Bus shelter upgrades get underway

Improvements to local bus shelters have got underway, with digital displays and audio installed at the bus shelters on Moorcroft Road (near the shops) and Eason View (near the junction with Chaloners Road).

The work has been made possible thanks to the £17.4m Bus Service Improvement Plan funding that was secured by the previous Lib Dem / Green administration which ran City of York Council before May 2023.

Where the display shows minutes, eg ’11 minutes’ then that is a real time estimate based on location information sent by the bus. When the bus is approaching (less than 1 minute away) it will display “Due”. If the display does not receive information from the vehicle it will display the scheduled timetable departure from that stop eg ‘12.25’.

The display may not receive information for a variety of reasons such as the equipment on the bus is missing/faulty or it is passing through an area with poor network signal. It is only as good as the information provided by the operators.

It is planned to roll out these features to more bus shelters over the coming months.

Bus route changes as resurfacing work starts

Moor Lane resurfacing work gets underway on Monday 19 June at 7pm. The overnight closure of the road between Cairnborrow and Eden Close will have an impact on the number 12 and number 14 bus services.

Due to the location of the closure, buses will not be able to operate beyond Grassholme and will instead terminate at Woodthorpe shops.

This means that the stops on Moor Lane beyond Grassholme and on the Alness Drive / Acomb Wood Drive / Bellhouse Way / Foxwood Lane loop will not be serviced after 7pm for the next ten weekday evenings. 

More information is available on the East Yorkshire buses website HERE

Date set for library re-opening

Explore York have announced that Dringhouses Library will re-open on 16th March after heating upgrade work has been completed.

The library closed on 13th February in response to concerns about the low temperature in the building, caused by a combination of winter weather and ineffective heating. A new boiler is being installed along with new convector heaters and new radiators. It has been confirmed that Listed Building Consent is not needed for these internal improvement works.

Cllr Stephen Fenton has welcomed the news, commenting “I was grateful that the Chief Executive of Explore agreed to meet with me when news of the closure broke, which came as something of a surprise. It is encouraging that the council’s Facilities team has been able to work with Explore to agree the specifications and get the equipment ordered and ready for installation.”

Dringhouses Library to close temporarily

Dringhouses & Woodthorpe ward councillors were informed by York Explore Libraries & Archives on 9th February that due to issues with the heating system at Dringhouses Library, it is planned to temporarily close the library from Monday 13th February until the end of the month.

Councillors have asked for an urgent meeting with Explore to discuss possible temporary solutions which would ensure that staff, volunteers and residents can safely access vital services.

Explore have said that an inspection identified that the current heating is insufficient to effectively heat the building. They have told ward councillors that a permanent solution has been identified and that action is being taken to obtain appropriate advice and permissions from Conservation Officers at the council before the work can progress, given the listed status of the building.

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Cllr Stephen Fenton commented:

“It’s very disappointing to learn of the proposed temporary closure so abruptly, as no prior notice had been given to local councillors or residents.

“The library is an important much-loved local community asset and provides crucial services to many residents. I am particularly concerned about the impact of the proposed closure on elderly residents, who, for example, use the library to access the internet, to get help and advice and to have some social interaction. Any closure would also be a blow to young people for whom the library is a place for learning and enjoyment, particularly with half-term around the corner.

“Of course, the health and safety of the library’s staff, volunteers and customers always comes first, so it’s crucial to ensure permanent solutions are brought forward as soon as possible. However, in the meantime, temporary arrangements need to be put in place until the heating issues are fixed. I will discuss this urgently with York Explore Libraries & Archives.”

Call for number 12 timetable change

Councillor Stephen Fenton has asked council officers to work with Transdev to implement a change to the timetable for the number 12 bus service so that it will enable young people to get to school on time.

Transdev took over the route on 23 January after First Bus decided to withdraw from running the service. The service runs on a hourly basis, with Transdev agreeing with council officers to retain the number 12 timetable operated by First. The 12A service ended, but it was the timings of this service, rather than the 12, which best suited young people going to school.

For example, the current 12 timetable sees the bus depart Woodthorpe shops at 7.25am (which gets children to school too early) and 8.25am (which gets children to school too late).

This has led to a number of young people walking through to either Foxwood Lane or Eason View to catch the number 4 service operated by First, but this already busy service is struggling to cope – feedback from residents is that it is significantly overcrowded with the risk that passengers are left behind. This happened on Friday 27th January, when First ran a single decker which led to some passengers being left at the bus stop. Then on Monday 30th the scheduled number 4 service didn’t arrive, which again left passengers stranded.

