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.

 

York Council to contribute £18,000 to new City Centre tourist signpost trial

In a behind closed doors decision, the York Council has agreed to spend £18,000 on new “Totem” signposting in the City centre.

A project, backed by the York BID and apparently with the approval of the York Civic Trust, will cost £36,000 for the trial in total The sum is mainly being spent on consultant’s fees but will result in some trial “Totems” being deployed.

The report goes on to say, “If the trial is successful and the programme is rolled out, this would need a significant contribution from both parties (for) which the BID has made provision and the authority would need to determine its position as a Council later in the Year”.

It is unclear how much this project may end up costing taxpayers and whether the funding would come from the “Make it York” organisation which now handles the city’s tourism budget.

The decision – taken by a Council official – is likely to widen the gap between the expectations of residents living in sub-urban areas and City centre focussed institutions.

Existing signs

Recently a commitment was made to fund a replacement for the Parliament Street fountain while additional expenditure may also result from the decision to make the revised Fossgate one-way system permanent.

There is a big question mark over the costs of maintaining the Guildhall now that the Council’s “business centre” project has collapsed. There are similar financial question marks about the Castle/Piccadilly redevelopment and York Central.

In residential areas, people are increasingly concerned about the quality of local highways. Many street nameplates are also  in need of repair. Public service standards are under unprecedented pressure.

Residents may feel that – unless paid for by business – the existing city centre direction signs will be adequate to meet needs.

After all, increasing number of people use “on line” maps and smart phones to find their way around.

Additional street furniture may actually represent a backwards step.

Last few days to have your say on city centre bike racks

Residents have just a few more days to give their views on potential sites for new cycle racks in the city centre.

City of York Council have worked ‘in tandem’ with York BID to identify 18 potential new sites for cycle racks.

Residents and other regular users of the city centre have until Wednesday 28 February to give their views at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CYCNewCycleParking
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Numbers visiting York on increase


Footfall figures in York city centre are up on last year as the critical Christmas period gets into full swing.

Yesterday (Saturday) York was “heaving” as thousands made their way into the City to view the ice sculptures and visit shops and markets. 

The City lights have general been well received this year reflecting well on the York BID and supporting organisations.

York summer safety initiatives unveiled – webchat for residents’ questions

Organisations in York will be working together to ensure that everyone can enjoy all that the city has to offer safely and responsibly.

York summer safety initiatives unveiled – webchat for residents’ questionsRecent initiatives and campaigns have seen North Yorkshire Police work closely with City of York Council, British Transport Police, city licensees and many other partners. These will continue throughout the summer, alongside new developments to make the city even safer.

Sergeant Nick Plumb, of York City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have come a very long way over the last few years, and we’re now working with other agencies and organisations more closely than ever before. Those efforts have ensure that York city centre continues to be a great place to work and visit.
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So is alcohol fuelled violence getting out of hand in York City centre

With seemly daily reports in the media about drunken behavior and violence in York city centre, what are the actual crime statistics for the area within the inner ring road?

Fortunately they are readily available on the Police UK web site

The latest monthly figures available cover the month of March.

Distribution of crimes

There were 448 crimes reported in March. The majority of these were for anti social behavior,violence and shop lifting.

It was a similar picture during the previous 12 month period

Crime type Total Percentage
Anti-social behaviour 2373 43.68%
Violence and sexual offences 790 14.54%
Shoplifting 649 11.95%
Other theft 419 7.71%
Bicycle theft 340 6.26%
Criminal damage and arson 220 4.05%
Theft from the person 173 3.18%
Public order 153 2.82%
Burglary 120 2.21%
Drugs 83 1.53%
Vehicle crime 41 0.75%
Other crime 35 0.64%
Possession of weapons 19 0.35%
Robbery 18 0.33%

Crime levels usually increase in the summer when larger numbers of people visit the City. Officials will be looking anxiously at the figures for April and May, when any adverse trends may become clearer

What happens to these arrested?

Some go to court, but most do not!

So who is responsible?

Many of the crimes are fuelled by alcohol.

Here the City Council must take some of the responsibility.

They have cheerfully nodded through more and more licensing applications and have even given planning permission for new premises such as the arts barge whihc will have a bar. They have been recommended to allow up to 5 new licensed premises at the shipping container village which is to be located near the Walmgate trouble blackspot.

Not all licensed premises contribute to the problems but it would be reasonable to ask all four candidates in the forthcoming general election what they want to see done to reassure residents that parts of the City centre are not becoming a “no go zone” during parts of the day.

Investment priorities changing in York City centRE

There have been several announcements about investment in the York City centre over the last few weeks.

Details of a new hotel in Hungate have been released while most of the troubled Stonebow building will become residential with commercial and leisure at street level.

