Phil Bixby and Helen Graham – as My Future York – facilitated a large scale public engagement process called My York Central in 2018. This generated Big Ideas, a Vision and Principles for York Central. Some of these ideas made their way into the masterplan and are reflect in the outline planning consent granted in 2019 but many did not or where not foreclosed.
Out of My York Central came York Central Co-Owned (YoCo), a community group that aims to carry forward the ideas from the public engagement process and develop a co-owned neighbourhood on York Central as a model for the rest of the site.
In order to develop the ideas, networks, profile and momentum to really ensure York Central is what the people of York want and need it to be we have set up a collaboration with Demos we’re calling Crowdsourcing a Community Plan for York Central, using an approach they call Combined Choice to manage a processes of community action to develop alternative plans and – through a digital platform – the ability for a large number of people (up to 10,000) to express preferences/vote/comment on the emerging plans.
As part of York Design Week, we collaborated with Owen Turner of United by Design to develop a playful workshop seeking to expand the repertoires through which we can think about, talk about and imagine the future of movement in York.
The blurb for the event stated:
York’s conversation about transport is stuck. There is a danger we circle back time and time again to the same debate that is always in danger of becoming reduced to cars v bikes. New thinking is needed – and we need your help.
In this fast paced and playful workshop we’ll generate a creative archive of ideas, images and feelings from people of all ages that can be drawn on in future public engagement processes in order to change the dynamics of transport conversation.
We’ll work with what is shared – that people who live in York want movement around the city to be quick, feel like freedom, to be safe, to be easy and convenient and to give us a feeling of being in control. Expanding these ideas we’ll use colour, drawing, emojis, photographs and objects collating them as we go along into a public online archive.
We opened up the discussions by asking: What makes good movement? In three words.
A variety of responses where shared from with a group of people who wanted movement to be ‘easy’, ‘nippy’ and ‘efficient’ and crucially appropriate the journey. And others who were interested in ‘calm’, wanted to be able to make ‘spontaneous’ choices or event be ‘slow’ and ‘inefficient’. The ideas of ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ recurred, which had also figured in discussions in My Castle Gateway and My York Central.
We then went on to reimagine five very common ideas about movement. Spending five minutes on each and moving on quickly but with the aim of gather everything together so we can see what we’ve all contributed at the end.
We asked: What colour is quick? What colour is slow?
Ideas 2: Free
We asked: In one line, describe a time you felt free…
Summer – always summer – walking in France or even just the fields around York
On Eday (island), Orkney, with limited options to get off!
Letting go of everyday cares because there’s nothing you can do about them.
Walking in open countryside
Walking in the middle of the North York Moors – no extraneous noise, no light pollution
Laying on my back in an upland French field beneath the blue sky
Camping on the commons, owning the space
Surfing in the North Sea
Snowboarding and looking out to snow capped mountains, blue sky, fresh cold air
Running through the city or countryside (exploring)
Descending an Alp, crossing countries by bike, under pedal power alone
Wild swimming in France
Idea 3: Safe
We asked: Draw how being safe feels.
Idea 4: Easy / Convenient
We asked: Pick an emoji that represents ‘easy’ or ‘convenient’
Idea 5: In control
We asked: Find an object that makes you feel in control.
While the aim of the workshop was to rapidly expand our ways of making sense of movement rather than synthesis or drawing things together neatly, we ended the workshop by asking…
If there was anything that surprises you?
If you think there is anything here that will be useful for developing the conversation about movement in York?
Part of what was important about the workshop was using the occasion of York Design Week to try something new in terms of workshop format. In particular to collaborate with Owen Turner to explore practically how to reimagine the conversation about transport in terms of the York Design Week themes of ‘play’ and ‘make space’.
A couple of weeks on from the workshop we reflected on what we’d taken away from the experience.
Talking about transport in York usually happens in very particular and often polarising ways. What worked was very rapidly expanding and extending what movement is to include colours, feelings, images and memories. The power lay in approaching something you think is very familiar from many different directions and through different people’s eyes and finding it might not be the same thing at all. What I’d be keen to do next is think how this method might work with different people and linked directly to our ongoing work in My Castle Gateway and My York Central. Big thanks to Owen for the inspiration, prompts and creative energy.
I get around a lot by walking, and also riding a bike – which I do for pleasure as well as utility. I love buses and (used to) use them often, and I also drive when I need to – I’m a double-car-user as I own a car but am also member of a car club. So when people start arguing about conflict between modes of travel, I’m riding a lot of horses at the same time. We need to draw the discussion back to a more wide-angle view of what we want in our cities and how those cities enable us to have these things – interaction, health, activity, utility, joy. We won’t get there by arguing over detail of any one mode of transport – including the downsides of cars. Can we look more at the qualities of experience, at the words we use to build narrative? Can we do this in a way which is loose, and fun, and accepts it’s part of a long-term conversation? Nice work Owen, in nudging us (and all the participants too, probably) out of our comfort zone.
