York Central residents survey.

click to complete

click to complete

Only two weeks left to give your views.

The York Council is now nearly halfway through its “consultation” on the future of the York Central site.

Sad to say, but the information provided to aid residents in making their choices is pretty hopeless. Most obvious omissions are any financial or value for money metrics.

Basically a survey which offers residents anything they want, but without explaining either costs or sources of funding, is bound to lack credibility. Local developers have already questioned he sanity of a project that depends on speculative office development to repay investment in infrastructure.

Similarly a casual suggestion that through traffic should be removed from Leeman Road is bound to prompt a question about the impact on the rest of the highway network?

Key background facts, like the number of unemployed in the City and the number on the housing waiting list, are not provided, yet respondents are asked to take a stab at the number of  new jobs and homes that they think should be provided on the site.

Doubly so, given the sensitivities that still linger on from the Lendal Bridge closure fiasco.

The Council really needs to debate how big they see the City becoming over the next few decades?

Answer that question first  and the contribution that the York Central site (which is ideally located) can make, will become more obvious.

York Council indecision on new Chief Executive?

IndecisionYork seems likely to be without a permanent replacement for its Chief Executive for at least another 6 months.

Papers published for a meeting taking place on 1st February reveal that a review of the Council’s management structure, commissioned last June, has apparently still not been concluded.

The report blames ongoing financial pressures for the delays, although the Chief Executives post  has been filled on a temporary basis (at full salary) for over 6 months.

It now appears that the report on a new structure may now be available in March. A £150,000 a year saving on salary costs is being achieved from 1st April by deleting a post dealing with “transformation and change”

Staff working in the Chief Executives Department are being transferred to other management groups suggesting that the Council may be thinking of abolishing the role of Chief Executive altogether.  

The Council will, however, now move to appoint a permanent Director of Public Health on a salary of around £100,000. 

The Council will also make a permanent appointment to the post of “City and Environmental Services”. Essentially this is the role formerly held by Bill Woolley who retired over three years ago. It is responsible for planning and transport policy.  The post will also attract a pay level of around £100,000 pa. The Council says that to minimise recruitment costs this post will be “advertised externally on City of York Council Jobs Website and promoted through the Council social media channels”.  Minimal advertising of vacancies is usually a tactic that a Council adopts when it has “someone in mind” for the post.

Recent events – including the Councils response to the flooding crisis – suggest that there is a lack of effective leadership in the authority.  Taking over 12 months to find a permanent appointment for the post which is responsible for driving the administrative side of the Council is, at best, complacent and at worst negligent.

The York Council is now desperately short of experienced management capacity.

Councillors need to act quickly and decisively to fill the void.

Most vehicle information signs in York not working

VMSA report published today reveals that most of the variable message signs (VMS) in York are no longer working. 

There are a total of 46 signs in the City with 20 located on the Outer Ring Road, 6 on the approaches to the inner ring road plus 21 which indicate car park space availability.

The signs were installed between 1998 and 2003 but have fallen into disuse partly because some of the electrical components are now obsolete.

The Council was criticised in 2013 for allowing the signs to deteriorate and for discontinuing its “on line” car parking space availability monitor.

A meeting taking place next week will consider how to modernise the signs using LED technology.

The cost of £6000 each, means that a total budget of £275,000 would be needed to refurbish all signs. Only £90,000 is available, although it would be possible to reallocate funds from other projects – such as the plan to continue to provide free bus travel for teenagers (replacing it with a half price fare offer) – to get the signs back into service sooner

The current plan is for the car park space availability signs to be renewed over a period of 3 years.

Information signs on the northern by-pass will be “mothballed”. They may be reactivated as and when the A1237 is dualled. Officials claim that satellite technology systems now provide better and more up to date information (although not generally on car parking space availability or “off route” blockages)

NB. The same meeting will consider an objection to a plan to change parking restrictions in Burdyke Avenue

Behind closed doors York Council decision rules out new parking curbs near Gale Lane/Front Street junction

Dozens of traffic and parking decisions affecting whole City taken at secret session
Gale Lane Front Street click to enlarge

Gale Lane Front Street click to enlarge

The Council has published a report reviewing parking arrangements near the Gale Lane/Front Street junction.

