A Council official has agreed, at another “behind closed doors” meeting, to contribute £350,000 towards the provision of new “wayfinding” signs in the City centre.
The total cost of the project is £700,000 with the York Business Improvement District (BID) contributing half.
The plan has prompted a mixed reaction in the past. The new LibDem led Council administration had been expected to review the proposals, along with other expenditure commitments – like the £20 million Guildhall project – which it inherited in May.
However, that hasn’t happened, with the new administration adopting a very low-profile approach to public service reforms.
The decision notice says, “The February 2019 Budget Council meeting included the following …. this scheme will allow the Council and York BID to proceed with full implementation of a new Wayfinding scheme starting in Spring 2019, following a detailed consultation exercise. Works will include the removal of 60 current heritage fingerposts to reduce street clutter, and installation of 36 new totem signs, 14 fingerpost signs, and 13 wall signs. York BID have committed £350k to the full implementation, which will be matched by the Council as part of this scheme”.
Opinions on the design of the new signs – one of which is located outside the Mansion House – have been mixed with same favouring the more traditional “finger” signs.
However, the main area of contention relates to prioritisation at a time when an increasing number of visitors to the City depend on smartphone features like Google Maps to find their way around.
While Visit York has a good website, there is scope for a more specialised smartphone app.
There are several commercial applications available with some depending on advertising revenue. Currently Visit York doesn’t provide a list of approved Apps that are available. Anyone accessing the iTunes store and entering “York” will be offered only 2 options. One of these is currently unavailable.
Visit York should commission an official real time “walking tour” type guide and promote its use via its web site, social media and at entry points to the City.
Meanwhile, many will take the view that £350,000 might be better invested in ensuring that the City is weed and litter free, and that street furniture like bins and seats are kept in good condition.
The Council should also finally deliver a replacement for the real time car parking space availability signs, and “on line” service, which was lost some 8 years ago.
Such a “clean and seen” campaign must include the main road and rail routes into the City which are so important in forming a visitors “first impression” of York.