Tour de France prices in York

It seems that some local businesses are taking the Councils advice seriously and are trying to make the most of the weekend of the Tour De France Grand Depart.

On Thursdays the Council Leader said that our main objectives are to ensure local businesses benefit hugely”.


So how much can visitors expect to pay for their trip to Yorkshire on 5th and 6th July? (comparative prices for other summer weekends taken from trip advisor)

  • Cedar Court £302 per night (£243)
  • Park Inn £170 pn (£169)
  • Hotel Noir £236 pn (£161)
  • Royal York £983 pn (£983)
  • Elmbank £123 pn (£117)

Many other York hotels are now fully booked. However many are also fully for most weekends during the summer period!

So there is little evidence to suggest that the kind of excessive price hikes, seen at other major sporting events world wide, are taking place in York

What about camping?

Monk Stray is the only long term (9 days) option still being advertised by Visit York

  • Monk stray will cost £24 a night for a 4 person tent.
  • Parking for a motorhome will cost you £31 a night.
  • The Millennium Bridge site is a little more at £26 a night
  • 5 nights at the Designer outlet will cost £175

Parking is now advertised at £8 per day.

You can buy a Tour T shirt for £13.



Newgate Market consultation enters new phase

From 17 March to 7 April, City of York Council will be embarking on its final phase of consultation on the controversial £1.6 million Newgate Market’s refurbishment, and will be “showing how research and consultation with shoppers, traders and local businesses is shaping the new layout”.

The Council claims, “Using feedback, we have identified the most popular ideas which include creating a new wider ‘street’ from one end to the other to enhance pedestrian flow and open up views into Newgate.

“We’re also working with businesses in the Shambles on how they could maximise trading opportunities by developing dual shop fronts – one onto the street, another onto the market. Other ideas include looking at creating a weatherproof roof that lets in light, more and different designs for stalls, better signage and a new recreational public space behind the Marks and Spencer store.

Potential to create a lively food court complemented by new kiosks and Shambles businesses opening into the market is being considered for the south eastern edge of the market. Artwork on the walls and lighting installations, café seating, pop-up trading or evening events could be accommodated in this flexible space

The Jubbergate entrance and how it can draw Parliament Street shoppers into Newgate is being considered with ideas including an overhead canopy of lights which double as colourful ‘bunting’ during the day.

This final stage of public consultation will show the latest proposals, developed from workshops and general consultations in the foyer of the council’s West Offices from Monday 17to Monday 24March, in the window of 5 Silver Street, and also online from Monday 17March to Monday 7April at

Thoughts on what is liked best and what is liked least about the latest proposals will be gathered by questionnaires at the exhibitions and online.

Meanwhile questions are being asked about where the Continental market and Food Festival events will be located while Parliament Street is in temporary use for the regular market stalls.

York Council complaint levels high

The Council have belatedly published answers to questions posed at its meeting in December. One of the questions tabled asked about complaint levels towards the end of last year and also sought information about the source of service reports.

Concerns had been raised about whether some web generated reports had found their way into the system.

The number of complaints received by the Authority is reported as


Jun – Nov   2013

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3




Stage 3 complaints are the most serious. The classification means that the complainant remains dissatisfied with the response provided by the Council

The overall number of contacts with the Council (by channel) are:









Total telephone calls 2012








Total footfall 2012








Total Emails 2012








“do it on line” calls 2012








Total telephone calls 2013








Total footfall 2013








Total Emails 2013








“do it on line” calls 2013








“Smarter York” App 2013 – 200 reports.

So the number of reports of public service failings being made by York residents to the Council continues to grow.

The much vaunted Smarter York mobile phone “app” has proved to be a flop. The “app” was under-developed when launched and is very limited in its scope when compared to commercial alternatives like “My Council”.

The costs of dealing with contacts made by residents are much higher than were expected when the Council moved to its new HQ.

They bring further into question the wisdom of the decision by Labour Councillors to close down local branch offices in sub-urbs like Acomb.

More and more residents contacting the York Council – Smarter York “App” fails


Lunched amidst a blaze of publicity 18 months ago an “App”, that was supposed to transform the way that residents communicate with the Council, has flopped.

Council Leaders in London looking for an "App" 2 years ago.

Council Leaders in London looking for an “App” 2 years ago.

The Smarter York mobile phone “App” allowed residents to report an incident – including a photo – straight into the Councils contact handing system. The “App” cost £8000 to develop.