Having the opportunity of working on new things is always really exciting. Working with incredibly experienced and wise people also is really satisfying. Being able to collaborate on an area of work that is open to change and new ways of working to develop new outputs from familiar starting points to give insightful perspectives and views from a range of individuals. Working with Helen and Phil on the workshop was a wonderful experience around a topic that we can all feed into and have an impact on – making it as accessible as possible. Thinking differently, using playfulness, creativity and strategy to a workshop scenario was so very satisfying!
This event held as an online session due to Coronavirus – many thanks to all who took part. Many thanks especially to Neil Murphy, managing director of TOWN, and to Ian Gray, Project Director, for Network Rail and Homes England who are the master developers of the York Central.
Here are some notes which summarise today’s discussion. The event ran on the same format as with Chris Thompson from Citu on 21st March.
After brief introductions from everyone, Phil gave a brief update of where we are up to with the York Central Co-Owned (YoCo) proposals – starting from the My York Central big ideas and leading through a number of public events to this one here.
Ian Gray then outlined his thinking in key areas:
Investment models: The master developers are looking for ‘patient capital’, long-term investment. Through the procurement of partners who will view the project over a 40-50 year timescale.
Ownership models: are exploring leasehold models to enable this long-term investment.
Community-led: Too often developments ignore community-led and only give it a little leftover space at the end. The aim is to use the planning requirements set out in the outline masterplan for custom and self-build homes and to go further.
Timescale: Ian then briefly outlined his thinking on the early stages of the development of York Central. There would be Phase 1 Commercial (near the station) of around 300-400,000 sq ft and Phase 1 Residential (near Leeman Yard). He noted that initial phases off Leeman Road had the potential for around 400 homes, and that he was keen that this first phase “set the tone” by showing an intention to do good quality development working in partnership with the community. The aim would be for these to be advanced by the end of 2020.
Sustainability: Scope for a much more innovative approach going beyond the illustrative York Central masterplan.
Archaeology: Interested in getting a big community dig going once land near the station becomes available.
Neil Murphy introduced the work TOWN have been involved in recently:
Residents: importance of residents themselves building the community they wanted. This had an impact on the wider local area, despite happening at the tail-end of the overall development. Earlier community input gives more impact.
Cars: Much less use of cars and need for parking than predicted, so parking space allocated has been repurposed as share space. Car shares have been set up.
Different models of community-led – non speculative development: Not only the scope to start with a group but for developers to form a group. This enables non-speculative housing development. In a speculative model, there is a leakage of value. There is so much risk management in speculative approaches that quality is cut unnecessarily. Bringing together development-led and community-led means you can do non-speculative development. You don’t need a ‘tribe’ in advance, you can build a ‘tribe’.
Pioneers to get through development period: There is going to be a 15 year period before the York Central site is finished. You need people who want to be urban pioneers involved in the early phases, building the place and the community.
Procurement: It is noted that an open procurement process will be needed beyond the current process. Homes England are currently reviewing DPP3 and other frameworks to have a Dynamic Purchasing System. However, the Master Developers need a process that works for both Homes England and Network Rail.
Regional Planning: Is there a danger that without better regional planning, York Central remains just a pilot. Others responded there is real power in having a very strong pilot in terms of beyond 5% custom build and community led and sustainability standards.
Building a community-led vision: Real encouragement not to assume things won’t be possible – build a vision and stick to it.
COVID-19: How do we ensure the lesson being learnt now – the different ways of living lives – can be responded to in the planning York Central?
Community Land Trusts and Leaseholds: It is useful to think what is the problem to which Community Land Trusts are the solution? There might be no benefit in a community land trust if a leasehold process was set up well with community involvement in management.
YoCo: Imelda Havers (Yorspace) to facilitate the process of developing a group and vison for the YoCo site.
Wider site: Phil Bixby to continue keeping in touch with other agencies – such as JRHT – with a full recognition that this might be about other sites on YC not the YoCo site.
My York Central: News of when this wider conversation will begin again will be shared as soon as it is confirmed by City of York Council.
They included: ‘Homes for living, not investment’; ‘People, not more cars’ and ‘A community made through exchange’. We’re now working with York Central Partnership and City of York Council to make these ideas a reality on York Central.
