Deputy Leader Report Full Council July 17th

Having been one of the first two Green councillors elected
in the City of York in 2003 it is a real honour to be one of the first two
Green councillors within the administration running this fantastic city in 2019
and our first ever Deputy Leader working in partnership with the Liberal
Democrat group. This new administration aims to be different, responding
effectively to the climate emergency declared following the Green and Lib Dem
motion passed by all parties in March this year. Inevitably with a new leader,
deputy leader and several new executive members, many of us are learning how to
work effectively with each other and officers to deliver the changed priorities
we wish to see within financial and staffing constraints. I hope we can rise to
the challenge while fully engaging with residents, businesses and key
stakeholders.

Corporate
Plan and Budget additions

A key part of our negotiations to form a new administration
has been to work from our two manifestos to start developing a new council plan
for the coming four years and identify amended spending plans to take account
of our new priorities, especially responding to a shift in focus in the light
of the climate emergency. In particular, we have identified a need to build capacity
through staff who can lead on carbon reduction within the council, build
partnerships with others and learn from good practice elsewhere to help us to
identify appropriate funding and ‘quick win’ measures. Alongside this a
relatively small investment will allow us take a high level look at sustainable
transport implications of the Local Plan developments, including the latest
thinking on ‘rapid transit’ systems – light rail/tram to include updating work
reviewing the bus network which was completed in 2015. This will help to inform
the developments to our local transport plan which is expected to follow on
from adoption of the Local Plan. I hope this will complement the independent
consultation on local transport issues in the next few months led by the York
Civic Trust and York Environment Forum.

 Our additional
highways capital programme aims to invest in making our roads safer for
cyclists and drivers and a £1m investment in walking and cycling will be used
to ensure key locations have safe attractive and joined up provision for
walking and cycling. I also intend to consult with officers, ward councillors
and interest groups to review our winter maintenance plans – all our bridges
must be top priority for de-icing (including Millennium Bridge, Scarborough
Bridge and Hungate Bridge) and key strategic cycle/pedestrian routes must be
made safe on an equal footing to bus routes and walking routes to and from old
people’s homes, the hospital local shops etc. All this will be on top of the work
already planned for tackling potholes, Traffic Signal Replacement (TSAR),
highway resurfacing, junction improvements, car park upgrades etc.

Residents’
Parking

As you may have seen covered in local media following my
report to Economy and Place Scrutiny Committee on July 10th, I am
keen to follow through the findings of a scrutiny that I registered a year ago,
and agreed by the previous executive to review our residents’ parking scheme.
This includes some initial work to address the backlog of areas that are on the
‘waiting list’ and speed up the process of introducing these where residents
have petitioned for their introduction. I would also like to see greater
efficiencies in our administration systems, potentially linked to a reduction
in the basic standard charge to more closely align to operational and
enforcement costs of the scheme. I believe that such an approach could create
conditions for more widespread extension within our residential areas with the
benefit of boosting patronage of park and ride services and lowering urban
congestion on peak time routes into York. I am pleased to see councillors in
Clifton and Hull Rd wards are keen to explore the options for their residents
not currently covered by resident parking schemes and I expect there may be
similar demands from streets close to the Community Stadium, if displacement
parking is experienced there.

York Central:

Now that the Government has confirmed that it will not hold
an inquiry into the decision to grant outline planning permission for York
Central, this administration has been working to identify where improvements
can be made within the reserve matters application to enhance sustainability
within the project. Of particular concern within my portfolio area is the
impact that the additional traffic will have on the wider network. I am keen to
work with partners to find ways that we might reduce vehicle traffic impact
still further, in conjunction with new commercial occupiers as they are
identified and come forward with reserved matters detailed applications.

A report will be presented to the Executive shortly
highlighting the progress made on York Central to date, and what areas of the
project can be enhanced to fit with this administration’s priorities and bring
out the principles highlighted in the Design Guide.

Castle Gateway

The Castle Gateway project is continuing to progress, with
My Castle Gateway continuing to hold public engagement sessions over the
Summer.  These will refine the open brief for the new public area and look
in more detail at how we can create new spaces and new routes which connect
Clifford’s Tower, the Eye of York, Tower Gardens and the Castle Museum, with a
new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Foss.

The project will shape a new area of high quality public realm
on what was a prison for a century and then a car park for a further half
century- to be transformed into a beautiful setting that better reflects the
historical context and significance of this area in the heart of York. Along
side this work will be undertaken to enhance Piccadilly and provide alternative
(flood –proof) parking within St George’s Fields.

Anti-Idling Campaign

We launched our ‘Kick the Habit’ campaign in June to
coincide with National Clean Air Day to encourage more people to consider air
pollution and ways that they can help to reduce its harmful effects.  The
campaign aims to prompt drivers to switch-off their engines when parked, in
locations such as outside schools or when making deliveries. To support the
campaign, authorised council officers are also able to issue fixed penalty
notices of £20 to drivers who refuse to switch off their engines, after being
observed idling on the public highway for more than two minutes. This very much
helps to support awareness of the city centre Clean Air Zone that we will be
introducing next year and the continued drive to expand provision for charging
of electric vehicles in public places and new developments.

Sustainable
travel to school

I am grateful for the continued hard work of our Sustainable
Travel team in partnership with organisations like Sustrans in promoting
walking and cycling, offering cycle training etc. We are all aware how much
worse traffic is during term time and on a cold wet winter’s day – making
sustainable travel choices for the school run not only benefits the individuals
in terms of exercise, independent travel , mental health and the like it helps
reduce congestion notably around schools. I recently visited one primary school
where students had looked as road safety issues near their school and were
working together to come up with solutions – something as simple as getting
hedges cut back and tackling pavement parking can make a big difference,
particularly if led by demands from the young people themselves in a coordinated
way.

City
Centre Access

Considerable work has been done over the past 9 months
consulting with a variety of groups on how best to mitigate the impact of
essential security measures within the footstreets area of the City Centre. A
paper will be coming to Executive shortly on the outcome of this work and the
need to ensure we deliver appropriate measures quickly but in a way which
provides suitable facilities for people with disabilities to access businesses
and entertainment within central York. Consultation on recent changes in
Fossgate and planned changes in Piccadilly will also help to inform decisions
about  walking and cycling within the
wider city centre.

Devolution

The Council is continuing to support the efforts across a
number of partners and local authorities to secure a One Yorkshire devolution
deal. In the coming months their will be further discussions about our
relationship with the Local Enterprise Partnerships and how best we can work
together to secure the funding we need for the city.

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