Trial changes to reduce the number of vehicles using footstreets in York

Following advice from North Yorkshire Police, City of York Council is putting measures in place to improve public safety across the city centre where there are a large number of pedestrians.

Following a decision by the Executive in February, the council commissioned independent security experts to develop a plan for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

A trial of the measures to reduce the number of vehicles in the city’s main footstreet area will take place before permanent measures are installed in the coming months.

The trial will include ending vehicle access to St Sampson’s Square during foot street hours (10.30am-5pm, seven days a week) by using an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO).

The current restrictions will also be enforced along Coney Street with the introduction of bollards at the northern end of the street, close to the Mansion House.

After this initial trial, a wider consultation on the city centre will be commissioned by the Council and will provide an opportunity for everyone in the city to share their views on access to the city centre. (more…)

City centre security on the council agenda

Plans to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from the threat of terrorist attacks will be considered by two key council committees over the next fortnight.

York’s busiest city centre spaces are set for increased protection under plans unveiled by the council to combat the threat posed to UK cities by terrorists.

Following a decision by the Executive in February, the council commissioned independent security experts to develop a plan for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

After reviewing all the city centre access points, the report recommends changes in the first ‘priority zone’ including Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate.

Longer-term, this will involve replacing many of the existing temporary measures, such as those at the end of Parliament Street, with permanent fixtures.

The council plans to introduce this as an experimental traffic order, which will give up to six months to understand the impact and work with affected groups like residents, retailers and disabled people.

Before the decision is taken on Thursday 27 September, the Executive has requested that the proposals are presented to today’s Economy and Place Development Committee, so the committee can consider the potential impact that the measures could have on disabled access to the city centre.

Superintendent Lindsey Robson, commander for the York and Selby area, said:

“We’re working with the council to make sure that York has the right security measures in place to keep residents and visitors as safe as possible.

“The national threat level remains severe which means a terrorist attack is highly likely and is likely to come without notice.

“This combined with the shift in methods from complex, coordinated attacks that we’ve seen around the world, to more basic attacks in the UK using hire cars and knives, means that we must do all that we can to protect the city from such attacks.

·             “Alongside these physical measures there is a lot going on behind the scenes and we continue to work alongside counter terrorism police to prevent, disrupt and deter dangerous extremists across the country.

“We thank members of the public for their continuing support and although the likelihood of being involved in an attack is low, we urge them to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or activity to police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or via gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency always call 999.”

The current threat level across the UK from international terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and the police reiterate the long-standing advice to remain vigilant and alert.

In the rare event of getting caught up in a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice. Run to a place of safety rather than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then hide and don’t confront. Finally, and only when it is safe to do so, tell the police by calling 999.

 

£15 million York Council contract for security services

A new contract has been awarded to Gough & Kelly Ltd to run security services for the Council.

The contract started on 1st November and is expected to be worth £15 million over the next 5 years.

The services to be provided include, “Manned Guarding, Key Holding, Intruder Alarm Monitor and Investigation, Supply of Security consumables, locks, padlocks and locking systems”.

A separate contract sees the outsourcing of the Councils CCTV monitoring service

Given the size of the contract – and the sensitivity of CCTV monitoring – the contract has attracted remarkably little debate in the Council!

There has been a similar lack of debate about the cost of a one year contract for “Independent Mobility Assessments” for the issuing of disabled parking Blue Badges. The contract will be worth £52,950 and has been awarded to Premier Physical Healthcare Ltd

York City centre security clamp down as Christmas approaches

City of York Council is working with North Yorkshire Police and partners across York to help keep city centre users safe over the festive season

Our priority is the safety and security of all those attending or involved in events, and residents and visitors are encouraged to continue with plans to attend or take part as normal.

The public may see additional protective security measures at events this year, including the installation of traffic slowing measures.

While traffic to the city centre is already limited at busy times, the addition of chicanes which are being installed this week will help keep pedestrians even safer. The measures will allow delivery vehicles controlled entry at the usual permitted times.

There could also be increased security checks at some events and venues so we advise the public to arrive in plenty of time to allow for this. The current threat level across the UK from international terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and we reiterate our long-standing advice to remain vigilant and alert.

As ever we would urge residents and visitors to the city centre to get in touch to report anything suspicious by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or, in an emergency, by calling 999.

In the rare event of getting caught up in a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice. Run to a place of safety rather than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then hide and don’t confront. Finally, and only when it is safe to do so, tell the police by calling 999.

For more information on anti-terrorism activities, please visit: www.npcc.police.uk/staysafe
(more…)

Political posturing or considered debate? York Councillors opt for extra meetings

Three decisions taken by the new Council have been called in for further consideration.

The topics chosen are an eclectic mix of the important (new house building), the improbable (listing an derelict  “malt house”) and the bizarre (objections to letting a new security contract)

Council house building and Newbury Avenue

Newbury Avenue garages

Predictably the Labour group hope to divert attention away from their failure, over four years, to provide significant numbers of additional affordable homes in the City. They are “calling in” an Executive decision which sets out how more Council houses will be provided in the future. Despite the minority Labour (and Green) Groups now having a voice on the new style Executive, they are still opting to delay work starting on the new building programmes by calling for further reviews.

The “call in” specifically refers to the decision taken to review the demolition of a garage block in Newbury Avenue and replace it with 9 flats. This was the highly unpopular decision forced through by Labour when it had a Council majority. They failed to address concerns about lack of alternative car parking in the estate or the cumulative impact that additional building was having on the limited highways capacity in the area.

An alternative, much better located, site for new homes on Front Street – left derelict for 4 years by the last Council – had been suggested.

In calling in the item, Labour are also delaying a start on other – less controversial – Council housing developments in areas like Ordnance Lane.

There must be a suspicion that what Labour are really trying to do, is deflect attention away from an inquiry into their stewardship of the housing estate. 

It has emerged recently that their flagship “Get York Building” programme collapsed 6 months ago when meetings were abandoned. They are likely to face some testing questions about the cost of “Get York Building” and its complete failure to achieve what its slogan title implied.

While the scale and location of new housing is clearly a matter of City wide significance, the same cannot be said of the other two issues.

Council security services

CCTV-control_room

Three Green Councillors have called in the decisions made by the Executive on 25 June 2015 to “commence a procurement exercise for a comprehensive set of council wide security services, to include on site security services in all council properties, fire alarm response and investigations and the provision of the Council’s CCTV control room operation and ongoing maintenance”.

The Executive decision was simply to commence the procurement process.

It appears that the Greens are opposed to the outsourcing of CCTV monitoring although this is common place elsewhere. 

They raise a series of question about the scope of the contract most of which could have been raised and answered before the Executive decision was taken.

Community Right to Bid under the Localism Act 2011 – Clementhorpe Malt House

Malt house Clementhorpe

The Council Leader – rightly – decided that this building, which has been empty since its use for storage ceased several years ago,  could not reasonably be regarded as a “community asset”.

The building had been unused – and arguably an eyesore – for many years before a deal was brokered to convert it for residential use. The conversion seeks to tastefully incorporate some of the historic features of the building. The demand for malt houses is somewhat limited these days.

The fact of the matter is that, those who now feel that they want the building to be retained and in particular the local ward Councillors, have missed the boat.

They had many years to pursue an alternative use for the building but failed to do so.

The property has been sold and planning permission has been granted.

The Council should encourage the developers to get on with the building work and provide more homes on what is a brownfield site.

Hopefully the new more inclusive decision making process – due to be introduced in the autumn – will allow issues like these to be fully explored before decisions are taken.

Spurious “calling in” tactics simply waste time and tie up the Councils limited administrative resources.