The report follows complaints about obstructions being caused to traffic generally, and bus services in particular, by vehicles parking on the carriageway and adjacent footpaths. Some of the problems were apparently being caused by delivery vans visiting the Gale Farm surgery.

The request for action were turned down at a secret meeting with the reports only being published publicly after decisions had already been taken.

Sadly this continues the practice of preventing residents from making representations, before decisions are taken, started in 2011. Despite public claims from the Council Leadership about their commitment to open government, this practise has still not been changed.BehindClosedDoors 2015

There is really no reason why agendas and reports can’t be published at least a week before a meeting takes place. This would give affected residents an opportunity to write to the Council giving their views, if they chose to.

Changes to traffic arrangements in every ward in the City were considered by the same meeting (and not pre publicised).

Click the links below for details
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University Road safety improvements

A report outlining proposed additional safety enhancements to University Road will go to the Decision Session for the Executive Member for Transport and Planning on 10 September.

The proposals include adding two extra pairs of speed cushions to further help enforce the local 20mph speed limit in the area. The limit was introduced in the first phase to help increase pedestrian safety when crossing the road. It is also proposed that a central crossing point is added to the existing speed table near to the bus stop to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the road.

These amendments follow on from the original scheme of work that was carried out in the autumn of 2014 which saw improvements to bus stops, a 20mph zone introduced and the construction of a shared use pedestrian and cycle path.

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Tiger spotted on Jockey Lane

A report outlining proposed safety improvements for both pedestrians and cyclists using Jockey Lane will go to the Decision Session for the Executive Member for Transport and Planning on 10 September.

The proposals include the installation of York’s first “Tiger” pedestrian and cyclist crossing

Tiger cycle and pedestrian crossing. click to access

Tiger cycle and pedestrian crossing. click to access

The report outlines proposals to widen the existing footway allowing the creation of a missing section of shared use pathway between Forge Close on the south side and the delivery access to Sainsbury’s on the north side.

It is also proposed that either a Toucan crossing or Zebra crossing is installed near to the delivery access of Sainsbury’s and Huntington House. If a Zebra crossing is installed this could then be changed to a Tiger Crossing when new legislation comes in to place. This would allow cyclists to also use the crossing without dismounting and would further help to link the two sections of off-road cycle path.  The bus stops in the area will also be relocated away from the crossing to further improve safety.

It is also recommended that if a Zebra crossing is chosen that the saving is used to help fund the resurfacing of Jockey Lane from Kathryn Avenue to New Lane. This is based on a view that the whole road condition needs to be improved and there would be an economy of scale in the surfacing contractor being commissioned to do more work.

Cllr Ian Gillies, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: “It is important that we work to link up sections of the existing pedestrian and cycle network to help encourage sustainable and healthy modes of travel. This helps to offer a real alternative to single occupancy car journeys in and around York.”

After consulting with North Yorkshire Police they are in favour of the changes and highlight that Zebra crossing currently have a lower accident rate than Toucan crossings.

To attend the meeting or to find out more information please visit http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=738&MId=9028&Ver=4

Set back for electric buses in York?

There are calls for electric buses to be removed from  York roads until the cause of today’s fire in one of the vehicles has been traced.

The affected vehicles only joined Firsts fleet a short time ago but any incident like this is likely to dent passengers confidence.

York Press:

The fire occurred in the Hungate area. At one point there was a small explosion. Firefighters were initially hindered by high electric currents in the vehicle

The bus driver has been praised for promptly ensuring that his passengers evacuated the vehicle. There were no reported injuries.

School pupils encouraged to become Modeshift STARS

STAR

The scheme aims to encourage pupils, parents and staff to travel to and from school using sustainable travel.

The Modeshift STARS scheme is an on-line tool showcasing green travel options that also recognises schools that are working hard not only to encourage parents and staff  to travel to school more sustainably but use sustainable transport as part of their curriculum activities.

