York City centre shopper decline started in 2012

York City centre "to let"

York City centre “to let”

The calamitous decline in the number of shoppers in the City centre first became apparent in 2012.

In that year, the new Labour administration increased car parking charges by 20p for residents.

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

In 2013 they went up a gain meaning that residents faced a 36% hike in just 2 years.

We forecast that this could have major implications for City centre traders.

The additional traffic restrictions have simply accelerated the downward spiral with “to let” notice springing up all around the City centre as shops pull out.

In the period up to 2011 the, then LibDem led, Council had frozen parking charges.

It had even reduced them at an innovatory “shoppers car park” at Foss Bank.

Footfall figures reveal that for the first 3 years of the recession (2008 – 2011) the numbers accessing the City centre were remarkably stable.

2012 saw a 6% reduction while this increased to 12% comparing September 2013 with the same month in 2012.

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

New traffic restrictions were blamed for the accelerating trend.

Meanwhile the numbers of bus passengers has also fallen away although the Council has so far refused to reveal the 2012 passenger numbers.

As we said yesterday, the Council seems to be frozen into inactivity with no real idea what to do to get itself out of the self created crisis.

Nero showed a greater sense of urgency.

York shopper numbers down 12% in September

There were 12% fewer shoppers in central York in September according to new figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

click to download full data

click to download full data

The results come from the one remaining “footfall” camera which is located in Parliament Street.

It confirms the downward trend from August when 4% fewer people accessed the City centre in the wake of the introduction of new traffic restrictions on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

So far in October numbers are down by 7% compared to the same period last year.

It has also emerged that the footfall camera located in Coney Street was a victim of the cuts earlier in the year.

The figures will cause serious concern to the retail community in the City.

Although seemingly more resilient than some other shopping areas –as evidenced by the relatively low number of empty premises – few businesses could sustain a reduction in the number of customers that has been seen over the last couple of months.

As revealed on this web site earlier in the week, over 8000 penalty notices were sent to separate addresses during September. Of these 5481 (67%) were to sent to addresses outside the YO postcode area, raising fears that the reputation of the City is being irreparably damaged.

Click here to download the full data.

4% drop in shopper numbers in York City centre during August

Figures released today, under Freedom of Information rules, reveal that 4% fewer shoppers visited the York City centre in August compared to the same month last year.

"Footfall" numbers in Parliament Street. click to enlarge

“Footfall” numbers in Parliament Street. click to enlarge

The blame for the reduction is being attributed to the bungled introduction of new traffic regulations on Lendal Bridge and in Coppergate.

The news comes at a time when visitor attractions were reporting an increase in the numbers using their facilities earlier in the year

In the period up to August a 16% increase was recorded.

This was partly put down to special events like the Mallard 75 celebration as well as the opening of the new York Minster revealed axhibition.

The expectations had been that a recovering national economy – coupled with good weather – would lead to a bumper August; but those hopes seem to have been dashed.

Cameras, that measure the numbers of people on Parliament Street, recorded a drop in “footfall” from a monthly total of 780,646 in 2012 to 746,349 this year

Figures for September and early October are due to are published next week.

Many are forecasting a further decline.

Over 5000 visitors will have received penalty charge notices in September and word of mouth is likely to have resulted in further reputational damage for the City.

More may choose to shun the central area.

There are, however, some hopes that special events like the Food Festival might partly counter the decline.

Earlier in the week the Council was reported as having ordered additional footfall cameras.

Visitors pay 67% of camera fines in York.

The Council has revealed the home location of the drivers caught by their ANPR “invisible policeman” cameras.

A total of 8197 separate addresses have received notifications of penalty charges. Of these 5481 (67%) are addresses outside the YO postcode area.

Coppergate bus lane enforcement plans Click to enlarge

Coppergate bus lane enforcement plans Click to enlarge

As expected about 70% of the penalty notices issued for the new Coppergate restrictions were sent to local York drivers.

On Lendal Bridge, the reverse was the case with 22% sent to York drivers and 78% to visitors.

The question was asked at last weeks Council meeting and Cllr Merrett’s answer was:

To the Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability from Cllr Runciman: “Could the Cabinet Member provide a breakdown of the ANPR penalty notices issued since the Lendal Bridge closure and Coppergate restrictions by residents living inside York and residents living outside York?”

