City centre economy facing a challenge

City centre traders are likely to be looking with concern at the numbers of people who are visiting the City centre. New footfall figures have been published.

The figures suggest that visitor numbers to the City may have plateaued.

Parliament Street less busy this year?

Long periods of hot weather haven’t, in the past, been good for York with some tourists preferring to visit coastal areas.

This years weather has been mixed.

Special attractions like the Rose Theatre, although generally successful, are not sold out while interest in events like the current “Great Yorkshire Fringe” are at best comparable with last year.

During June several York streets saw a 10% drop in visitor numbers in 2019 compared to the same month in 2018.

Early figures for July in Parliament Street suggest a 4% drop in visitor numbers during July.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of empty shops on Coney Street, that area has seen visitor numbers drop from 812,808 in June 2017 to 713,762 in June of this year.

There is no shortage of excellent Festivals in York while the work of the BID has seen several parts of the city centre tidied up.

The most important time for many City centre traders is the period between now and Christmas.

Lets hope that the City continues to be “best day out” in the region

Gradual decline in visitor numbers to Parliament Street.
Smaller shopping streets are doing better with visitor numbers to Stonegate stable and numbers in Micklegate increasing.

High winds bring renewed calls for better tree maintenance

Large, unbalanced, trees need to be checked for safety

At least  one large tree has been blown over by the high winds today. It is reported to be blocking a road near Elvington.

The  incident has produced a renewed call for the Council to lop some of its older highway trees.

Tree detritus has been falling on passers by in Wetherby Road

Residents in streets like Wetherby Road and (little) Green Lane have previously called on the Council to lop – or maybe pollard – overgrown trees. They have had little response.

Trees in Wetherby Road were shedding small branches yesterday.

Some trees in Ridgeway have been pruned this week

Contractors were undertaking minor works nearby in Ridgeway but larger trees were being left.

In due course high sided vehicles are likely to impact overgrowing branches.

Trees on Parliament Street have been pollarded

The council has pollarded trees on Parliament Street. They will grown back quickly, but to a scale in line with the function of the street.

Some ward committees have allocated funds for lopping work but non of it appears to have been spent to reduce the hazards caused by large,old trees.

Any work must be competed before the start of the bird nesting season.

Temporary repairs on Parliament Street

Parliament Street

City of York Council will carry out temporary repairs of broken and uneven paving slabs/flags on Parliament Street from next week.

Over the years, the paving has become worn and damaged. One of the main reasons for this is because the trees on Parliament Street are taking a huge amount of water from the underlying clay, which is shrinking the clay underneath the paved areas. As a result an entire new section of pavement from the area near the old fountain to Mark’s and Spencer is required.

The council listened to businesses and retailers in June, when works were originally due to be carried out, and postponed these during the busy summer months.

Following further assessment of the highway, the paving has deteriorated even more – to a level which now requires immediate repairs ahead of the busy Christmas period. This is in order ensure the area is safe for pedestrians.

The temporary measures will include taking up broken and uneven paving slabs/flags and laying two new layers of tarmac surface.

The temporary repairs will start week commencing the 1 October and be completed by the 2 November.

This is not a permanent solution and plans to resurface the full area are in development.

Businesses and retailers were hand delivered letters outlining the works on Thursday 27 September.

City of York Council will be carrying out the works and will be responsible for public safety and for providing access while the work is ongoing.

Works are scheduled to take place between 7am and 4pm Monday to Friday.  However some out of hours working will be required (early morning and weekends) to reconstruct access to retailers premises to reduce the impact of this work to businesses in the area.

As with any construction work there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience, but the council will be doing everything reasonably possible to keep this to a minimum.

Ritual hand wringing over future of St Sampsons Square toilets

St Sampsons Square 40 years ago

Councillors are being called to a special meeting to discuss the future of both  the St Samsons Square (former) toilets and the “Fountain” on Parliament Street.

