Busier in York today

A lot more visitors to York City centre today. Most of the car parks used by shoppers were full.

Never been a more important time for the Council to get its car park space availability advance signs working again. Same for variable message signs.
Nunnery Lane car park full
Half a dozen unoccupied disabled spaces at Nunnery Lane
Reason why some people don’t cycle into York? Bike -or most of it – may have gone by the time you return
Castle car park – York’s most popular with shoppers – full today. This is the car park that some Councillors wish to close.
Peel Street car park full. This is the privately owned car park which is offering free parking in conjunction with some City centre traders. Seems to be very successful
College Street attractions proving to be popular. Possible scope for something similar in the Duncombe Place/Deans Park area?
More people in Parliament Street but the space is still underused.
Improving footfall on Fossgate with a coupe of restaurants serving from outside tables.
Goodramgate foot street also well used today
People even queuing to get into Spark! Council may be hoping for a rent payment?
Monk Bar general spaces 95% occupied. Unfortunately, once again, only four of the 40 spaces reserved for blue badge holders were in use. Needs an early policy review.
Most embarrassing gaff by the Council is the – largely unused – cycling lane in the Marygate car park. The rest of the car park was full today. The car park is popular with shoppers and uses the “pay on exit” system. The parking spaces could be reinstated and cyclists could choose to use the service road if they wish.
The Esplanade short stay car park was at 80% of its capacity today.
Lots of space at the railway station car park. Suspect that LNER may have missed an opportunity here.?

Fossgate traffic; “We cocked it up” admits Council

The Council is taking urgent action to change access arrangements on Fossgate and part of Walmgate.

It follows complaints from residents and traders who have been unable to service their premises during the extended pedestrian hours.

It is understood that this has adversely affected trade.,

The Council says, “The current arrangements were installed as part of the Councils emergency COVID response to facilitate pavement cafes and reduce vehicles to support the Economic Recovery. Although consultation was undertaken, the businesses on Fossgate and the yards are reporting negative impacts. This change would allow resolve many of the issues with the temporary arrangements currently in place.

This change continues the displacement of blue badge parking. The council is conscious of this and has put in place mitigations including off street and on street blue badge holders and continues to keep this under review. Understanding the impact is a focus of the current consultation”

The Council has now agreed two modificatiosn to teh traffic order.

1. To approve an emergency change to the Temporary TRO currently in place on Fossgate, to manage one way vehicular access on Walmgate/Fossgate during the day through a “no motorised vehicles, except for access” restriction between 10.30am and 8pm, with two dedicated loading bays on Walmgate/Fossgate and a loading ban for the remainder of the street, and a staffed access point during footstreet hours..

2. To undertake further engagement with traders and residents on Fossgate (including Walmgate, between Fossgate and the junction with Merchantgate) and those gaining access to properties through Fossgate on what future temporary arrangements look like.

As usual the decision was taken at a “behind closed doors” decision session without any prior notice being given.

Big let down as Council announces “free” parking

Offer excludes the car parks most used by shoppers

Sad Let Down GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Council has announced that there will be free parking for two hours at some car parks which are located outside the “City Walls”.

Exclusions are Piccadilly, Marygate, Castle Car Park, Esplanade, Bishopthorpe Road Car Parks, Moor Lane, East Parade and Rowntree Park.

Of these, Marygate and Esplanade are both outside the Walls and are very popular with shoppers.

Castle & Piccadilly are also popular shopper destinations and are the best used car parks in the City.

The Council says, “The offer is valid in council run car parks outside the city walls including: Nunnery Lane, Union Terrace, Monk Bar, St George’s Field, Foss Bank, Bootham Row”.

Of these, only Nunnery Lane is located on the west of the river Ouse.

York Council says it “will offer free parking in July and August”

. The free parking incentive includes two free hours parking starting from Saturday 4 July, reducing to one free hour of parking throughout August. 

The free parking is available only to users of the Ringo Parking App if they park after 10:00am (seven days a week)

 The Ringo App is a contactless payment which helps facilitate social distancing and can be download from any app store.

A report detailing the proposals will be presented to a Council Executive meeting which is being held on Thursday June 25.

Castle car park – only half full this week.

Time to turn the clock forward?