• “Coppergate;

1852 individual postcodes recorded.

1280 ‘YO’ postcodes & 572 non-‘YO’ postcodes. This equates to a 70%-30% split

• Lendal Bridge:

6340 individual postcodes recorded.

1436 ‘YO’ postcodes & 4904 non-‘YO’ postcodes. This equated to a 22.5%- 77.5% split.”

York Council confirms income from Lendal Bridge and Coppergate fines

The Council has belatedly published the answers to question tabled last week about the fine income that they are generating through the use of ANPR ”invisible policemen” cameras in the City.

The Council is paying its Northampton based contractors £7 to process each Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).

The Council says


02-08 Sept – 1675 PCNs issued (4 days enforcement, commenced Wed)

09-15 Sept – 2015 PCNs issued (6 days enforcement, because of the Skyride event)

16-22 Sept – 1766 PCNs issued (5 days enforcement, cameras updating)
TOTAL 5456

Accurate actual income into CYC is not available at this stage due to the short time the system has been operational. Based on £23 / PCN (the £30 ‘early payment’ value of the PCN minus the processing and operating costs), this would equate to a potential income of £125,500.


15-18 August -1085 PCNs issued (4 days enforcement, commenced Wednesday)

19-25 August – 1741 PCNs issued

26-01 Sept – 880 PCNs issued

02-08 Sept – 850 PCNs issued

09-15 Sept – 841 PCNs issued (6 days enforcement, because of the Skyride event)

16-22 Sept -324 PCNs issued (5 days enforcement, cameras updating and gas works commenced)

TOTAL 5721

Accurate actual income into CYC is not available at this stage due to the short time the system has been operational. Based on £23 / PCN (the £30 ‘early payment’ value of the PCN minus the processing and operating costs). This would equate to a potential income of £131,500.

Lendal Bridge and Coppergate penalty income admitted by York Council. 11,177 fined in September!

The Council have belatedly published details of the numbers of drivers who have fallen foul of the number plate recognition cameras installed on Lendal Bridge and in Coppergate.

In total during August and September 11,177 drivers were sent penalty charge notices.

This would generate over £600,000 in income for the Council in just 5 weeks.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Some fines might be reduced for drivers who pay up quickly or who successfully appeal against the notice.

The penalty charge notice numbers are divided fairly evenly between Coppergate and Lendal Bridge although the figures for the latter are only for 3 weeks.

But it is a staggering amount and confirmation of the inadequacy of the signage marking the new restrictions on Coppergate as well as the trial day time closure of Lendal Bridge to private motorists.

The data is contained in an obscure part of the Council web site and has not been officially publicised.

Apparently the web page will be updated monthly.

The figures show no sign of a downturn in the numbers of motorists being caught, so the Councils annual income from the cameras is likely to be several millions each year.

It is much more than would have been raised by putting a congestion charge on the bridge and they do suggest that “road pricing” is what the Labour Council really wants to introduce next.

The publication of the information follows the tabling of a question on the subject at last weeks Council meeting by a Liberal Democrat Councillor.

Detailed information, on the reductions in the number of shoppers accessing the City centre, is still awaited.

A report on the first month of the trial, previously published by the Council, admitted that there had been no significant improvement in journey times for buses – one of the major objectives of the trial

Visitor hit by “double fine whammy” on York Coppergate trip.

A visitor from Denmark faced a £66 charge after falling foul of the Coppergate ANPR cameras.

He quickly paid the fine to gain the £30 discount but later received a supplementary bill from the hire car firm that he had used. They wanted another £30 plus £6 VAT to cover the costs of processing an enquiry about who was driving their vehicle.

The tourist explains that on a dark and wet evening in September he and his family decided to use their hire car to get from their guest house to a City centre restaurant.

Fine notice

Fine notice

They were caught on camera at 18:50pm – just 10 minutes before the restriction ends.

They did not see the signs (the new hours of operation of the restriction are in a small font) and – with some justification – feel that the invisible policeman (ANPR cameras) method of enforcement is unfair.

He suggests a rising barrier be used.

Others have argued for an amnesty for “first offenders”

Visitors see the use of ANPR cameras as a money making trap which will damage the City’s reputation.

In a separate development, The Council Leader last night accepted that the numbers of people accessing the City centre is in decline.