A proposal to demolish the disabled toilet block  – last used 8 years ago and replaced by facilities at nearby Silver Street – has been called in for further consideration. Surprisingly one of the reasons given for the objection is the lack of alternative disabled facilities.

The Council says, ” Its removal will enable the square to be better used offering increased space for the temporary cultural, recreational and retail events that happen in the city. The water and drain connections will remain to allow toilet facilities to be provided for such events if needed”.

NB The former St Sampsons Square underground  toilets were just about the least accessible facilities in the north of England! They were replaced 25 years ago by the unlamented “splash palace” at the other end of Parliament Street.

Redundant St Sampsons Square toilet block

Green party Councillors also now seem to be wanting to distance themselves from their budget plan to erect advertising hoardings on Parliament Street. They describe – with some justification – the existing (water-less) fountain as a key meeting point.

Extensive repairs would be required to bring the fountain – which was the preferred choice of residents who took part in a public consultation poll 25 years ago – back into use. Other options for use the space would also incur costs.

A council report says,

“A permanent replacement will need to be considered by key stakeholders including the Civic Trust, York Business Improvement District, Make it York and will need to be sufficiently iconic that it may well require planning permission”.

It is unclear what, if any, public consultation will take place over the future of the site.

The same meeting will consider how to implement new government rules on houses in “multiple occupation”



Parliament Street fountain’s days are numbered

Parliament Street fountain

It looks like the Council are set on removing the fountain from Parliament Street. It was provided over 25 years ago following a poll of York residents who were asked what features they wanted to see in the remodelled street.

Now the Council says that it is beyond repair and gets in the way of other activities.

In other words, it reduces the amount of commercial events that can take place there.

St Sampson’s Square 30 years ago

A report to a meeting in April will also consider the future of the – long disused – underground toilets which are located in St Sampsons Square.

In both cases is is unclear what alternative use the spaces would be put to.

Make it York” caused  a storm a couple of years ago when they targeted the fountain for removal.

Repair works to Parliament Street ahead of festive season

City of York Council is carrying out essential repair works to Parliament Street this Sunday (12 November) ahead of the busy festive season.

All shops and businesses will be open as usual while the work takes place from Pavement down to Shambles Market.

The council is acting to remove the growing risk of slips and trips by temporarily replacing 300 square metres of flagstones with tarmac, before relaying the flagstones early next year.

Laying the temporary tarmac surface now, and delaying the more disruptive and lengthier flag relaying work, means the area can be safe and welcoming to the large number of city-centre visitors over the festive season

Parliament Street fountain – decision date set

Parliament Street fountainThe fate of the fountain on Parliament Street will be decided by the York Council’s Executive when it meets on 24th September. 

Although the new Executive now includes a representative from both the Labour and Green groups, it is anticipated that a more balanced all party meeting of a “scrutiny committee” will also consider the same issue a week earlier.

The future of the fountain was brought into question when the Quango “Make it York” announced that it would be demolished.

The statement was widely criticised as there had been no prior consultation with residents or most Councillors.

Another petition is being collected concerning the nearby site where children’s rides are traditionally located at Christmas. It is expected that it will attract sufficient signatures to force the Council to publicly debate the issue and consider reinstating the Carousel at its traditional location.

Make it York, Parliament Street & the Carousel

Anyone wishing to sign a petition asking the York Council and “Make it York” to ensure that traditional children’s Christmas rides remain available in the Parliament Street area should click here

Members of the public ride a carousel adjacent to the 'St Nicholas Fair' Christmas market in the city centre of York, Northern England on December 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the public ride a carousel adjacent to the ‘St Nicholas Fair’ Christmas market in the city centre of York, Northern England on December 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The petition asks the York Council and MIY to:

Take action to ensure that any major changes initiated by “Make it York” or other Quangos operating in the City are subject to consultation with residents. In particular we petition that the traditional children’s rides, provided during the period leading up to Christmas, be retained on either Parliament Street or St. Sampson’s Square, unless an alternative location, which is both acceptable to the operators and equally accessible for users, can be found.


