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 Its sales brochure is already out of date not having been updated to reflect the change in Council control which occurred over two months ago.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


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.