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.

“Pay by phone” parking to be extended to “on street” spaces in York

Pay by phone transactions at the York Councils, off street, car parks now account for 27% of the income received.

Drivers mostly use cards to pay for the rest.

Free RingGo Apps halve the time it takes to pay
Parking App

The York Council is now planning to extend Phone/App payments to “on street” spaces. We think this is a move in the right direction.

A review of parking arrangements will also lead to:

  • Streamline process of extension of existing residents parking zones including recruiting extra staff
  •  Pay monthly options for Respark with screen badges scrapped referred to as paperless virtual parking (like the new VED system)
  •  the procurement of a new parking system that will introduce online self-service for customers to become the principle channel for online application and payment for parking permits, visitor vouchers, same day online payment for parking tickets, and to automate the requirement for evidence. Cash will no longer be accepted in council offices for parking permits and all penalty charge notice (PCN)
  • Provide a cashless system in Marygate car park, given most people now use card. This will be subject to the integration of permits (e.g. Minster Badge and Season tickets) into the Pay on Exit technology. Piccadilly car park may also become “pay on exit”
Marygate car park

Huge amounts of money have been spent by the Council equipment and barriers at Marygate in recent years to provide a “pay on exit” option. The equipment – for several years – provided to be unreliable although has improved since the provision of ANPR monitoring.

The report is silent on emerging issues like the provision of on street charging facilities for the growing number of electric vehicles. Some policing of off-street charging points may also be required.

The Council report claims that the move to online service only will save substantial amounts of council staff time. The report says that 50% of visits to West Offices relate to parking issues.

Nevertheless, the absence of a proper business case (including investment and revenue assumptions) , together with achievable implementation milestones, may cause concerns for some taxpayers.  

25% paying for parking by phone in York

A freedom of information request has revealed what proportion of drivers are using their phone to pay for parkign in York.

Of 1.2 million parking transactions made at off street parking locations during the last financial year, 234,832 drivers paid by phone.

The proportion for on street parking was much lower. The vast majority of those parking on street used one of the Councils 68 ticket machines.

Ring Go’s smartphone App has made parking easier in York

In total the York Council received £5,597,280 from parking charges last year.

Dozens of changes planned to parking arrangements across York

A bumper list of traffic management changes is being considered at a meeting next week (click for details).

A summary list can be found by clicking here

The cost of advertising the planned changes comes to £25,500. This is three times thae actually cost of changing lines and signage

The changes include removing a motorcycle parking bay on Acomb Road near the shops. It will be replaced by a car parking bay.

“Sliding bollards” plan for York City centre

Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.

Phase 1 of the vehicle exclusion zone

The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)

The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people

More disabled parking is planned for Piccadilly

It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism

Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).

“Sliding” bollards are planned for the entrances to several streets.

The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.

The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.

In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:

•             continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services

•             creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)

•             extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours

•             supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride

*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.

Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.

City centre future

The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exercise on the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.

Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.

If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.

This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.

The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.

The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street

£350,000 Council Tax bill for new tourist signs in York

A Council official has agreed, at another “behind closed doors” meeting, to contribute £350,000 towards the provision of new “wayfinding” signs in the City centre.

The total cost of the project is £700,000 with the York Business Improvement District (BID) contributing half.

The plan has prompted a mixed reaction in the past. The new LibDem led Council administration had been expected to review the proposals, along with other expenditure commitments – like the £20 million Guildhall project – which it inherited in May.

However, that hasn’t happened, with the new administration adopting a very low-profile approach to public service reforms.

The decision notice says, “The February 2019 Budget Council meeting included the following …. this scheme will allow the Council and York BID to proceed with full implementation of a new Wayfinding scheme starting in Spring 2019, following a detailed consultation exercise. Works will include the removal of 60 current heritage fingerposts to reduce street clutter, and installation of 36 new totem signs, 14 fingerpost signs, and 13 wall signs. York BID have committed £350k to the full implementation, which will be matched by the Council as part of this scheme”.

Opinions on the design of the new signs – one of which is located outside the Mansion House – have been mixed with same favouring the more traditional “finger” signs.

However, the main area of contention relates to prioritisation at a time when an increasing number of visitors to the City depend on smartphone features like Google Maps to find their way around.

While Visit York has a good website, there is scope for a more specialised smartphone app.

