Scrapping Minster Badge will “threaten evening economy” in York


The Labour leadership have been asked to clarify their policy on evening charges following their decision on Thursday to scrap resident’s car parking discounts.

As well as providing a reduced fee in during the day, the Minster badge entitles residents to park for free at City centre car parks after 6:00pm.

Those without badges are charged £2.

The Minster badge is being replaced by a “frequent user” card but this will cost £20 and will be available to anyone.

The Council have also been criticised for not extending the discounts available to small/low emission vehicles in the City.

Huge increase in parking charges planned for York residents.

York’s unique Minster badge scheme which has helped to protect York residents from high car parking charges is being scrapped by Labour.

Under the LibDems, in 2011 residents paid £1.10 per hour to park at most City centre car parks (those designated as “standard stay”).

Residents will now see that increase by a staggering 82% to £2.00.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

The Council is offering what they term as a frequent visitor badge.

However these will cost £20 a year to buy (and are not restricted to York Council Taxpayers).

click to see full survey results
click to see full survey results

The Councils own survey (see left) of residents, revealed that the vast majority no longer drive into the City centre frequently enough to make such a badge a worthwhile purchase.

Only those using the car parks several times a week would get any benefit and they probably already choose to buy a season ticket. (A season ticket, which allows unlimited parking for a year, costs less than £500 for a small/low emission vehicle)

The news comes at a time when traders have claimed that Saturdays no parking fee trial had been a success.

The trial will have cost the Council around £20,000 in income. First buses will also have lost income on their Park and Ride contract.

Crunch time for City centre

So its crunch time for the City centre economy. Few residents are going to pay those kind of charges when they can get free parking at out of City shopping centres.

The Council is still promising “pay on exit” barriers at the Marygate car park, but that initiative is too little too late.

Even if the Lendal Bridge closure is lifted in March, it will take a long time to restore the City’s reputation with both residents and visitors.

The number of shoppers in the City centre was continuing to fall even before the Lendal Bridge closure

The next local elections are little more than a year away now though,  so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Labour are leaving an economic nightmare for someone to clear up.

Bus use in York down by 10% last year

Bus use click to enlarge

Bus use click to enlarge

Over a million fewer journeys were made by bus last year in York.

This is equivalent to a 10% reduction in “stage carriage” service use. The figures are described as “provisional”.

The Council has yet to respond fully to a Freedom of Information request on bus usage in the City.

Requests for the City to publish bus reliability information are also mired in a legal wrangle.

Although Park and Ride use increased from 4.1 to 4.3 million trips, it did not offset what is the largest single year decline ever recorded in public transport use in the City.

The start of the decline can be traced back to 2011 when the Council confronted the major provider of services in the City (First) in an attempt to get the futuristic ftr taken off York’s roads.

The ftr had been popular with passengers but the dispute led to a period of conflict between the Council and bus operators.

Recent attempts to “hype” a fares reduction through the media proved to be ill judged as many users found that their journey was actually coasting more.

The Council announced at its last meeting that it is scrapping the Quality Bus Partnership which has been a liaison point between bus operators, passenger representatives and the Council.

It will be replaced by another”behind closed doors” discussion group

NB. Following on from the bad news about reduced footfall in the City, the Council report has also revealed a drop in car park use from 1.62 to 1.52 million.

They are forecasting a net shortfall of £250k (3.5%) from parking income following data from the first six months.

The decline in use followed a decision by the new Labour Council to implement a 36% increase in parking charges.

York City centre shopper decline started in 2012

York City centre "to let"

York City centre “to let”

The calamitous decline in the number of shoppers in the City centre first became apparent in 2012.

In that year, the new Labour administration increased car parking charges by 20p for residents.

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

Yearly footfall figures click to enlarge

In 2013 they went up again meaning that residents faced a 36% hike in just 2 years.

We forecast that this could have major implications for City centre traders.

The additional traffic restrictions have simply accelerated the downward spiral with “to let” notice springing up all around the City centre as shops pull out.

In the period up to 2011 the, then LibDem led, Council had frozen parking charges.

It had even reduced them at an innovatory “shoppers car park” at Foss Bank.

Footfall figures reveal that for the first 3 years of the recession (2008 – 2011) the numbers accessing the City centre were remarkably stable.

2012 saw a 6% reduction while this increased to 12% comparing September 2013 with the same month in 2012.

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

Bus Journeys in York Click to enlarge

New traffic restrictions were blamed for the accelerating trend.

Meanwhile the numbers of bus passengers has also fallen away although the Council has so far refused to reveal the 2012 passenger numbers.

As we said yesterday, the Council seems to be frozen into inactivity with no real idea what to do to get itself out of the self created crisis.

Nero showed a greater sense of urgency.