York Council agonises over targets for “Make it York”

Coney Street decline

The Make it York organisation – which is owned by the York Council – will once again have only soft targets set for it this year.

A meeting will take place on 23rd July at which a Service Level Agreement will be agreed between the organisation and the Council. Once again though few numerical targets are included in the documentation.

There is still no mention of customer satisfaction measures.

Volume information is largely missing as are speed stats.

Narrative reports are promised  but without objective measures these are largely opinion based.

The Council currently contributes £299,000 a year to the organisation. It is responsible for economic strategy, business support, tourism and the Shambles market. It is the lead agency for cultural promotion. It claims credit for the success of the recent “Bloom” festival.

It has been criticised in the past for being very City centre orientated despite which it has failed to arrest the decline in shopping areas like Coney Street.

Its management processes remain largely opaque.

 

 

York Council announces public consultation arrangements for the Castle Gateway project

 

A consultation to shape a masterplan and vision for the Castle Gateway area of York has been launched.

In response to resident feedback on previous public consultations, City of York Council has teamed up with a local group called My Future York to develop a new form of public engagement.

The ‘My Castle Gateway’ consultation will be supported with events, talks and walks and residents will be able to contribute to the debate via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Residents can sign up now for the first in a series of guided walks around the area on July 22.

The open conversation will promote new ideas and explore the current high-level vision which proposes a major development of that area that includes Piccadilly, the Coppergate Shopping Centre, The Eye of York, St George’s Field and the Foss Basin. Initial ideas include the closure of Castle Car Park to create new public spaces, buildings, riverside walkways and a pedestrian/cycle bridge.

In collaboration with the council, My Future York through Helen Graham (University of Leeds) and Phil Bixby (local architect specialising in public engagement) are offering their time to deliver the ‘My Castle Gateway’ project. 

My Future York have developed a ‘three step approach’ to public engagement, which aims to develop a preferred masterplan option for the Castle Gateway by the end of the year.

  • Step 1: Creative community-led events to establish what is important about the area.
  • Step 2: Community-led ‘action inquiries’ to resolve any disagreements or uncertainty about the area’s use.
  • Step 3: Community action throughout the decision-making, delivery and handover phases of the project.

Residents can sign up now for the ‘Opening Up Castle Gateway’ walks on 22 July via http://mycastlegateway.org/events/.

They can also join the conversation on:

twitter @MyCastlGateway

instagram @mycastlegateway

facebook.com/mycastlegateway

York Council QUANGO set new targets

A watchdog committee will be told next week what the targets for the Councils wholly owned “Make it York” (MIY) organisation will be.

York's image to be improved  as alcohol dominates City centre economy

York’s image to be improved as alcohol dominates City centre economy

MIY has been the centre of controversy since it took over the management of City centre activities 12 months ago. 

It has just reported a £29,000 “profit” for last year …..but only after receiving nearly £1 million from local taxpayers.

Now the Council is saying that the subsidy for 2016/17 must be used to meet a range of targets which include;

  • Sustaining/creating “high value jobs” (Taxpayer contribution £179k) – This includes inward investment, account management with “500 jobs created above the national median wage”. In 2015/16 MIY claimed to have created 233 new jobs (against a target of 700) of which only 167 (target 500) where “high value”
  • Cultural/visual identity (£120k) – improving the City’s image (!), a year round creative lighting setup for the city centre, digital signposting and what’s on, city centre public realm enhancement and “the” Eye of York development.
  • Bring people and businesses together (£39k) – to “enable serendipity to happen” (!)
  • Community based economic initiatives (£30k) – includes rolling out Bishopthorpe Road “model” to other suburban shopping areas.

In addition, the MIY will promote the Shambles market and stimulate tourism albeit no numeric targets for these activities are included in the proposed “service level agreement”

What would success look like?

Most of these objectives are notoriously difficult to monitor. In particular, most economic growth is organic and would probably happen anyway without third party stimulation.

MIY has already fallen into the trap of measuring inputs (e.g. number of meetings held) rather than outputs. It is reminiscent of the last Councils flirtation with the exotic attractions of Cannes

If the organisation can make a “profit” then they appear to care little that local traders are squeezed out by high rents or that children lose their traditional pastimes.morris-world-missing-target

Performance numbers for 2015/16 will be considered at a “shareholders” meeting next week. They show that MIY missed all of their economic development targets during the last year

However, the number of potential tourists accessing Visit York information did achieve the 2 million target. The organisation also did better on business inquiries and conferences.

There are no customer satisfaction measures for city centre activities or the “markets” experience.

Total tourist numbers and entry numbers at attractions are not reported. Nor are hotel room occupancy figures.

In the wake of the City of York Trading scandal, the Council has promised a root and branch review of how its arm’s length companies and partner organisations are governed.

 The sooner that happens the better.