There are several commercial applications available with some depending on advertising revenue. Currently Visit York doesn’t provide a list of approved Apps that are available. Anyone accessing the iTunes store and entering “York” will be offered only 2 options. One of these is currently unavailable.

Visit York should commission an official real time “walking tour” type guide and promote its use via its web site, social media and at entry points to the City.

Meanwhile, many will take the view that £350,000 might be better invested in ensuring that the City is weed and litter free, and that street furniture like bins and seats are kept in good condition.

The Council should also finally deliver a replacement for the real time car parking space availability signs, and “on line” service, which was lost some 8 years ago.

Such a “clean and seen” campaign must include the main road and rail routes into the City which are so important in forming a visitors “first impression” of York.

Bootham Park Masterplan published

City of York Council has today published a draft masterplan for the Bootham Park Hospital site, following the public consultation which took place last year.

Bootham Park

The masterplan, developed jointly between the York Council and the York teaching Hospital NHS Trust, proposes “a viable option for the development of the site, one that meets the needs of York residents by providing care accommodation, public open space, key worker housing and more”.

The key features of the plan include.

  • A Nursing home included on YTHT land (part of former nurse’s accommodation site).
  • Residential development aimed at the senior living market to the
    east of the chapel.
  • Child care nursery located on northern edge of YTHT land –
    directly accessible to the York Hospital site
  • The main former hospital building to be converted to extra care
    apartments (potentially incorporating step down care linked to
    York Hospital). Unlisted elements to be removed and a new block
    built to the north east in order to provide a viable number of units.
  • Unlisted and some grade 2 listed elements to the west
    removed in order to accommodate a Medical Training and
    Research Centre of Excellence with associated Key Worker
    Accommodation (medical staff).
  • A linear ‘’atrium’’ provides a main access and control point but
    also visually separates the form of old and new elements.
  • Landscaped area to the north redesigned to provide a semi
    private garden and courtyard space in the centre of the listed
    building group reinstated as landscape open space.
  • Unlisted cottages off driveway entrance from Bootham removed and replaced with apartments.
  • Existing listed gatehouse reinstated as residential accommodation.
  • Potential café/pavilion proposed adjacent to reopened pedestrian access off Bootham.

The plan involves building on the Union Terrace car park. The coach park would be retained with a multi storey car park, constructed above it,containing 250 spaces. It is claimed that this change will improve access to the hospital site from the south and provide a better “gateway” appearance for a key route into the City centre.

The Council says, “York residents will now be invited to contribute further to the development of the masterplan, by giving their views on the proposals so far.

The Bootham Park Masterplan Consultation will launch in September 2019″.

NB. NHS Property Services have recently engaged in a failed commercial sale and continue to re-market the site.

A copy of the draft masterplan can be downloaded by clicking this link

Building works problems increasing

Residents are hoping that some solutions, to the problems caused by widespread building works in the Westfield area, will emerge from last nights public meeting.

There are acute congestion, parking and noise problems at and near sevral sites.

Contractors have been digging up Hob Moor as they proceed wit the Newbury Avnue development. To do so they have cut two gaps in the perimeter hedge (although its is still the bird nesting season)
Parking problems are increasing on Ascot Way. The Lincoln House forecourt parking has gone and the Council have not provided even a temporary facility near the gable end of the building (where there is adequate space). The area is currently fenced off. The parking crisis in the estate has been exacerbated by the demolition of the |Newbury Avenue garages.

Spy cameras at Woodthorpe shops? Drivers face £100 fine?

Notices have appeared warning motorists that they face a £100 fine if they use the shoppers car park at Woodthorpe shops for longer than 2 hours. The notices say that ANPR (spy) cameras will be used to enforce the new restrictions.

Woodthorpe shops

We can understand that the owners of the car park which is privately owned may wish to discourage commuter and overnight parking. They have, after all, to pick up the bill for repairs and maintenance. Spaces are intended to be used by shoppers and those visiting the dentist and doctors surgery.

Maintenance standards on the surface of the shopping area and adjacent parking areas does need to be improved. Fortunately, following voluntary efforts, the amount of litter and weeds has been reduced while the flower beds are much tidier.

Camera enforcement seems a little over the top if they are to be used routinely. The last thing that the local community would want to see is more “on street” parking on busy local roads .

NB. There are also concerns about the future of the Post Office which is located in one of the shops.