In this meeting we will be working with Ian Gray, Director York Central Partnership to explore:
the York Central development timescale
how community-led development can engage with the master development structure being developed at led by York Central Partnership
how much space there is for us to work with and how to develop plans in relationship to the outline planning consent
how to move forward the more ambitious ideas to create an economic, social and physical structure that enables distribution of resources and enables genuinely affordable homes and a vibrant community
the kind of group and/or constituted structure we need to form to carry the ideas forward
Big Idea: Actively reengineer the inequities in York’s economy and society for redistribution of resources to respond to need and desire.
The connections between people/society and the neighbourhood establish what the economic flows are in each case (someone needing a social rent house, someone needing a workplace for a profitable company)
The place in which the buildings sit is as important as the buildings as it provides the connections between them, and also connections to the surrounding city
Homes are not investments, but people can individually or collectively invest in the neighbourhood
The neighbourhood includes everything including all profit-making stuff
Institutions and the community-led body can together target specific needs or opportunities which will support the vability economic model (affordable accommodation for staff, visitor accommodation for heritage/theme tourists)
There was a wide-ranging discussion. Here are key themes:-
Ebbsfleet, much bigger scheme than York Central. Trying to design communities where they don’t have cars.
An area purposefully left with holes so it can be developed to enable future development. That would be a real USP. Gaps = the anticipation of change over time.
Proposing rather than opposing:- instead of a road through the site (to prevent overloading of Holgate Road and Bootham) could we bring a tram / Very Light Rail route through it, linking the Park & Ride to the city centre via all the new housing sites (British Sugar site, Manor School site and York Central) reducing traffic so a through road isn’t needed?
How to deal with emergency services and deliveries. We must be able to design a pedestrian / cycling surface that can take emergency vehicles. Birmingham City Centre is a good example, large city centre deals with pedestrians and deliveries.
How to deal with affordability, as part of an intervention in housing inequality?
Marmalade Lane appears from the promo video painfully white and middle class.
Need to explore whether/how businesses might invest in affordable houses – one way to ensure the staff they want can live locally
Do we need to buy land and set up a Community Land Trust in order to create an asset lock?
It’s not for the faint-hearted.
But is that socially exclusive? Some people have got multiple jobs and don’t have time to get involved in community-led initiatives.
Part of this is recognising inequality – of money and time – but that all people are contributing in different ways, which are mutually beneficial.
Relationship between York Central and York City Centre
What about empty shops on Coney Street? Could there be residential in the city centre? Important not to have two different parts of the city that don’t speak to each other. Could we think of York as having lots of mixed areas that echo each other (rather that different areas that specialise in work / shopping / leisure / living)
It’s also about the Leeman Road area and community. Edible York has its apple store in Leeman Road and if there was a community kitchen in this area then could make chutney.
National Railway Museum / University of York connections
NRM – future of the railways. Recruitment and knowledge base of skills. Schools, GP practices, infrastructure. Put health centre near the station.
NRM – the main decisions are made in London. Really hard to get an interface with them. Has to be about connection, need that otherwise there will be a missing sprocket.
NRM – it shouldn’t feel like their aims conflict with our aims, how can it be one shared project? Maybe the conversation with NRM should be “how can the community help them achieve their objectives?” Things have moved on since Festival of York Central conversations.
University of York, VC – need to ensure there aren’t parallel worlds. Does the university provide a bit of a lever there? Needs to be driven together.
A new plan / a new model
We need to propose not just oppose.
The other option (to seeking help from NRM/CYC or UoY) is to just to do it. Draw up a new masterplan. Use Power to Change Seed money. Feasibility. Give it credibility. (It’s like wearing a high viz jacket:- no one asks you what you’re doing, you can just get on!)
Neighbourhood Plans? Ask Locality – Can you do a Neighbourhood Plan in a neighbourhood that doesn’t exist yet?
An anecdote that might be encouraging – residents for Lowfield Green, they’ve become a community even though they haven’t yet got a neighbourhood. Someone under pressure asked for help, and they all offered it. There is a Cameraderie. Community is not just about bricks and mortar.
Setting up the model for housing for Lowfield has already been very difficult. But we need to think about how they will think about it in 10 years time.
Is this just a little bit or the whole site? Things are developing so fast in terms of community-led in the development world, York Central Partnership might just be quite grateful.
Strong consistency of vision between the discussions tonight and the My York Central conversations. Make the most of this.
Land position? Ian Gray (Project Director) is focussed on how to set up the overall finance for the scheme, over next 30-50 years. This is designed around deciding what’s wanted on the site and how best to set up funding to enable it.
