A WIDE-RANGING blueprint for the future of York city centre has been launched by the city's Civic Trust.

The conservation organisation is calling for a series of measures to improve the city, from removing the A-boards that 'infest' public spaces to refurbishing Marble Arch, which it calls 'the smelly, damp and dark welcome to the National Railway Museum.'

The report, Sustaining the City Beautiful, which has been written by vice-chairman Sir Ron Cooke, says York's vital tourism economy, which supports 23,000 jobs, is facing increasing national and international competition from cities such as Liverpool and Bruges, and the quality of the historic core must be improved.

Its demands include:

• Improvements to the Piccadilly/ Parliament Street junction, where there is fundamental conflict between pedestrians and traffic, and the Rougier Street/Lendal junction, branded 'one of the busiest and most dangerous in the city centre.'

• Improvements to the access to York Railway Station, where traffic management is 'terrible' and the exit for pedestrians is 'awful.'

• Wooden fences to corral groups of commercial waste bins which currently clutter streets in the mornings and evenings, and the installation of new cigarette bins.

• Further efforts to remove street clutter, such as unnecessary signs, unused poles and plastic bollards which are in a 'truly awful condition.'

• The redevelopment of land below Clifford's Tower, and of the 'Merchants Quarter' between the Foss and the Walmgate Walls, and of the area between Stonebow and Layerthorpe.

• Improvements to more than 20 open spaces where people can sit and relax, most of which are in a very poor state and unattractive.

The report says funding for improvements could come partly from existing maintenance and transport budgets, and capital resources, at City of York Council.

But there would also be funds from other public agencies and individuals, and private sources - for example funding by Network Rail and the train companies towards the cost of a revamp of the station's access.

York Press:
Sir Ron Cooke pictured by bins which the report says clutter the city’s streets

Sir Ron said: "The projects are by no means an exclusive call on the council's funds: much can be done by private funding and partnerships."

He revealed that to 'speed the plough,' the trust had created a City Enhancement Fund which it hoped could help with some projects.

Labour council leader Dafydd Williams welcomed the proposals, saying he supported the idea of projects being funded through a variety of sources which did not rely solely on the authority.

Green group leader Andy D'Agorne said the initiative was 'very welcome', as it identified priority actions for all interested parties as part of day-to-day maintenance of the city.

Conservative leader Chris Steward said it was crucial that the trust acknowledged the limited budget of the council and had been so successful in getting matched funding in the past.

York Press:
MESSY: The report calls for the removal of unnecessary signs and poles