Many people have regarded the last 4 months as a lost period in their lives. Many will be trying to get a sense of normality back from tomorrow when, shops viewed by the government as “non essential”, will be able to open.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of what happens over the next 4 months as far the the City’s prosperity is concerned.

Either we will see a “bounce” or the start of an irrevocable decline.

Impossible to predict at present. But the slogan “shop local” has an added significance now

Will the clock on Coney Street – stuck on 12;00 o’clock for months start again tomorrow?
Social distancing signs already in place. Parking will be banned on Blake Street
Coppergate will become one way although the Council have yet to confirm when the restriction will start.
NB. The Council hasn’t updated its list of ANPR enforced fines, for those misusing Coppergate, since last October https://www.york.gov.uk/downloads/file/229/coppergate-warnings-and-pcns-issued
Castle car park will close. The Council haven’t said from what date
There will also be around 60 fewer parking spaces at Marygate car park as a result of a (misjudged) attempt to encourage cyclists to ride through the area. An alternate plan would have achieved the same objective while losing only 1 space. Marygate is also a popular car park for shoppers. The photo – which shows zero use by pedestrians and cyclists – was taken on Friday lunchtime.
Market stalls and food outlets have been operating for a few days now
Last chance to see a people free St Helen’s Square (traders hope)?
Taxpayers will be able to see how £20 million of their money is being spent on work at the Guildhall
£350,000 of taxpayers money is also being spent replacing finger signposts (background) with “modern” direction signs (foreground). The Council has admitted that it doesn’t expect tourist visitor numbers to recover much before next April.
We’ve reported graffiti which disfigures walls in Post Office Lane near the station

Footsteets to be extended to aid social distancing and “kickstart” York’s economic recovery

York’s footstreets are set to be extended from 15 June. The main impact will be on disabled access.

“City of York Council is extending York’s footstreets from 15 June to increase pedestrian zones within the city centre and support local businesses by providing residents more space to social distance, making access to city centre shops and businesses easier”.

There has been no consultation on the proposals

“The actions are designed to support the council’s Economic Recovery – Transport and Place Strategy, to build resident, visitor and stakeholder confidence that York is a safe, healthy and attractive place for everyone.

York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, with many areas within York’s city centre already designated as pedestrian footstreets.

In line with the Government relaxing the restrictions for retailers this month, pedestrian zones will be extended to include the following streets:

  • Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square)
  • King’s Square
  • Church Street
  • Colliergate
  • Blake Street
  • St Helen’s Square
  • Lendal
File:Blake Street, York - geograph.org.uk - 1059330.jpg ...
Blake Street pre lockdown

The core footstreet rules will apply to the extension area, including no vehicles being allowed to access, or park on, these streets, including deliveries between 10.30am and 5pm.

During the footstreet times, barriers (staffed for an initial period) will be in place in Goodramgate and Blake Street to control access, but emergency vehicles and the Dial-a-Ride vehicle will be permitted access at all times.

The council is exploring a further extension of the hours in to the evening, to coincide with the reopening of the hospitality sector, alongside encouraging the safe return of residents and visitors by considering incentivised short stay parking in some of the city’s car parks”. 

Blue Badge holders can, as has always been the case, park for free in any council car park and can take advantage of using disabled bay spaces in Council car parks too. For more information on council car parks visit www.york.gov.uk/parking

Blue Badges

The council is also exploring where it can create additional capacity for Blue Badge holders elsewhere in the city by the 15 June, and provide further support. 

This will include shop-mobility type assistance and additional replacement disabled bays at Monk Bar Car Park. Guides will be available to direct people to other car parks and provide on the day information about car parking availability. 

Car park size reduced

The Council, has decided to remove 100 car parking spaces from the Marygate car park. The spaces are those located near to the railway line.

The Council says that, by removing this row of parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to “social distance” more easily.

That may be so but there are other “pinch points” on this route not least the relatively narrow tunnel under the railway line which links to Bootham Terrace.

What is surprising about this and other ideas aimed at countering virus risks is that it has taken the authority as long as 10 weeks to bring them forward.

It then makes a unheralded announcement without any consultation.

The car park is likely to become progressively busier as shoppers and workers return to the beleaguered City centre.

