Residents are being asked to give their views on what needs to be done to revive the Front Street area.
The York Council recently announced that it will invest in the Front Street area and the expectation is that experts will recommend a way forward. Although the shopping area has had a boost over recent years, with the Acomb Alive traders organisation holding a series of events, many feel that a change to the physical layout of the precinct will be necessary to tempt larger numbers of shoppers back to the village.
A monthly street market has been very popular and it is hoped to build on its success.
The next market is being held on Saturday 24th June.
Responding to a door to door survey, recently launched in the Hamilton Drive and St Stephens Road areas by the Westfield ward Councillors team, residents have already indicated how often they use services on the Front Street area.
The majority have said that they frequently use the supermarket, local shops and the bank/post office facilities.
Residents are also being asked to rate several potential improvements. These include:
- Providing a level surface across the whole of the pedestrian area including the forecourts
- Improving litter and rubbish management
- Providing a “big screen” focal point
- Generally repaint and refurbish street furniture and signs
- Providing easier parking
- Narrowing the carriageway in “old” Front St to make it more pedestrian friendly.
The hope is that the survey will prompt some original thinking by both residents and commercial users in the area.
A public meeting has been scheduled to take place, on 12th July at 6:30pm in the Gateway Centre, to discuss how the Front St area can be regenerated.
In the meantime, interested parties can complete a brief on line survey by clicking here
It’s been a quiet start to Christmas Eve. Morning storms appear to have passed by now, leaving a lot of surface water on roads and footpaths where drains are blocked. There are particular problems on Mount Vale, under the Leeman Road railway bridges and on Carr Lane.
Only a few people have ventured into the City centre and there are car parking spaces available in most car parks. They may however fill up quickly this afternoon as public transport begins to wind down.
The St Nicholas fair is now closed although the Shambles Market is doing some brisk business.
There is a lot of tree detritus and fallen leaves on the paths so care is required.
A watchdog committee will be told next week what the targets for the Councils wholly owned “Make it York” (MIY) organisation will be.
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.
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.
More of the York Councils decision making powers are to be handed over to an unelected body tomorrow (Tuesday) The Council’s Cabinet is being recommended to approve the transfer of “marketing, culture, tourism and business development” activities to a company called “Make it York” (MiY).
The new company will have a budget of around £4 million a year. Much of this will come from Tourism activities although the Council will transfer its Shambles Market (£241k), Tourism (£232k), Science City (£100k), Economic Development (£337k) and Cultural activities (£229k) budgets into MiY control.
As well as tourism, the company will be responsible for an eclectic range of activities including “Christmas Lights”.
The outline business plan for the organisation can be read by clicking here
The Council’s interests on the Board of Directors will be represented by the Council Leader and Chief Executive.
Some will feel that the second Council seat should be allocated to an opposition Leader, rather than to a paid official. This might improve the chances of a consensus emerging on priorities and could give the company a life expectancy extending beyond May 2015
The move comes in the wake of a series of decisions which have, in recent years, steadily eroded taxpayers influence over how their money is spent.
As well as the Museums Trust, the City’s Libraries and Archives are now managed by an independent organisation. In fairness, both these organisations have so far been relatively benign and seem to be sensitive to users views.
Strategic transport and economic development powers have been partly transferred to a “combined authority” which has its headquarters in Leeds. Feedback from this body is poor with the decision making process largely impenetrable for the average resident. There will be big questions to be answered about York’s future in the “Leeds City Region” after the Council elections take place in May.
In the meantime, the major criticisms of “Make it York” remain its lack of accountability, transparency and its attitude to the needs of the City’s suburbs.
It could quickly enhance its reputation by publicly backing the Front Street regeneration project.
Residents will want to see the organisation making its decisions in public and will expect it to – voluntarily – agree to respond to Freedom of Information requests.