In Piccadilly, the old NCP car park site may be turned into a hotel and flats.  Nearby, Ryedale House is set to become apartments.

The Council has rejected interest in building a hotel on the former Reynard’s garage site, controversially preferring a medium term retail option involving the use of  shipping containers! This has prompted renewed calls for a planning blueprint for the area to be agreed quickly, followed by comprehensive redevelopment work.

It’s not difficult to see why retail is being squeezed in the City centre.

economy-jan-2017

There are a record number of empty shops in the City with (potential) shopper numbers declining. This can be contrasted with hotel bedroom charges (and occupancy levels) which are at record highs.

Very high sale prices on City center apartments are being achieved .

A two bedroomed flat in the Westgate development sold recently for £245,000. It had previously been sold in 2012 for £168,000 – a 45% increase.

A new 2 Bed flat conversion in Goodramgate is currently advertised for £315,000.

The drift into a hospitality led City centre economy – buoyed by high visitor numbers and more local residents – seems likely to gather pace.

We expect to see more commercial premises including shops being converted into homes. 

York City centre traders desperate for good Christmas

tourist-numbers-2016

Visitor numbers were down in September

It’s nearly a year since flooding brought chaos to parts of the York City centre.

Recovery has been slow with visitor numbers down as recently as September (right).

……but there are some encouraging signs.

City centre car parks have been well used this month and particularly over the last few days.

The Castle car park was full again today.

However there is little sign that the York Council has got the message and improved its “on street” and “on line” parking availability information.

 

St Nicholas Fair has been popular this year

St Nicholas Fair has been popular this year

Those who do find a space will find that the St Nicholas Fair is busy.

After a poor start, the “Make it York” organisation, working with the “Business Improvement District” (BID) team, have done a better job this year.

There is something for everyone – including traditional children’s rides in Kings Square – although not everyone will be impressed by the reliance on alcohol sales in Parliament Street.

run-down-city-13th-dec-2016

Some parts of the City Centre are looking neglected

Some parts of the city centre are looking run down.

Coney Street – once the most popular shopping street in the City – has more than its fair share of empty properties since BHS closed its doors.

The Council is also guilty of neglecting some of its street furniture and signs.

Here hopefully the Civic Trusts “York Enhancement Fundwill help to redress the balance. We hope that more people will buy Ron Cooke’s thought provoking book “Changing the Face of the City” . The proceeds go to improving the City

city-centre-christmas-lights….and the lighting on the Bar walls has been acclaimed by many visitors this year.

2016 may yet go down as the year when things turned for the better in the York  retail economy

 

Fewer drunks on York City centre streets?

According to community safety officials problems with drink related crime in the city centre reduced last year.

York drunkA new report says, “alcohol-related occurrences have decreased by 3% (50 incidents) in 2015 .

ASB nuisance reports decreased by 11% (172 incidents). These reports include: begging and vagrancy, buskers, street urination, public order behaviour such as fighting or drunkenness and verbal abuse. Theft related incidents were also down”.

However, “Violence-related reports increased by 18 incidents in 2015”. Violent crime covers a wide spectrum from minor assaults, harassment and abuse that result in no physical harm to the victim through to incidents of wounding and murder

Most of the problems occur in Coney Street, Micklegate, Blake Street, Blossom Street and Clifford Street.

The highest levels of reported occurrences are during the summer months of July and August, together with December. Calls for police service are at their highest on weekends; Saturday and Sunday. This was consistent across 2014 and 2015.  Activity is highest between 1pm-6pm and midnight-4am.

In response to a small survey of City centre visitors by the Police, 52% felt that York was not family friendly on a Saturday afternoon, 50% felt that partner agencies were working well together to make York safe on Saturdays and 94% felt that seeing a police presence in the city made them feel safer.

The Police blame visitors from the North East and South Yorkshire for many of the issues.

More patrols are now operating on Fridays and Saturdays.  In addition, the Council are in the process of recruiting two full-time Licensing Enforcement Officers who will work evenings and weekends and whose duties will include visits to licensed premises to ensure they are complying with the Licensing Act 2003 and any additional licence conditions.

Unfortunately, the report makes no mention of the increased anti-social behaviour problems evident in some sub-urban areas over the last 12 months

Community Medical Unit for city centre

Photo Credit: The Press, York

Photo Credit: The Press, York

 

 

A new arrangement between City of York Council’s Safer York Partnership (SYP), Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) and Street Angels is set to give weekend support and assistance for people needing help in the evening in the city centre.

The ambulance service’s Community Medical Unit (CMU) and volunteers from Street Angels will be offering help to people in St Helen’s Square on Friday and Saturday nights as well as on race days.
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