So where is York heading post COVID

There are signs of life in some organisations in the City as they begin to address the harsh post COVID realities.

The Council has issued business recovery kits which may aid social distancing particularity in shops.

The move comes on the day when the Centre for City’s releases details of how the health crisis has impacted on visitor numbers to the City centre. Not surprisingly the profile has changed radically with those travelling from the suburbs (both as shoppers and workers) now in the majority.

This will come as no surprise as foreign tourist numbers are, and are likely to remain, negligible. The next three months will be crucial for many retail and tourist businesses in the City.

The City is middle ranking so far in how well is is recovering its high street “footfall” compared to other Cities. It has a recovery index of 24 compared to the least affected (Aldershot with a score of 57 and the worst Cardiff with 11).

But it is early days and a more general return to work next Monday will tell us more.

So what needs to be done?

Clearly York’s visitor economy is going to depend, at least in the short term, on people travelling to the City from within Yorkshire. They will need to feel safe if they are to be persuaded to come.

It is vitally important therefore that such large spaces as exist in the City centre are fully utilised.

We understated that there are events planned for Parliament Street but it is less clear what use it will be made of assets like the Museum Gardens, Deans Park and the Nave of the Minster. Indeed, imaginative programming at the Minster – which could safely accommodate over a thousand people during periods of poor weather – may be vitally important in any marketing strategy.

All could potentially accommodate Arts events while maintaining social distancing rules.

York Minster and Duncombe Place, York
Duncombe Place

The Council has already listed streets which will be pedestrianised.

Incredibly it failed to include Deangate, one of the widest streets in the City and which could – together with the Minster and Deans Park- provide an ideal events space. Events held there would complement those planned for the other side of the City to the benefit traders and attractions in the Stonegate neighbourhood.

In the longer term better use will need to be made of the river banks and the City Walls but, for a few weeks at least, the City will need to concentrate on promoting itself as a vibrant, safe and welcoming destination.

It is time now for Make it York, the Council , the theatres, museums, libraries and other organisations to publish their short and medium term regeneration proposals?

Man fined £700 for misuse of blue badge in Duncombe Place

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of Blue Badge fraud in York city centre.

Christopher Wilson (aged 46 of Fox Howe, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough) was found misusing a family member’s Blue Badge in York.

Mr Wilson was seen by a Civil Enforcement Officer, parked on Duncombe Place, near York Minster in August 2019.

During the course of the investigation, conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, Mr Wilson was interviewed under caution and admitted that he was the driver of the vehicle displaying the Blue Badge.

He confirmed that the badge holder was not present at any point of the journey and was at home in Middlesbrough. Mr Wilson and his wife had driven to York that day for a social occasion and were running late for a restaurant reservation, when he decided to use the Blue Bade to park on yellow lines.

Mr Wilson was sentenced by York Magistrates on 28 January 2020 after pleading guilty by post and apologising for his actions. He received a fine and was ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge, totaling £701.

City centre temporary road closures for New Year’s Eve

Seasonal city centre road closures are being planned for residents gathering to celebrate the new year alongside increased protection planned to combat the threat posed to UK cities by terrorists.

Road closures which prohibit vehicles will be in force from 22:00hrs on 31 December 2018 to 05:00hrs on 1 January 2019 on the following streets:

  • Duncombe Place
  • High Petergate (Bootham Bar to Duncombe Place)
  • Minster Yard
  • Blake Street.

The taxi rank on Duncombe Place will be temporarily relocated to Exhibition Square (St Leonards Place) from 22:00hrs on New Year’s Eve. The head of the temporary taxi rank in Exhibition Square will be at bus stop ‘ED’. The small taxi rank on the other side of St Leonards Place next to the Bar Walls, will also be closed from 22:00hrs. Signage will be in place to advise that the ranks have been moved, and to show the position of the temporary head of rank in Exhibition Square. All taxi ranks will revert to their normal locations when Duncombe Place is reopened at 05:00hrs the following morning, 1 January 2019.

In addition, no waiting or parking will be permitted on either side of Blake Street from 20:00hrs on 31 December 2018, or on Duncombe Place from 06:00hrs on 31 December 2018. The taxi rank will operate as usual.

Normal footstreet hours will resume after the Christmas markets on 26 December, and then after the new year festivities on 1 January. These prohibit vehicles in the footstreet areas from 10:30hr until 17:00hrs.

People attending the event are reminded to please behave considerately to allow everyone to enjoy the occasion. Please do not bring glass into the area and take any rubbish home.

For more information about the changes visit www.york.gov.uk/citycentreaccess

Superintendent Lindsey Robson, commander for the York and Selby area, said: “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 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.  (more…)

City centre repaving consultation

The York Council is delivering a leaflet to all households outlining its plans for resurfacing works in the City centre.

Exhibition Square plans

Exhibition Square plans

They are right to do so but, in pointing to improvements planned for Exhibition Square, Blake Street and Fossgate, they lamentably fail to answer the question that will be on every taxpayer’s lips.

How much will these paving schemes cost?

There is little new in the leaflet.  The Labour Council changed the Council’s forward programme in 2011 putting the modernisation of Kings Square ahead of the Fossgate pedestrianisation scheme which had been set to go ahead in 2012.

Next in line were to have been improvements to Duncombe Place, which could have provided a large and useful pedestrian precinct.

But the Councils increasing financial problems meant that progress would inevitably have slowed.

Residents might usefully have been asked when completing the “on line” survey whether they want any of these schemes to go ahead or whether the money might be better spent repairing the roads in sub-urban areas?

The danger in the Councils approach is that the improvement of the City centre may become politically toxic.

Against a background of plans for a further £1 million cut in road maintenance in sub-urban areas, residents are likely to demand of Council candidates – at the next local elections in 2015 – a commitment to improving public service standards in residential areas.

The City centre may find that its share of available resources is reduced.