbound traffic via Tower Street and Piccadilly.

There will be a lane set out for cyclists at the Piccadilly end of Coppergate at the signals.

All eastbound bus routes which normally use Coppergate will divert via Clifford Street, Tower Street and Piccadilly.

Delays are expected at peak times, so please allow extra time for your journey. Visit www.itravelyork.info for more information about bus journeys.

The restrictions have been planned to be put in place for up to 8 weeks, although the works are likely to be removed earlier if the works are completed. 

For more information about roadworks in York, visit www.york.gov.uk/roadworks

WiFi for York community stadium…..but at a high cost

Those who attend stadium events on a regular basis will know that getting a reliable phone signal can be difficult. Even 4G is often not always available particularly in steel framed buildings. A free WiFi signal can be a boon for those seeking the half time scores from elsewhere or seeking to email an update home on how well the concert is going.

 Next week the Council is being asked to fund the provision of free WiFi access at the new stadium as well as at Clifford’s Tower and Coppergate.

The cost will be over £308,000, with £250,000 of this down to the Community Stadium network.

WiFi is currently available at local Community Hubs, Children Centres, Explore (Library) Centres and Libraries, Residential Care homes, Mansion House, Park and Ride Terminuses, West offices, Hazel Court, Registry Office and Crematorium.

Some schools also have the service but it is not universal.

There will be some scepticism about the budget priority for this programme. No usage figures for the existing free network are provided in the officer report.

There are other IT related services in the City which are arguably more urgently needed including the extension of the Councils “on line” issue reporting system and the reintroduction of “on line” and “on street” car park space availability information.

The Council even claims that it doesn’t have the technology to do routine things like the provision of a real time list of vacant garages on its web site.

These may all seem rather more urgent than allowing a tourist to browse the web from the top of Clifford’s Tower.

There will also be an ongoing debate about whether the costs of installing this facility should be a charge on users rather than taxpayers more generally?

Spy camera fine income in York set to top £1/2 million this year

The York Council has issued updated figures indicating the number of Penalty Charge notices issued on Coppergate and Low Poppleton Lane.

ANPR “spy cameras” are in use in both locations.

The figures for Low Poppleton Lane in April are the first to be published since the Council discontinued issuing “warning letters”.

456 drivers were fined on Low Poppleton Lane in April. That could bring in around £20,000 in additional income for the Council.

The picture in Coppergate is similar, with 640 penalty charge notices issued, a big increase on the same month in 2017.

Taking both sites together, the Council could pull in around £500,000 a year in fine income – far above budget forecasts.

The use of “spy cameras” has been criticised in the past as an over-reaction by the authorities to relatively modest traffic problems.

In Coppergate, at least, most penalty notices have been issued to visitors to the City.

Signage, although now legally compliant, is difficult for motorists to interpret quickly as they search the City for their destination.

 

51% of those fined on Coppergate are visitors

ANPR cameras result in 3625 PCNs being issued between July and December

The York Council has finally responded to a Freedom of Information request tabled in January.

The response reveals that fines totalling £218,000 were levied.

£83,580 has so far been received by the Council. Most (2586) paid at the lower discounted fine rate

Since then (in January and February) a further 1131 fine notices were issued. This figure was suppressed by the road works which took place in the area during those months.

Of the fine notices issued in 2017, 1854 (51%) were to vehicle owners with addresses outside the YO postcode area.

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

There were 346 successful appeals against the penalty charge notices. Most of these were from “out of area” taxis and private hire vehicles.

No outstanding fines have yet been subject to a formal recovery process (use of bailiffs etc) .

The cost of administering the penalty charge process in 2017 was £61,958. The process is outsourced to a company from the south of England.

The figures are likely to give rise to concern. The levels of abuse suggest that the signage is still not being readily understood by drivers.

Coppergate fine information on Council web site

There are likely to be calls for a warning letter to be sent to first time offenders.

The Council was criticised in 2013/14 when thousands of fines were levied on tourists in the City who had used the – then restricted access – Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

The resulting national publicity damaged York as a tourist destination, with its reputation only recently having begun to recover.

Visitor abuse of the restrictions is expected to peak in the summer months.

NB. The Council has not yet published details of the numbers of motorists fined following the introduction of ANPR surveillance of restrictions on Low Poppleton Lane.

Dramatic increase in fines issued to Coppergate drivers

There has been a  big increase in the number of Penalty Charge Notices issued to drivers breaking the access only restrictions on Coppergate.

The latest figures suggest that the York Council could receive as much as £1/2 million in fine income during a full year.

The Council originally budgeted to receive around £100,000 in fine income

The change has come since officials stopped issuing “warning letters” to first offenders.

Since these stopped in the summer, the number of notices issued has crept up to reach 801 in November the latest figure available on the Councils web site 

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

The main concern, when the Council chose to switch ANPR cameras back on at the beginning of the year, was reputational risk. The ill-fated spy camera trial in 2014 – which encompassed Lendal Bridge as well as Coppergate – hit visitors to the City particularly hard with many vowing never to return.

How many of the new batch of offenders is local has not been revealed although Freedom of Information requests should break though this secrecy.

It was pointed out last January, that Coppergate was deserted for most of the day and therefore the camera surveillance was unnecessary.

It seems though that the Council has discovered a major “cash cow” and now needs to maximise the fine income to balance its books.

 

York drivers getting wise to spy camera wheeze?

Coppergate fine trend

The York Council is reporting that expected income from ANPR camera fines may be as much as £266,000 below budget this year.

The cameras were reintroduced in Coppergate in January but have failed to detect large numbers of drivers ignoring access restrictions on the street.

As a result, a report to the Councils Executive says, “operational costs are not realising any economies of scale”

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

Although this may be good news for drivers, it leaves the taxpayer to pick up the bill for the expensive camera system.

We warned before the cameras were activated that, during most of the day, Coppergate was very quiet – part of the economic malaise affecting much of the city centre – and that the cameras were an over-reaction.

Penalty Charge Income from fines at City centre car parks is also £29,000 below expectations.

Traffic signals to be upgraded on Coppergate- road closure from Monday

Coppergate

Ageing traffic signals on Coppergate are set to be replaced by City of York Council from Monday 17 July.

Work is expected to be completed by Friday 28 July. To minimise disruption to residents and visitors work will take place from 7.30am-11pm, seven days a week.

To allow work to take place safely a full road closure will be in place. Pedestrian routes and access to all businesses will be maintained throughout the works. A fully signed diversion route will also be in place.

The work will include a full overhaul of the traffic signal equipment, including changes to the pedestrian crossing equipment to facilitate puffin style near side red and green man displays. There will also be carriageway and footway maintenance works to the raised table at the crossing.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption. Residents are assured that everything reasonably possible will be done to keep this to a minimum, however buses that normally use this street will be diverted and motorists should expect some delays and plan their journey accordingly.
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Coppergate ANPR fines upward trend

The Council seems to be struggling to keep up to date its records of fines imposed following the reintroduction of spy camera enforcement of the access restrictions on Coppergate.

Figures released, covering the period to the end of April, confirm an upward trend.

With the peak tourist season approaching, that trend is expected to continue