He was asked to publish footfall figures for the last couple of months and compare them with 12 months ago.

He hasn’t done so yet but he claimed to have put on line graphs which show City centre visitors numbers falling over an extended period of time.

Heavy handed enforcement of traffic restrictions – like the above – can only accelerate that decline.

NB. Questions on the amount that the Council has collected in fine revenue from ANPR cameras in Coppergate and Lendal Bridge were not answered at last night’s Council meeting.

The responsible Labour Councillor is being given a week to respond in writing before a Freedom of Information request is submitted.

£3 million a year fines income forecast for Lendal and Coppergate drivers?

Lendal bridge notice

Questions tabled for the Council meeting on 10th October will finally reveal the scale of fine income that the Council is now getting from drivers who use Lendal Bridge and Coppergate during restricted hours.

Unconfirmed figures, leaked by the Council, suggest that over 1000 drivers a WEEK are still using Lendal Bridge during restricted hours.

If everyone who received a penalty notice paid £60 then it would add a whopping £3 million a year to Council coffers in addition to income from Coppergate.

A private briefing to journalists accepts the 1000 figure but says that many drivers will successfully appeal, while others will quickly stomp up the £30 discounted rate.

Questions on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate tabled for Council meeting on 10th October click to enlarge

Questions on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate tabled for Council meeting on 10th October click to enlarge

Officials admit that bus reliability has not changed much since the Lendal Bridge closure, while traffic congestion is also much as expected.

The briefing comes from the same team that has yet to answer questions tabled during a “twitter debate” in early September. They promised then to answer all submitted questions and add them to the Councils web site.

They have singularly failed to do so.

So embarrassed are Council Leaders, with the scale of the contraventions, that they are floating the idea of an amnesty for first offenders.

A kind of yellow card system!

But there will be nowhere to hide on 10th October.

Not only will the scale of the PR disaster become apparent, but the impact on City centre trade will be revealed.

A question to the Council Leader, from Liberal Democrat Group Leader Keith Aspden, asks for daily figures from the Councils City centre footfall cameras since the beginning of August.

The improving economic situation suggests that there should be a major increase compared to last year.

We will see

A list of all the questions submitted for the meeting can be seen here.

£1/2 million in fine income generated by cameras on Lendal Bridge and Coppergate. Call for bridge closure trial to be suspended

We have discovered that during the first week of the Lendal Bridge closure around 1000 drivers per day were caught by enforcement cameras.

Lendal bridge after its clsure

This would have generated up to £480,000 in fine revenue, had the Council not agreed to an amnesty.

However, no formal decision was taken by the Council on the amnesty, so questions still need to be answered about who took the (admittedly correct) decision to waive the income.

An independent company is processing the ANPR recognition results for the Council. They are understood to be Imperial Civil Enforcement Solutions Ltd of Northampton. No details of the payments due to the contractor have been revealed or whether such payments vary in relation to the number of penalty notices issued.

The situation on Coppergate is equally bad.

Here the times of the access restrictions were extended with minimal publicity.

Many drivers continued to observe the old hours resulting in a large number of offenders.

The Council announced only yesterday that the fines for the first two weeks of the Coppergate restrictions – which were introduced on 1st August – had also been waived.

Why this information was not made available in August remains unclear.

Now the Council has said that around 3000 potential offenders have been caught on camera since the 16th August. Although some of these may win appeals against the penalty notices, potentially the Council could receive £160,000 in fine income for just two weeks of the restrictions.

That is equivalent to £5 million a year!

What must now be clear to even the most ardent advocate of ANPR cameras, is that their use to monitor traffic restrictions of this sort needs to be properly advertised in the period up to their introduction.

Their existence and purpose must also be clearly signed on approach roads.

The Lendal trial was rushed in by the Council and its implementation has been bungled.

Like the citywide 20 mph speed limit, it is being imposed on an unwilling population.

The trial should be suspended and a proper review conducted into the problems that have occurred.

The city’s reputation is at stake and the prosperity of the central area could be irreparably damaged if a halt to the trial is not called.

No “footfall” figures – showing the number of shoppers in the central area over the last few days – are yet available, but we fear the worst.

The blunders may prove to have put the worthy cause of increased pedestrianisation in the City back by a decade.