The aim of the project is to increase the number of people walking and cycling to school, and reducing congestion during the school run making it safer for everyone.

Mode shift starsSchools taking part in Modeshift STARS work towards a national award which recognises the continuing efforts a school makes to increase sustainable travel by the whole school community.

Jonathan Green, Head Teacher for Archbishop of York Junior school said: “Modeshift STARS has brought our whole school community together. It is a brilliant scheme that has encourages us to really look positively at how we travel to school and how we take responsibility for our village.”

For more information on Modeshift STARS visit http://www.itravelyork.info/for-schools/travel-planning/stars. For more information on sustainable travel in York visit www.itravelyork.info

More City centre cycle parking required

One of the quickest – and cheapest – ways of reducing traffic congestion in York is to encourage more people to walk or cycle when making short journeys.

The promotion of cycling has been a Council objective for over 15 years. Encouraging more people to cycle has played its part in preventing traffic congestion getting worse in the City (despite what some may claim, journey times have actually changed little over the past decade).

FULL cycle racks in parliament Street

FULL cycle racks in parliament Street

The last government provided the City with £4.6 million and an opportunity to make a major investment in sustainable transport. We think that the Council got its priories wrong when it spent over £1 million on a cycle path in the Clifton Moor area running parallel to the A1237. Several months after it was opened there is precious little evidence that it is being used to any extent.

There is a lesson for the Council in this.

FULL - Davygate cycle racks

FULL – Davygate cycle racks

People will use a bicycle for certain types of journey but they want off road cycle paths to be safe, to follow the shortest possible route and to end at a popular destination.

A few years ago the Council decided to route a cycle path around the perimeter of Hob Moor. There was a clear “desire line” running from Thanet Road to the railway underpass. It was argued that a cycle path running across the middle of the moor would have disturbed ground nesting birds.

However a few years later and, although the bitmaced path is well used, the desire line continues to attract large numbers of pedestrians as well as some cyclists.

Effectively the wildlife faced a “double whammy”.

If the Council seeks, and is allocated, more sustainable transport funding then it will need to be smarter about how it uses it.

One obvious deficiency is the lack of cycle parking in the City centre.

Empty market stalls

Empty market stalls

A convenient and secure place to leave a cycle will be a top priority for most cyclists. On days when the weather is fine there are few cycle rack spaces available. Cyclists chain their bikes to a wide variety of bits of street furniture. Inevitably some are vandalised and the wrecked bike  often remains for weeks as a testament to neglect while posing a minor threat to passing pedestrians.

Unused are near M & S

Unused area near M & S

To often parked cycles detract for the appearance of our historic streetscape.

There is, however,  space available for more parking in many areas including the in the Shambles market area.

Limited use of market area

Limited use of market area

Demountable cycle barriers (which retract into the footpath when an area is required for a special event) are one option that could be trialled.

Investment of this sort is one of the most economical ways of encouraging people to leave their cars at home.

Cycle parking next to historic buildigs

Cycle parking next to historic buildings

It merits the allocation of more resources than ill considered gimmicks likecongestion commissions”.

Join residents and businesses in the BIG York Challenge!

City of York Council is encouraging York businesses and their employees to get into gear and join over 270 people and 39 businesses who have already joined the i-Travel York BIG Challenge.

The i-Travel York BIG Challenge started on Monday 1 June and offers prizes to those who clock up the most journeys using different modes of sustainable travel during the six-week period, plus weekly prize draws for taking part.

Picture-of-different-vehicles.

This can include walking, running, cycling, scooting, skating, bus, train, park & ride, park & pedal, car sharing, electric car, teleconferencing or working from home, so almost everyone should be able to join in.
Some of the city’s largest employers have joined, including York College, The Vangarde Shopping Park and Aviva.

Registering is simple via: www.itravelyork.info/bigchallenge

The BIG Challenge is being run by Sustrans, the national sustainable transport charity, in partnership with i-Travel York.
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