Sign of the times

It looks like the traditional figure signposts on the City centre will start to disappear shortly.

New direction sign in foreground. Old finger sign in background

The project to replace them with a “modern” equivalent could cost taxpayers £350,000 with a similar matching contribution coming from the York Bid.

Controversial in many ways, the timing of the expenditure looks even more suspect against the background  of a City centre now desperately trying to attract local shoppers.

The future off the redundant finger signposts has been highlighted by a campaigning Councillor. He wants to repurpose the posts for use in sub-urban York and in the surrounding villages.

This seems like a sound idea.

A new cast iron post can cost as much as £4,300 and repurposing existing signs would not only be cheaper but would also meet the Council’s environmental objectives.

Arguably the finger signs are also less visually intrusive designed as they were to complement Conservation Areas.

So what will happen to the recovered posts?

No one seems to know.

There are many locations – not least the routes of the public rights of way made even more popular for exercise during lock-down – which would benefit from better way marking.

Consigning the iron posts to the scrap heap would add insensitivity to the poor judgement of the original decision.  

Rebid bid by BID

The York Council will today decide whether to support the continuation of he York Business Improvement District (BID)

The BID has operated in the York City Centre for the last 4 years. It is due to come to an end in 20121 unless businesses operating in the City centre choose to renew its mandate.

A Council report says that £4 million will have been invested by the BID over the 5 year life of its contract.

Decisions on the allocation of this investment are taken by the established business-led BID Board and focus on areas such as improving the cleanliness of the City Centre, tackling anti-social behaviour and providing business and procurement support for City Centre businesses.

Many independent observers rate the BID as a success but recognise that it has to be paid for through a supplementary business rates levy whihc may not be popular with everyone.

Achievements listed by the BID include: 

  • The BID funded Street Rangers have engaged with businesses over 15,300 times, recovered £24,000 of stolen stock, provided first aid on 206 occasions and deterred 1,544 cases of anti-social behaviour
  • Christmas lights switch on and Winter lights – the BID have dressed the City and Bar Wall entrances in over 16 kilometres of lights, and such is the success of the switch on that plans are underway to move the event to a larger area to accommodate the growing crowds expected to attend in 2019
  • In 2018/19, the BID deep cleaned over 41,500 m2 of the City Centre and responded to 173 call outs from businesses. The team is also pivotal in removing used syringes and large quantities of biowaste from the streets and surrounding areas.

A decision to hold a renewal ballot is expected to be taken later today

BID funds more cycle parking spaces in central York


The York Business Improvement District (BID) team is reminding residents that additional cycle parking facilities were provided earlier in the year. Funded by the BID, the security hoops can be found at the following locations

# Blake Street

# High Petergate

# Spark: York Piccadilly

# Lord Mayors Walk



#St Maurice’s Road

#George Street

#Castlegate Area

The overall capacity of city centre cycle parking was increased by 10%. Along with this the BID brought seven new signposts showing a map of the cities cycle routes and all the available cycle parking.

Each of the cycle racks features information and maps detailing cycle routes and parking around the city centre.

York BID’s Street Rangers also play a role in ensuring that as much bike parking is available as possible, by monitoring bikes that have been abandoned throughout all of the city’s cycle parking facilities.

“There is a high demand for dedicated cycle racks, so we regularly look out for bikes that have been left for long periods of time, and work with City of York Council to remove those that go unclaimed,”

Tags are attached to any bicycle that appears to have been abandoned, and if it not moved after a month, it is taken away for storage for a further month, before any unclaimed bikes are recycled and sold. 

A cycling map can be downloaded from this link (click)

York Business Improvement District performance review

320,000 pieces of chewing gum removed from pavements.

York Councillors will be considering  a report on Wednesday that reviews the work of the York BID.  The, mainly business funded organisation, was formed in April 2016 and aims to improve the attractiveness of the City centre.

The report includes an impressive list of achievements. The blight of chewing gum on footpaths is produces a particularly eye catching headline. In addition, 961 pieces of graffiti and fly posters have been removed.