It ran into problems with the Data Protection Act in October of last year

Now figures released by the Council have revealed that only 200 reports were made using the “App” between April and September 2013.

That is only 0.07% of the total number of contacts from York residents.

Last year 321 residents used the system during the equivalent period.

Many of the reports are understood to have been made by Council staff during the course of their normal duties.

During the same 6 month period, other residents used the following channels to contact the Council.

  • Telephone 183,385 (2012 – 140,851)
  • Personal visit 60,841 (36,528)
  • Email: 32,106 (22,034)
  • “Do it on line” (council web site) – 7848 (7778)

The figures show a 37% increase in the number of customers contacting the York Council this year.

This will be deeply worrying for the Council, Leadership who anticipated that changing customer preferences would see a big shift to using electronic means to contact the Council.

Electronic transactions cost a fraction of the expense incurred in dealing with personal callers.

The whole business case for the new Council HQ was based on assumption that heavy investment in state of the art IT facilities would reduce day to day running costs for the Council.

This appears so far not to be the case.

The period covered was a time when residents were besieging the Council with complaints about revised bin emptying arrangements and new traffic restrictions in the City centre.

Meanwhile the Smarter York App needs to be upgraded to cover more public service areas.

In that respect at least, it has fallen far behind proprietary web based reporting tools such as “My Council” and “Fix my Street”.

York Council tackles issue reporting problems

My Council

The York Council has moved to address problems that residents were having reporting issues using the “My Council” mobile phone “app”.

The “app” allows users to report any issues that they find on the streets of the City. Copies of the report, a photo and locations map are then emailed to the complainant.

It has a longer list of issues that can be reported than the Council proprietary system (Love Clean Streets) The Council seems to have abandoned the “Love Where You Live York” web site although it is still advertised on their own site

It transpires that many of the “My Council” reports were going astray as a result of incompatible interface systems.

Easy to report footpath damage using "my Council"

Easy to report footpath damage using “my Council”

Now the Council says that the problem has been fixed.

We’d like to see systems like “My Council” fully integrated into the Councils working practices and for any responses to residents to include a confirmation that a problem has been addressed successfully.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Cuthbertson has tabled a question on the issue for Thursdays Council meeting
“How many complaints, forwarded to the York Council Contact centre over the last 6 months via web based reporting tools (such as “My Council”, “report that hole”, “report that pothole” etc), have been successfully recorded and actioned and how many reports have been discarded because of data translation problems?”

York Council loses dozens of complaints

My Council

At least 50 reports about failing public service standards in York have not been actioned by the Council over the last couple of months.

The Council has claimed that reports submitted via the popular “My Council” Mobile app were not processed because they were indecipherable when uploaded to the Council.

Rather than get to the bottom of the problem, the reports were ignored.

Now an administrator for the “My Council” web provider ( has stepped in and offered to sort out the difficulties.

More and more people are using web sites like “My Council”, Fix my Street , and Fill that hole” to report issues.

This is to the advantage of Councils because the costs of processing issues electronically are much less than hard copy mail, personal callers or telephone communications.

However this case is likely to damage the credibility of the system in some residents eyes.

The Councils own mobile app (Smarter York) allows only a very small number of issues to be reported and user numbers have been disappointing.

The “Report it” section of the Council web site is cumbersome and has similar limitations.

The Council has been asked to sort out its data interface problems, ensure that reports blocked over the last couple of months are now entered onto its systems and to make efforts to contact those residents who may be unaware that issues that they have reported have not been actioned.

The industry generally needs to do more work on interface issues.

Councils in other parts of the country may be affected by incompatibility issues

Labour to ditch York Community Centres.

The latest in a long list of poor decisions by the Labour Council could see four community centres in York close.

The provisional budget for next year sees all the community centres (Chapelfields , Foxwood , Tang Hall , and Bell Farm) lose their Council grants.

Typically a community centre costs around £50,000 a year to run with most income generated from hiring rooms.

The Council are to cut their financial support entirely leaving some of the centres with a 5 figure budget deficit.

Already the community centre caretakers have been issued with redundancy notices (although they are likely to be redeployed within the Council).

The Council says that it wishes to see the buildings transferred into the ownership of a voluntary committee with a community asset transfer by April 2015

This seems to be what has prompted the Tang Hall centre to announce that it is changing the legal status of its voluntary committee.

The voluntary committees undertake a thankless task and deserve Council support.

