Concerns over Marygate Car Park

Marygate car park equipment

 

Liberal Democrats have raised concerns over changes made to a city-centre car park ahead of this weekend’s Tour De France.

 owned car park on Marygate.

More surprisingly there is no option to pay by debit or credit card with only cash payments accepted.

Liberal Democrats say the move is a step backwards and has not been properly advertised. The changes are believed to have cost £100,000 with the installation of new ticket barriers.

 The move follows the unpopular introduction of anew charge which means residents will have to pay £20 for a Minster Badge parking pass.

 Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, commented:

 “The poorly advertised changes at Marygate represent a step-backwards for car parks in York as the pay by phone option will no longer be available meaning that motorists will no longer be able to use their cards to pay. As more and more services become cashless, it seems that Labour run York Council is going the opposite way.

 “There are some serious questions to be answered about spending £100,000 on the changes at the same time as asking residents to pay £20 for their discount Minster Badge. I don’t think local people will believe this represents value for money.

 “I am also concerned that these changes have been poorly advertised and many drivers will turn-up at Marygate expecting to be able to pay by card, but will instead have to trudge to a cash machine. Introducing the scheme just days before the busy Tour De France weekend is also questionable.”

Foreign language instructions clearly still visible state that credit card payments can be made.

Yesterday several bewildered  visitors were wandering around the car park asking for help with “change”.

Marygate car park gets barrier

The new equipment for Marygate has apparently has cost £100,000.

The reliability record of this type of system is also patchy

There are some big questions to be answered about value for money with residents discount Minster Badges now costing £20. .

NB. Will charges apply in the evening? How will badge holders exit without paying?

Residents now asked to pay £20 for “Minster” parking sticker

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The Council’s Labour Leadership are going ahead with their threat to scrap the free “Minster” badge which entitles residents to discounts on car parking charges.

This was introduced some years ago as a way of recognising that residents had paid for the car park to be established in the first place.

Residents will have to apply online to purchase a replacement badge. (Ironically, today, the web site https://www.york.gov.uk/minsterbadge links weren’t working).

The Council says that the charge will go towards making up a £280,000 shortfall on car parking income.

The shortfall has arisen since Labour increased car parking charges, some by as much as 80%, when they took office.

The new scheme means the end of “free” evening parking for residents. Free evening parking was something Labour campaigned for in 2007 when a £1 per evening charge applied for residents.

Now any resident, without one of the new Minster Badges, faces a £2 charge (the same as visitors).

When announcing their plans earlier in the year, Labour claimed that they wanted to provide an incentive for “frequent visitors” to return to the City, but it now appears that those living in the City’s hinterland will NOT be able to buy a badge.

With around £300,000 in car parking income now at risk because of the free morning parking introduced at some car parks on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday, it seems unlikely that the council has got its sums right.

We predict a strong reaction against the new charges from residents, some of whom may now choose to shop, and play, away from the City Centre.

Spy camera car in Acomb shopping centre?

Minster FM is claiming that the parking enforcement camera van has now expanded its coverage area to include shopping streets.

Amongst them is Front Street in Acomb together with Acomb Road itself.

Traders in the sub-urban area have been having a difficult time over recent years and any suggestion that customers could pick up a £70 fine for parking would be an unwelcome development.

Free parking is one of the few advantages that small traders in Acomb have over the retail giants.

The camera car was introduced to stop poor (sometimes dangerous) parking outside primary schools in the City. Although not popular with everyone, we recognise that the initiative was a genuine attempt by the Council to address a real problem.

Local schools being monitored include Westfield and Woodthorpe

Extending the use of spy cameras to routinely issue tickets in less critical streets would be a step too far.

spy car

We are fortunate that York’s parking wardens (civil enforcement officers) do exercise discretion before issuing fixed penalty tickets. That approach needs to continue.

It appears that the Labour Council have learned little form the Lendal bridge fiasco. There, the crude use of cameras to enforce restrictions that were misunderstood by many, damaged the City’s reputation.

Labour’s inclusion, in their budget for the current year, of an additional £150,000 from spy camera generated fines confirms that they intend to continue the war against their own citizens.

NB. Respondents to our survey in west York have come out by 2:1 against the extended use of spy cameras in the City.

Free Car parking in York – decision

“Free” car parking at some City centre car parks will be introduced – possibly as soon as next week.

Castle short stay car park

Castle short stay car park

Tory and Labour Councillors combined to vote down a proposal which would have seen the “free” period restricted to off peak hours.

Instead the scheme will start at 8:000am the height of the rush hour. It will still finish at 11:00am.

The meeting, at which the issued was discussed yesterday, did not receive any new information about the effects that the concession will have on traffic levels on the highways network.

The plan could operate for up to 12 months and applies only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Most of the best used car parks – including Castle – are excluded from the concession.

 

“Free” parking – decision later today

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The decision to allow free car parking at some City centre car parks has been called in for reconsideration. The meeting takes place later today (Monday) commencing at 5:00pm at West Offices.

The main area of concern relates to the proposal to have free parking between 8:00am and 9:00am – times when the highways network can be congested, and most City Centre shops are closed.