“Make it York”, a company wholly owned by the Council but run by an independent Board of Directors, has announced that the  children’s rides traditionally provided during the St. Nicholas Fair period leading up to Christmas, will not be allocated a pitch in the Parliament Street area this year.

This ban includes the iconic Carousel ride.

The space may be used to accommodate a licensed bar.

No consultation with residents or most Councillors has taken place, no effective public scrutiny process for “Make it York” decisions has been introduced nor have any performance measures – for the public events that it may organise – been published.

York Council taxpayers need to be involved in the decision making processes for organisations that they help to fund including “Make it York”, the “York Museums Trust” & the York Libraries and Archives Mutual Company.

The petition should also be available on the Council’s web site shortly


York children set to lose Christmas Carousel?

Members of the public ride a carousel adjacent to the 'St Nicholas Fair' Christmas market in the city centre of York, Northern England on December 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the public ride a carousel adjacent to the ‘St Nicholas Fair’ Christmas market in the city centre of York, on December 3, 2014.  OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

It looks like the new “Make it York” organisation is set to ban a famous childrens ride from the St Sampsons Square/Parliament Street area this Christmas. The festive music from the ride has added to the atmosphere in that part of the City.

A carousel ride has been a popular choice for hundreds of young (and not so young) children for a long time but we understand that their booking for a traditional pitch on St Sampson’s Square has been cancelled by “Make it York” 

Instead more market stalls are to provided in the Square with a “new attraction” likely to go outside Marks and Spencer.

Make it York have offered the carousel operators a pitch in the Eye of York, apparently unaware that the Ice Factor event was forced to move from there following complaints, of noise and distracting behaviour, from officials at  the adjacent County Court. The site would in any event not have a high enough footfall to justify installation and running costs.

There has been no discussions with Councillors over the move.

While many residents would welcome some consultation on what new attractions might be provided in the future during the Christmas and other seasons, it seems that the new organisation has yet to learn the importance of consultation with potential customers.Make it Talk angry mob score

It is only a few weeks since that the organisation announced that it was removing the fountain in Parliament Street, ostensibly again to provide more space for specialist stalls. The York Council later intervened and shelved the idea pending proper public consultation.

Make it York took over tourist promotion, economic development, the management of the Shambles (Newgate) market and city centre activities in April. The transfer of responsibilities – and a large budget – was criticised at the time for are lack of transparency, poor communications, lack of consultation and inadequate no performance measures.

The Council is represented on the make it York Board by its Leader Cllr Chris Steward




Parliament Street fountain demolition to be reviewed

Parliament Street fountainYork’s Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Tourism has called for a review of the plan to demolish the fountain on Parliament Street.

 Make It York, the city’s new destination management organisation, said earlier this month that the fountain should go in order to create a more attractive open space which could be used by festivals. It is understood that the previous Labour Cabinet Member had given the green-light to demolition, but since last week residents have said that they want the fountain to stay and an online petition has been launched. This petition runs until August.

The fountain was originally installed 25 years ago, but the power supply was switched off in 2012 when the Parliament Street toilets were demolished.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Leisure, Culture & Tourism, has now said that there should be a cross-party look at the options. He commented:

“The previous Labour administration wasted millions on vanity schemes in the city-centre that had no cross-party or public support such as the controversial King’s Square redevelopment. We are taking a different approach and therefore, when the petition closes, I will ask the council’s cross-party Learning & Culture policy committee to undertake a review.

“This review will allow councillors and residents to have their say and decide how they want the space in Parliament Street to be used within the budget constraints which currently exist. It should be a short review which will also involve proper consultation with market traders and with Make it York.”


NB Cllr Ayre aims to initiate the short review at September’s cross-party Learning & Culture Policy and Scrutiny Committee and no formal decision on the fountain will be taken before