Do an alternative plan? Financial plan; spatial plan. Do a pilot proposal for a specific area. Start small but all the concepts are included in the neighbourhood. Use this as a building block. Make it modest and deliverable. Don’t sell it as an enclave, sell it as an approach which can be replicated across the site.
Research: Find relevant examples
Funding: Power to Change; Locality – what funding options? Who is applying for funding? Depends on the funds. Could be a loose model.
Neighbourhood Plans: Look into whether they might be useful?
Link with Neighbouring communities: We have contacted Leeman Road Residents Association.
Set Up Co-Owned York Central Group
Aaaaand… …we need to think about a name as “Co-Owned Neighbourhoods on York Central” is a bit of a mouthful. Just to kick off discussion:-
Next meeting in 13th January, 6.30-8.30pm, and will be held on York Central itself in the cafeteria at the Cinder Building, off Cinder Lane (YO26 4XD). All vry welcome!
The York Central Masterplan emerged from a process that took over three years (for just the most recent version – many recall proposals from fifteen years ago or more). There was conventional “consultation” on key early masterplan elements and access route, followed by My York Central process March 2018 onwards which included a five week Festival of York Central. The Masterplan formed a basis for an outline planning application submitted in August 2018. The application was approved by committee in March 2019.
The York Central Masterplan retained a number of key ideas from the original design proposals pre-dating the My York Central process: – a linear green space running through the site, a public square between the station and NRM, and closure of Leeman Road to allow expansion of the NRM. It included up to 2,500 new homes and creation of up to 112k m2 of office, leisure and retail floorspace.
The My York Central vision and eight big ideas were developed through public engagement in March – August 2018 resulting in around three and a half thousand Post-It notes collected and scanned, uploaded to Flickr and tagged to create a searchable database of public input. This open and inclusive process continued with public workshops to develop and refine the final My York Central Vision document, the Key Principles which underpinned it and the My York Central Big Ideas.
Fascinating questions arise from the intersection of the big ideas:
• How can we create an intergenerational circular economy?
• How can people downsize and use capital to invest in stuff which enriches neighbourhood and their lives?
• How can we make use of York’s inequality for good; How can we help York’s hidden creative industries flourish?
• How might the mixed-use neighbourhood of the future be more like the past than the present?
What would a mixed-use neighbourhood mean to me? Post-Its collected and clustered to identify key issues for the discussion in the final part of the workshop.
Looking for inspiration
There were two presentations to generate questions.
TOWN – Neil Murphy on the making of, and ten key lessons from, Marmalade Lane. A partnership between a creative developer and a co-housing group making a humane, much-loved neighbourhood.
Citu – Chris Thompson presentated on the Leeds Climate Innovation District. Innovative construction which provides training and employment, and co-ownership of public realm and energy networks.
Questions and answers, and further notes on Post-Its were added for discussion in the final session of the workshop.
York Central Partnership and Homes England
We then heard from York Central Partnership and Homes England.
Ian Gray (YCP project director) – Outline consent gets the project where it needs to be at this stage, and allows engagement by developers and finance partners. But it’s a starting point. Community engagement can shape it from here.
Helen Fielding (HE Leeds office) – Homes England have funding through Community Housing fund and other routes and are keen to support community-led initiatives as part of delivering the homes which the country needs.
The workshop then split into three discussions to explore different possibilities and approaches.
Tim Moon – collective custom build – What does custom build / self build really mean – how dirty do people get their hands? How do we do custom build at scale and where are there examples? How do we reconcile different expectations into a streetscape which works?
Imelda Havers – Yorspace and People-Powered Housing – what is Yorspace about and how is it going about building forever affordable housing? What legal bodies are needed and what are their different purposes? How will Lowfield Green happen and how might Yorspace be involved in housing on York Central?
Irena Bauman – Built InCommon and very local design & construction – how did we give up the process of actually building homes and let it become remote from us? How can innovative use of technology re-connect people with the homes built for them? How might flying factories create local training and local businesses?
Clustered Post-Its were set out on tables and everyone invited to join one table and take the issue forward. Aim was to ask:-
• What questions does this issue raise?
• Who do we need in the room in order to get answers and move forward?
• What are the immediate next steps we can take?
Identity is established at the beginning and confirmed at the completion of a project? Or does it form over the lifetime of a project as the community forms?
Identity can be based on history and heritage – which is more likely to be industrial or social than residential – but should also look forwards.
Identity should be organic and broad, not contrived.
Identity should speak to the broader community.
What does sharing actually mean – what are the shared places? They can vary from mainly private space which is occasionally shared, to the completely shared such as a common house or pub.