Cllr Fenton has shared these example with council officers to highlight the need for a re-think of the number 12 timetable.

“Everyone wants the number 12 to be a success and to continue beyond the end of March. That is more likely to happen if the timetable is configured in a way that suits as many users of the service as possible, including young people going to school.”

Petition to save number 12 bus tops 1,000

Over 1,000 residents have signed a petition launched in December following an announcement by First that they plan to axe the number 12 bus service from 22nd January.

The online and hard copy petition – and an accompanying survey – was organised by Lib Dem councillors representing the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe and Westfield wards, as the loss of the number 12 would leave many hundreds of residents in Woodthorpe, Acomb Park and Foxwood with no practical access to public transport.

As well as the petition and survey, councillors organised a public meeting, which took place on 18th December at St James the Deacon Church Hall in Woodthorpe. At the meeting around 40 residents shared why the service is important for them, and what they would like the service to look like in future, if it can be retained.

The feedback gathered has been shared with council officers, who are currently working to find an operator to take on the number 12 service after 22nd January.

Stephen Fenton, one of the Lib Dem councillors for Dringhouses & Woodthorpe ward, thanked all those residents who have signed the petition, completed the survey or attended the meeting. Cllr Fenton said: “It was clear from the turnout at the meeting that this is an issue which local residents feel very strongly about, and the numbers who have signed the petition further demonstrates the strength of feeling locally. There were many personal stories shared at the meeting about just how vital the bus service is to enable residents to get to school, college, work, medical appointments or just to have access to some social interaction.

“Many bus operators are struggling with increased costs and driver recruitment, which has impacted service reliability and in turn made it more difficult to retain and attract passengers. And with the Government financial support for the bus industry due to end in March, it has all created something of a ‘perfect storm.’ In York we are better placed than most to weather this storm, having successfully bid for £17m of Bus Service Improvement Plan funding, but the future remains uncertain. The priority has to be to retain geographical coverage to prevent many of York’s communities, such as Woodthorpe, being cut off from access to public transport.”

The petition reads “I the undersigned back the Lib Dem campaign to retain a bus service for the communities currently served by the number 12 and call for the Government help needed to ensure the service’s long term viability.”

First Bus to axe the number 12 service

The local Lib Dem team has vowed to fight to retain local bus services after news emerged that First is planning to withdraw the number 12 / 12A service entirely from 22nd January.

Councillors and campaigners from Dringhouses & Woodthorpe and Westfield wards are fighting to retain local bus services

The route is now being put out to tender in the hope that an operator will take it on and offer a service which residents can rely on.

A report to a council Executive meeting on 15th December notes that Government financial support for bus services will come to an end next March, putting further pressure on already financially-stretched local councils.

The number 12 already benefits from a subsidy from the council, but even with this support, First Bus seem determined to axe the service.

Cllr Stephen Fenton is encouraging residents to sign a petition to retain this vital service, and fill in a survey HERE

Stephen commented “Now we know that First are planning to axe this vital service, it’s critical that an operator is found. I would like to encourage residents to complete our survey so that we can work with council officers to ensure we have a service that meets residents’ needs and which they are more likely to want to use.”

Cllr Ashley Mason added: “Unless bus services receive urgent long term support from the Government both financially as well as through driver recruitment, services will continue to be under constant threat of cuts.”

The local Lib Dem team has organised a public meeting for residents to have their say on local bus services. It will be on Sunday 18th December at 1.30pm at St James the Deacon Church Hall on Sherringham Drive.

UPDATED – Questions over the future of the McColl’s Woodthorpe store

Following the takeover of McColl’s by Morrisons, there are questions over the future of existing McColl’s stores, such as the one on Moorcroft Road in Woodthorpe.

The Competition and Markets Authority announced on 27 October that Morrisons’ acquisition of McColl’s from administration has been cleared. Morrisons subsequently issued a press release which stated that for 132 McColls stores where there is no realistic prospect of achieving a breakeven position in the medium term, the majority of these stores will be closed in an orderly fashion over the remainder of the year.

The Morrisons press release went on to say “Of the 132 stores that will close, 55 include a Post Office counter. Recognising the particular importance of the community Post Office counters to their local areas, especially around Christmas, Morrisons will delay the closure of these 55 stores until next year to enable them to serve their communities through Christmas and to allow the Post Office additional time to make alternative arrangements. We are currently working with the Post Office to see if nearby McColl’s or Morrisons stores could be part of the solution and we are currently looking at a number of potential stores for replacement Post Office counters.”

Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Lib Dem councillor Stephen Fenton has asked Morrisons to clarify whether the Woodthorpe store is among the 55 stores with a Post Office counter that have been earmarked for closure.

Cllr Stephen Fenton outside the former Woodthorpe Post Office in May 2019

Stephen said “Back in 2019 the local Lib Dem team campaigned to save Post Office services after the Woodthorpe Post Office closed down. The campaign had a successful outcome when Post Office services were accommodated within the McColl’s store. We are now faced with the prospect of losing not only Post Office services, but also the only convenience store serving this part of Woodthorpe, with the next closest being Costcutter store on Wains Grove and the Tesco Express store on Acomb Wood Drive, neither of which has a Post Office counter.

“The news that Morrisons was taking over McColl’s was welcomed by many, with the store on Gale Lane already having been converted into a Morrisons Daily store. But there are now concerns that the Woodthorpe McColl’s store might be among the 132 earmarked for closure, and so I have written to Morrisons to ask for clarification on this as soon as possible.”

UPDATE – a list of the 132 stores that are apparently to be closed has been published by The Mirror newspaper. The Woodthorpe store is not listed, but Stephen has asked Morrisons to confirm the accuracy of this list.

Councillors hit out at CityZap bus axe

Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Lib Dem councillor Ashley Mason has expressed concern at the potential impact of the decision by bus operator Transdev to axe the CityZap service between York and Leeds.

The service, which will cease operating on 19th November, has proved very popular with residents in Dringhouses who live along the route and commute to Leeds to work. Whilst passenger numbers have not fully recovered since the start of the pandemic, the CityZap has provided a convenient, affordable and sustainable transport offer for residents.

Councillor Ashley Mason commented:

“I appreciate the challenges that Transdev and other bus operators are facing, but it is very disappointing that a way could not be found to retain this direct service in some shape or form. Councillors would have been happy to invite users of the services to sit down with us and Transdev representatives to discuss this. With this unfortunate decision, users of the CityZap will be faced with more expensive and less convenient train journeys, or using a car, which from an environmental perspective is the worst possible outcome. The Coastliner service will remain but is less attractive as the morning journey from York Railway Station to Leeds takes an hour and a half, compared to an hour on the CityZap.

“I fear that unless Government takes seriously the warnings about ‘cliff-edge’ cuts to services when current funding streams run out, and provides investment that allows operators to plan ahead, there may be more bad news coming.”

Cllr Mason is asking local residents to let him know what the axing of the CityZap service will mean for them, so that he can make representations to Transdev to try to find a way in which the direct service that has proved popular with commuters could be retained in some form.

Have your say on ‘Enhanced Partnership’ bus plans

Residents are being encouraged to have their say about the detail of a proposed ‘Enhanced Partnership’ between the council and bus operators.

In April this year the Department for Transport made an indicative funding award of £17.3 million to City of York Council for its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). One of the proposed measures in the Plan is improvements to local bus service levels. To be able to make use of this funding, the council must enter into a statutory Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators.

There is now a public consultation on the Enhanced Partnership plans, which can be accessed at https://www.itravelyork.info/enhanced-partnership-consultation  The consultation closes on 8th September.

In the draft Enhanced Partnership Plan document on page 16 there is a proposed commitment (ref. A-BN1) for the council and bus operators to develop the core bus network, with a view to filling gaps in the current network provision.

In June and July the local Lib Dem councillor team undertook a residents’ survey in Woodthorpe and Acomb Park to gather feedback on local services and issues. One of the issues which frequently came up in the feedback was unhappiness with the number 12/12A bus service.

For many local residents, the 12/12A service is their only practical way of getting around, and so when the service doesn’t run to time or doesn’t turn up, it means that it can’t be relied on if you need to get to work, education or an appointment. And the withdrawal the 11S Sunday service when the pandemic began has left many residents effectively housebound every Sunday.

Last year we welcomed First’s introduction of the 12A service, to restore a half-hourly service between Woodthorpe and the city centre, but the route has not changed back to how it was, meaning that passengers travelling from town to the stops on the Woodthorpe loop have an elongated journey via Foxwood before coming back to Woodthorpe.

All of this means that if the service can’t be relied upon or doesn’t meet people’s needs, they are less likely to use it, and so the service becomes less viable financially.

We believe it is important that First, and the council, understand the importance of the number 12 service for Woodthorpe residents, so we are encouraging everyone to make their voice heard through this consultation.