Local shopping streets like Foxwood Lane/Beagle Ridge Drive mostly continued trading through the lock-down. All but the hairdressers are open. No problems with parking today and a few shoppers around at lunchtime
Secondary shopping area
Acomb is York’s second largest shopping area. Its focal store (Morrisons) has remained open throughout the pandemic and has undertaken an increased number of home deliveries
Specialist shopping streets
Bishopthorpe Road has established a reputation for itself as a bijou shopping destination with good quality independents predominating. It became mired in controversy a few weeks ago when local Councillors campaigned successfully for the road to be closed to southbound vehicles. It is unclear how this has affected trade but the area was generally quiet today at lunchtime. Road works start on nearby Nunnery Lane this evening. Most shops are open. There was limited space in the dedicated car park
We’ll take a separate look at how the first day of the city centre shopping arrangements have gone.
As lock-down eases, concerns about the condition of some housing estates are starting to emerge.
The Council’s lettings and void repairs staff have made slow progress on getting empty properties back into use. As a result some long term empty properties have deteriorated. No management information has been published by the Council recently so the scale of the problem is unclear.
Even some “prime” site bungalows (usually very attractive to those on the waiting list for homes) have been empty for 6 months or longer.
While cleansing standards have generally improved during lockdown (fewer people around and individual staff members focused on local areas) there have been problems with dumping. Scheduled skip visits, funded through ward committees, didn’t happen and replacement visits have yet to be scheduled.
Good to see at least some public services continuing in York. Verges and open spaces are being cut today in west York. This will be appreciated by the many additional users who are using parks and other spaces for their daily exercise.
Also the pot hole filling team has been at work with long standing hazards on Foxwood Lane patched this week. This should make cycling safer.
Still a lot of catching up to do though and the highways side.
In September the current operator of services 3A and 12, First York, announced that they planned to withdraw service 3A (the 7-day per week evening Askham Bar Park & Ride service) and part of service 12 (specifically the section between Foxwood Lane and Alness Drive) as they were “no longer commercially viable”.
The Council agreed to subsidise the services until the end of the financial year, while seeking tenders for their continuation.
The cost of continuing the services is £24,000 for the 3A and £65,000 for the 12.
The Council is being recommendedto use part of a government funded bus service operators grant (worth £150,416 in total) to subside these two services. The Council already allocates over £700,000 a year for bus service subsidies (not including the cost of the free pensioners bus pass, which is funded from central taxation).
The Council is banking on the two services being more popular in the future and therefore requiring a lower subsidy.
It says demand for service 3A may increase when the planned paid overnight parking service at Askham Bar Park & Ride site comes into action in spring 2020 and that demand for service 12 may increase when the LNER Community Stadium (at the other end of the route) opens in 2020.
Improvements in other bus services
Through the “Funding for Local Bus Services 2020-21” scheme, the council has the opportunity to bid for £83.5k one-off funding in order to achieve one or more of the following objectives (which must deliver an increase in services and therefore the 12 and 3A services are not eligible as they currently exist):
“to improve current local bus services – for instance increasing evening or weekend frequencies, or supporting additional seasonal services in tourist areas.
“to restore lost bus routes where most needed to ensure people have access to public transport services.
“to support new bus services, or extensions to current services, to access e.g. new housing, employment opportunities, healthcare facilities etc.”
The funding must be used for the provision of local bus services- i.e. time tabled services open to any member of the public upon payment of a fare.
The funding available in York is £83.5k – equivalent to the operating costs for a single bus for approximately 8 months. It would not therefore have a major impact on service levels.
The City has submitted a bid for “a package of enhancements to routes which support York’s evening economy”
Residents will have a lot of sympathy with local highways inspectors who have the unenviable task of allocation very limited resources to road repairs. Poor weather has increased the number of potholes appearing over recent weeks. The poor state of highway surfaces is a reflection of inadequate investment in maintenance by the York Council for nearly a decade.
An additional pothole filling team is promised to be in place from April. Their arrival can’t come soon enough, at least in west York.
The Councils on line “report it” system now monitors highway defect reports. It is possible to see which reports have been read by officials. Several, reported over the last month, are recorded as “solved”. In reality the problems remain. The potholes have simply been judged not to be deep enough to warrant filling.
That is potentially bad news for cyclists.
Councillors receive very little in the way of monthly performance reports on highways activities, so its impossible to know whether the condition of roads and footpaths is getting worse or improving. The number of reports and complaints received is not routinely published.
Complaints about damage to verges, like parking on footpaths, go largely unmonitored. In summer it is a similar situation with highway obstructions like over grown hedges and weeds.
The Council will decide today whether to extend its graffiti removal service to include utility boxes. We hope that they will. The professions service introduced 4 moths ago has made a major diffidence to the appearance of parts of the City.
But we would like to see progress made in prosecuting those responsible. It should not be up to taxpayers (or utility company customers) to fund clean ups like these.
Some Councillors apparently want to use “community payback” to do the graffiti removal. From time to time, this might be an option but it does depend on a steady supply of offenders and there would be a supervision cost.
Probably best to give someone a full time job. There are plenty of other clean up tasks to do if, as we hope, graffiti volumes fall..
Many short cut “snickets” get a lot of use. They are vulnerable to litter while large amounts of leaf and other detritus can accumulate. Some are obstructed by overgrown hedges and trees. The surfaces can wear quite quickly because of constant footfall. Many seem to be neglected by the Council although they are an essential part of the plan to encourage more people to walk for short journeys. They deserve a higher priority for the Councils resources.
Potholes on carriageway are also a disincentive for cyclists. We’ve reported continuing problems and Gale Lane and Foxwood Lane today
Work is progressing on two major building projects in west York. The centre for the disabled on Ascot Way is now getting its roof installed. Modernisation work, on the adjacent Lincoln Court sheltered accommodation, is taking place at the same time.
Work has also started on constructing houses on the controversial Lowfield development. A decision on how the section of the site reserved for elderly persons housing will be developed is expected next month.