The BID ranger service has also helped to reduce anti-social behaviour and address other criminal activities.

There has been a 1.9% increase in footfall in the City.

The report comes at a time when the government has announced that it will not be funding an initiative to regenerate the York  “Future High Street” The shortlisted cities include places like Wakefield and Sheffield, but North Yorkshire has been snubbed.

Last month the government, the Architectural Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund announced a £62 million package of support to breathe new life into historic high streets across the country, to restore historic buildings, create new work spaces and cultural venues. As part of the overall funding, £55 million had been allocated from the Future High Streets Fund. We still hope to see York benefit from this type of government support.

The York BID has been successful initiative and has made a real difference to the quality of the City centre. It has been criticised for drawing Council resources away from sub-urban centres like Acomb but overall the BID is viewed positively.

There are ongoing issues with more improvements needed to the streetscape – too many weeds and too much graffiti – and of course empty properties. The latter in areas like Coney Street now look to be intractable problems, which is why the governments attitude to the City is so disappointing.

Some underused sites and buildings – including those owned by the Council – need to be redeveloped quickly now. The meeting on Wednesday will hear from the Executive member with responsibility for “Economy and Strategic Planning”. Members will no doubt be hoping to hear some positive news about the use of empty property economic development activities in the whole of the City.

We hope that corporate interests will similarly ensure that prominent, but derelict, sites like that next to the Barbican will also now be developed (or at least tidied up).

Overall the BID has had a successful 3 years and can look with confidence to an extension of its mandate.

NB. “Make it York” is reporting separately on its activities click here to read their report

More York shops closing

Coney Street decline

“Make it York” reports to Council

The “Make it York” (MIY) Quango has produced its latest 6-month report justifying the Councils substantial investment. The report can be read by clicking here

There is the usual litany of meetings and globetrotting trips to conventions of one sort or another.

However, those hoping to see some gloom lifted from the City’s retail sector will be disappointed. With still more household names choosing to flee the City (the latest is Homebase) MIY would be expected to lead the revival.

Unfortunately, =- except for part of the Shambles Market – there is little evidence of recovery.

Sooner or later landlords will have to reduce rent levels in areas like Coney Street. The City’s smaller retailers need to gear up to exploit the opportunities that arise. MIY should be providing them with longer-term support.

York Bid Improvement District (BID)

More successful is the trade funded BID. They have also provided a report (click) They report good progress in dealing with anti-social behaviour, Christmas lights  and litter in the City Centre.

The report says,

“So far the BID has invested in dressing 13 vacant shops across the city to improve the appearance of York’s high streets.

The most notable is the BHS frontage on Coney Street. Coupled with the anti-loitering scheme enforced by the BID Rangers, this has gone a long way to improving the aesthetic of an area which has been the target of littering, rough sleeping, anti-social behaviour and drug abuse”.

Less convincing is their claim that spending £36,000 on new direction signage will “encourage people to walk and thus improve health”

York Council to up litter bin emptying frequency in City Centre

"Rover" inspects new poop scoop / Litter bin at the entrance to Grange Lane park

“Rover” inspects new poop scoop / Litter bin at the entrance to Grange Lane park

New litter bins arriving in Westfield

We understand that the York Council will shortly consider extending the hours that litter bins are emptied in the City centre.

New bin on Chesney's Field

New bin on Chesney’s Field

A meeting taking place on 28th November will consider implementing the trial of an additional litter bin servicing round which will see bins emptied from 06.30 to 21.00.

The objective is to improve the visual appearance of the city centre foot streets.

Litter on our streets seems to have increased in recent months so the new plan is to be welcomed.

New bin in Foxwood Park

New bin in Foxwood Park

The trial is being sponsored by the York BID although the funding only covers the period up to the 31st March 2017, when the success of the initiative will be reviewed.

Meanwhile litter problems in the Westfield area are being tackled.

New and replacement litter/poop scoop bins are being installed at some locations this week.

The bins are being funded by the Ward Committee.

Still a lot of litter on Bramham Road

Still a lot of litter on Bramham Road