The Foxwood and Chapelfields centres depend entirely on the resources of local residents to continue, while Tang Hall was only kept going when Labour Councillors were parachuted into key roles.

Burton Stone community centre future unclear

Burton Stone community centre future unclear

Burton Stone is a larger building and its future is much more unclear.

Without caretakers, the buildings will be closed to general callers reducing their use as a focal point for neighbourhood communications. One Community Centre (Tang Hall) has already leased office space to an outside organisation.

All the Community Centres are located in what the Council regards as “deprived areas” .

The Council hopes to save £180,000 through the cuts. Most of this will come from the Burton Stone centre.

NB. The Council is planning to spend £1.6 million hosting just one day of the Tour De France cycle race.

Click here to download a full list of proposed cuts (see ref Can 12)

Late night economy consultation

City of York Council is inviting residents and visitors to share their experience of and thoughts on York’s evening and night time economy to support plans to improve its quality and long-term future.

This single consultation will feed into three cross-party council Overview and Scrutiny Committees and, as such, is the first to cover such a broad sweep of interests from leisure to business and the public realm. It will inform work to develop a vision of what the evening and night time economy in York might look like in five years time – to be called Yorkafter5.

Feedback will also add to that gathered from an earlier consultation on proposals for a late night levy and the impact of alcohol on the late night economy.


Street level public service standards – plea to York Council next Thursday.

The York Council at a meeting next week will be asked to jettison its prestige expenditure plans and return to a more sensible economic policy.

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

A motion being put forward by the Liberal Democrats condemns deteriorating roads, footpaths and increasing litter as well as plans to reduce de icing services in winter.

It says that Labour’s decision to scrap the “York Pride” maintenance programmes means that many areas are now strewn with weeds and detritus.

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Recent rain highlighted the impact that Labours decision to end the routine cleaning of gullies (road drains) is already having.

Meanwhile a rather disingenuous motion from Labour Cllr Burton, seeks to justify the bill for York staging the start of just one Tour de France stage.

The cost to taxpayers is already in excess of £1.5 million and rising.

The Labour backed motion says that any income to the Council from the event should be allocate to improve basic service standards.

It fails however to say that the income from a few hot dog stands is unlikely to make much difference.

The cost of the repairs back log on the City’s roads and footpaths alone now stands at over £20 million.

The Liberal Democrat motion reads

Friday 13th – Looking unlucky for York Council as traffic congestion and un-emptied bin problems mount

The Council’s web site crashed for a short time as problems with traffic congestion and un-emptied waste bins mount.

Click to update

Click to update

A combination of the Lendal Bridge closure, poor weather and high traffic volumes is causing mounting delays on the northern by pass and the inner ring road.

Further congestion is expected tomorrow as the City hosts the “skyride”.

Meanwhile the backlog in emptying waste bins shows little sign of subsiding. There is talk of working on Saturday to address the backlog but how residents will be made aware of such a decision remains a mystery.

The local media have been strangely reluctant to report the scale of the problem pausing only to remind residents to put their bin out by 0700 hours – pretty much futile if the bins aren’t cleared for over 24 hours.

The Council is now saying “ on Friday 13th September some properties in the following streets did not have their garden waste collected as scheduled:

Poppleton – Streets and all streets off

• Station Road
• Longridge Lane
• Black Dykes Lane
• Main Street
• Ebor Way
• Montague Road
• Millfield Lane
• Beech Grove
• Westfield Close
• Willow Croft
• Hodgeson Lane
• The Green

Clifton – Streets and all streets off• Shipton Road
• Malton Way
• Brompton Road
• Rawcliffe Lane (part)
• Surray Way
• Filingsdale Road
• Eastholme Drive
• Northolme Drive
• Southolme Drive
• Westholme Drive
• Grasmere Grove
• Borrowdale Drive
• Westmore Drive
• Alwyne Drive
• Alwyne Grove
• Westholme Drive
• Potterdale Drive

Rawcliffe – Streets and all streets off• Bowness Drive
• Furness Drive
• Howard Drive
• Troutsdale Avenue
• Stainsdale Close
• St Marks Grove
• Bilsdale Close
• Manor Park Road
• Manor Way
• Rawcliffe Croft
• Eva Avenue
• Manor Lane
• Cobham Way
• Armstrong Way
• Conningham Avenue
• Village Street

We will return to these properties to make collections on Saturday 14th September. Please ensure that your bin is out by 7am as the crews will be returning early in the morning.