Those studying the reports, by officers of the Council, have been surprised that no modelling work appears to have been undertaken to assess the impact that the additional traffic would have on journey times.

Similarly the papers fail to provide any detailed assessment of the assumptions made regarding the reduction in income that the changes may have on the Council’s budget overall, although much of this will be offset, for a short time, by use of Section 106 contributions from the developers of Monks Cross.

All in all, there are a lot of questions still to be answered on a policy change which is supposed to be implemented on 26th May.

Free parking in York – new revelations

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Proposals to introduce free parking at some City centre car parks were agreed by the Labour Cabinet last week.

The “free parking” plan covers the period between 8:00am and 11:00am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Only a limited number of car parks will benefit from the change.

The plan has been heavily criticised as it will encourage more traffic onto the highways network between 8:00am and 9:00am when congestion is at its worst.

Labour claimed that the plan was the result of a proposal from businesses in the City

…..but we can reveal that was not the case.

In their original plan businesses wanted to free parking to operate between 9:00am (when most shops open) and 11:00am.

They did favour the concession being available between Thursday and Saturday but wanted to to apply to all car parks.

Pay on Exit” would also have been introduced at the Castle car park as well as at Marygate.

“Free” car parking report published

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The York Council has sneaked an additional report onto the agenda of its “Cabinet” meeting which is taking place on 24th April.

It will discuss the plans for the free City centre parking scheme – which was originally scheduled to be considered on 6th May.

The change to the agenda has not been formally publicised, so many residents will be unaware that they have very little time – over Easter – to make their views known.

The report says that any continuation of “free” parking – after the Vanguard section S106 monies have run out – will be funded by City centre businesses that will be expected to participate in a “Business Improvement District” (BID).

The last attempt to form a BID in York floundered as most businesses did not wish to subscribe.

The Council has admitted that the scheme will cost it £275,000 in income plus any reduced income resulting from those drivers who switch to the free period from other times of the day (or from those car parks on which charges wills till apply like Bootham Row).

Our estimate of £500,000 a year in lost income seems about right.

The Council seems to have no idea what the impact on the viability of park and ride services will be. No allocation for lost fare revenue is included in the costings.

No consultation with NCP and other private sector car park operators appears to have taken place.

The report is silent on how visitors will be reminded that, if they arrive during a “free” period, they may still need to purchase a pay and display ticket if they intend to continue their stay after 11:00am.

Some Council car parks will still charge £2 an hour during the “free” period. Quite why anyone would chose to pay when they can park for free nearby is not explained!

No assessment is made of the effect that the scheme will have on peak period traffic volumes. There is no acknowledgement of the impact that the change may have on deliveries which will be taking place in the Footstreets during these hours.

No attempt has been made to explain why the free period starts at 8:00am – before many businesses and most shops have opened.

We still believe that this scheme has not been fully thought through although the Council Leader James Al;exander asserts that he has spent 6 months working up the plan!

“Free” car parking in York

Since 2012 Labour has increased car parking charges by as much as 80%.

It has been an open secret that businesses in the City centre hoped to extract major concessions on car parking charges when the new John Lewis development opened at Monks Cross.

Castle short stay car park

Castle short stay car park

Even so, today’s Council announcement that there would be “free” car parking at many City centre car parks between 8:00am and 11:00am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays comes as a surprise.

Nothing is “free”. The loss of income – which would eventually fall on taxpayers – could be as much as £500,000 pa.

Dumping more traffic onto the highways network at the busiest time of the week (between 8:00am and 9:30am) could have far reaching consequences for traffic congestion.

The selected times are also those when deliveries are being made in the footstreets area

Park and Ride passenger numbers are likely to suffer, while many shoppers and short term visitors may well choose to do their business in the 3 hour “free” period, leaving car parks empty at other times of the day.

The Council isn’t even in a position to make such an announcement.

No Councillor or officer has that delegated power (just as the “Labour Group” had no constitutional power to remove the restrictions on Lendal Bridge).

But the Councils constitution and delegation schemes have been thrown out of the window in the last few weeks.

A report indicating the consequences of the proposal must go to the “Cabinet” meeting which is taking place on 6th May

Taxpayers, bus users (who would be delayed by added congestion) and rival car park operators will look with interest at the assumptions being made. The private operators in particular may regard the Councils plan as unfair trading given that the subsidy will apparently come from Section 106 monies derived for the Vanguard development.

With the Council heavily dependant on the £5 million that it receives from off street parking charges, the unanswered question is what happens when the Vanguard subsidy runs out?

A more flexible approach to charging levels is needed and new technologies make this possible.

However, like the Lendal Bridge trial, the plan has all the hallmarks of a badly thought through scheme.

Visitors who arrive back at their vehicles at 11:30am, and find that they have been fined for failing to “pay and display”, are unlikely to be very happy.

The safest option would have been to reduce the charges at off peak times and focus further discounts at identified “shopper’s car parks” such as Fossbank.

The Council should also get on with resurfacing the Castle car park (safety issue) and making sure that the “parking space availability” real time information is once again provided on both their web site and on the variable message boards located on arterial roads.

NB. The Council appear to have missed the irony of issuing, with their media announcement, a photograph of Councillors striding through an already full car park.