The lack of an holistic plan to sustain the local economy is becoming a real worry for some businesses.

Driver-less shuttles for York city centre?

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has submitted an ambitious final bid to the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund.

The core bid is for £406 million and includes some investment in York.

Some sections of the local media are getting very excited today about a plan to run a “driverless” shuttle service in York City centre. The aim would be to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

According to papers published by the Leeds based Authority, the service would initially be based at the Piccadilly car park although additional “hubs” might later be opened at the Marygate and the University.

There is likely to be some scepticism about the safety of operating driver-less vehicles in busy pedestrianised areas.

Other features, of what the Leeds planners call a FMZ mobility hub, include improved inter model arrangements (pedestrian/cycle), fast charging facilities for electric taxis and delivery lockers. Dozens of sites across the region have been identified for similar “hub” treatments.

Much of the bid money would be spent on improving railway stations including York.

It is claimed that a successful bid would  “enable direct sustainable access to major development sites, including White Rose Business Park, Olympia Park and York Central” and includes a contribution towards improvements to the A1237 York northern bypass.

There will be issues with some of the terminology used in the West Yorkshire centric document.

York is dismissed as being amongst the 20% of wealthy areas in the country with the region failing – like the York Council itself – to recognise that pockets of deprivation exist in parts of the City.  No investment for these neighbourhoods is identified in the bid.

The process serves to emphasise just how remote governance has become in Yorkshire. An unelected regional body determines expenditure priorities for millions of people with little consultation (and minimal communication).

Council taxpayers will be expected to pick up part of the bill for many of these changes yet their involvement in the process seems, at best, to be an afterthought.

Bad week for congestion in York

There has been a lot of congestion in York over the last week or so.  With many visitors coming for the Christmas markets and the “Winter Wonderland” the influx is potentially good news for the local economy.

But transport systems have capacity limits and these were reached at times with the Designer Centre car parks effectively full and Park and Ride services compromised.

Queues at the hospital car park have caused delays on bus services while even cyclists have found it difficult to find vacant City centre cycle racks.

Lenin addresses people waiting in a Waitrose queue?

Add in the arrival of General Election campaigners eager to be filmed with a backdrop of crowds of people and the new security barriers, which hinder movement in areas like St Helen’s Square, and things have turned decidedly awkward even for pedestrians.

So, what’s to be done?

We have criticised the Council before about its failure to utilise modern technology to ease travel woes. The real time parking space availability map was removed from their web site last year.

Many of the parking space availability signs which can be seen on arterial roads didn’t work for a long time.

On line site parking space availability web site abandoned by York Council

 A promised link through GPS to car navigation systems – which would help to direct vehicles to car parks where there were spaces – has not materialised.

As a result, vehicles still circle the City looking for spaces, which sometimes don’t exist, adding to congestion and pollution levels.

The York Council needs to raise its game.

On busy days, it should be tweeting updates on at least an hourly basis. Variable message signs on approach roads should be similarly updated. Local Radio has a part to play.

It would be relatively easy to add a CCTV link displaying the conditions at key locations to the Council web site. North Yorkshire already do this (albeit mainly to provide information on road conditions)

Modern problems need modern solutions.

Sadly at the moment there seems to be little sign of urgency at West Offices on the need to further improve traffic management in the City.

ResPark plea for Albemarle Road area

Residents say they want a ResPark scheme on Albemarle Road according to a report being considered by the York Council next week. The move comes in the wake of a move to open up a Multi User Games Area (MUGA) for public use at the nearby Millthorpe School.

Part of the planned restrictions which also affect Philadelphia Terrace and Ovington Terrace

The proposal includes the extension of parking restrictions in the area. As we reported some weeks ago, there is already an issue with the narrow highway being obstructed as a result of parking. It is thought that ResPark would reduce the pressures on the street.

Officials say that they cannot complete the ResPark processes before the MUGA opens in the summer bringing the prospect of increased disruption for at least a limited period of time.

Bishopthorpe Road parking restrictions

The meeting will also hear about representations made regarding the installation of a pedestrian refuge in the Bishopthorpe Road area.

Planned parking Restrictions on Bishopthorpe Road

The original proposals attracted a large number of objections.

The plans include the creation of a “clearway” from the racecourse to Bishopthorpe Village.