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

Parliament Street petition launched

A resident has started an electronic petition on the Council’s web site opposing plans by  “Make it York”  to demolish the fountain on Parliament Street.

Parliament Street fountain

Any change in the Parliament Street area is likely to be controversial and there is now a broad acknowledgement that the QUANGO, at least, jumped the gun and that it should have consulted more widely before publicly backing the change.

How many people are actually bothered about the future of the fountain – which is 25 years old and has been switched off for the last 3 years – remains to be seen.

The underlying question remains just how much power has the Council delegated to Make it York?

Most Councillors believe that the Council did NOT transfer to that organisation any right to change the infrastructure in, or layout of, the City centre (or anywhere else for that matter)

The petition reads

Parliament Street Fountain
We the undersigned petition the council to keep and restore the fountain so that it works not demolish a much loved York site.
Restoring the fountain would make the area look even more impressive. There are paved areas at each side of the fountain that can accommodate additional seating and tables for city users as they do on the continent in many cities, the fountain should be maintained and become a centrepiece for locals and tourist alike to enjoy rather than sitting at the few tables available looking at a proposed empty slabbed area which is what would happen with demolition. Removing this small fountain does not create a huge area, but does remove a lovely, obvious meeting point and a nice place to sit and have a coffee or just people watch.

The petition can be supported by clicking here 

The strange case of the Parliament Street fountain

Parliament Street fountain

Apparently York’s newest QUANGO “Make it York” is claiming that it will demolish the fountain in Parliament Street later in the year.

It is unclear who will pay for this work or what this means for the streetscape, and activities potential, of York’s premier shopping area.

The fountain was installed about 25 years ago as part of the last major refurbishment of the area. The results of a design competition had been put to a popular vote and the inclusion of a fountain had been a high priority for residents.

“Make it York” is a curiosity. It was launched by the last Labour regime but without securing unequivocal all party support.

It is a Council owned company which seems to struggle with the basics. Its sales brochure is already out of date not having been updated to reflect the change in Council control which occurred over two months ago. They claim (wrongly) to have a former Labour Council Leader on their Board – a possible reason why the current Council Leader (a Tory) today claimed that he knew nothing of their plans to demolish the fountain.

The organisation has no transparency at all. No details of meetings are published and it doesn’t seem to have a remit to consult local taxpayers

The Council was criticised for signing off the new organisation without published smart performance indicators and targets. Even now, 3 months on, the baseline performance numbers haven’t been established.

A few more unilateral decisions, like the one about the fountain, and this organisation is likely to lose popular support – and with it any Council subsidy.

Latest footfall figures released

increase-footfall-retail

606,202 movements were recorded by the Parliament Street footfall cameras during March 2014.

This represented an increase on the 531,421 recorded 12 months earlier although it was still down on the 2012 total of 666,249.

The full figures can be downloaded by clicking here

The numbersare influenced by weather conditions and the general economic situation, so most retailers will be focusing on the August to December period when shopper numbers are usually at their highest.

NB. One retailer recently said that sales figures were still 10% down using a year on year comparison.

4% drop in shopper numbers in York City centre during August

Figures released today, under Freedom of Information rules, reveal that 4% fewer shoppers visited the York City centre in August compared to the same month last year.

"Footfall" numbers in Parliament Street. click to enlarge

“Footfall” numbers in Parliament Street. click to enlarge

The blame for the reduction is being attributed to the bungled introduction of new traffic regulations on Lendal Bridge and in Coppergate.

The news comes at a time when visitor attractions were reporting an increase in the numbers using their facilities earlier in the year

In the period up to August a 16% increase was recorded.

This was partly put down to special events like the Mallard 75 celebration as well as the opening of the new York Minster revealed axhibition.

The expectations had been that a recovering national economy – coupled with good weather – would lead to a bumper August; but those hopes seem to have been dashed.

Cameras, that measure the numbers of people on Parliament Street, recorded a drop in “footfall” from a monthly total of 780,646 in 2012 to 746,349 this year

Figures for September and early October are due to are published next week.

Many are forecasting a further decline.

Over 5000 visitors will have received penalty charge notices in September and word of mouth is likely to have resulted in further reputational damage for the City.

More may choose to shun the central area.

There are, however, some hopes that special events like the Food Festival might partly counter the decline.

Earlier in the week the Council was reported as having ordered additional footfall cameras.