York Arts Centre (on Micklegate, now a bar) was a good example of shared space, available for all sorts of uses and appreciated by the community.
Communities tend to form around income groups – shared spaces are important as they allow these groups to mix.
Mixing Need to provide for groups which have social value – for example students remaining in the city and starting up businesses, generating economic activity. Start-up space has value.
New community spaces will have value to broader community beyond site boundaries – need to build bridges (literally as well as metaphorically.
We could bring water onto the site to create social space – the river isn’t far away.
The importance of the site should be acknowledged by all – especially the major partners (including the council) who should really think to the future.
Play is important in respect of intergenerational relationships – stuff of life gets done and is an opportunity for links between generations.
Good things can come out of chaos – name the killer hit single which was born in a pristine recording studio. Not advocating “designing in crack dens” but we should ensure there is some sort of chaos, some unformed places.
Haven’t heard the word “renting” – we need to retain student talent and their lives often don’t need ties of ownership. Can we provide this innovatively? For example intergenerational living and working – mixed neighbourhoods. If these are sufficiently dense and walkable then care provided for all works for the older residents too.
Play isn’t just for children – public realm is an “anchor tenant”.
Ownership High cost of acquiring land makes innovation hard, and makes affordable homes hard to provide.
“The council need to speak to each other” – silos need to be broken out of. Innovative thinking is needed and innovative partnerships are part of this.
Connections Connections with the past – “identity often comes from past transport and infrastructure”.
Need to open up connections with other parts of the city – create routes through the site but ensure these are not about traffic – don’t make them “normal roads”.
First step should be to revisit the public vision for the development, and see how the declaration of climate emergency allows for fresh conversations with highways and planners.
Wild space can make people happy and healthy – and also save money.
The proposed park is an own goal by being overly curated – we need natural urban space.
We should be creating wild places where kids can explore. But we can also grow food in cities.
Can we make York Central invisible from space? Can we make it better than carbon neutral, and can we make it so diverse “that it pumps out life-forms across York”?
The Next Steps
There was agreement that it was vital the community should be engaged in the development planning process right from the start. How do we do this? Should there be one participative community that acts both to monitor overall direction of the development and engage much more actively in aspects of it? What sort of body is most appropriate to carry forward the community’s involvement? Is it a loose, non-membership body where the consistent elements are the ideas/issues/proposals or is there a role/need for a body which brings greater individual/institutional commitment – some sort of “pioneer group” which is effectively the beginnings of a client body, representing the users of the new neighbourhoods?
There was much discussion about the need for a mixture of tenures. How do we establish what we need to ensure this happens?
There was a wish for the development to have outdoor space of all sorts – some to foster group activity, some to grow food, some to be full of wildlife. Who needs to be involved to make this happen? How can we think about bringing water onto the site? How do we ensure that re-thinking aspects of the approved outline planning consent is done with support from York Central Partnership?
We need to work out what sort of commercial space will work well and bring social value, and how York Central can become a place where creative industries thrive. How do we build links with the universities and other partners to develop a brief for this and make it happen? And more broadly, how do we ensure we have all of the necessary people “in the room”?
A lot of people stated that the development should be car-free. Since the masterplan was developed, York has declared a climate emergency and the most recent election / council power shift has potentially opened the door to reconsideration of the development’s response to transport issues. Can these be looked at in a coordinated way between the council (members and officers), local groups (such as Civic Trust Transport Group / York Environment Forum / YCC etc) and interested individuals?
Thursday 28th November 2019
Friargate Quaker Meeting House, Lower Friargate, York, YO1 9RL Book a place
Our York Design Week event identified a range of issues – from sharing to wildness – and collective discussion of these flagged up a number of initial steps on the path towards a community partnership that could shape York Central and create homes, work, culture and play there. This event will look at these steps and we’ll start working out…
– what sort of body should we establish to carry this process forwards?
– how can we work towards a range of types of housing and tenures on York Central?
– how can we shape wonderful, wild, open space in an urban environment?
– how do we bring on board partners who will connect York’s amazing education and culture with learning, creativity and work?
– how can we ensure the development responds to the climate emergency and zero-carbon commitments which York has made?
Come along and collectively take this forwards. An evening of sharing of ideas and knowledge, planning and setting of goals. If you’re new to York Central and the community’s vision for it, then take a look here.
The Collaborative Hustings led to cross-party agreement for a Citizens’ Assembly for transport to create long-term and cross-party consensus. In getting there the Hustings was structured to move from small scale everyday issues like potholes to overarching aims such as creating a happy city where everyone belongs – but what proved really sticky was what happens in the middle scale in terms of putting ideas into practice…
On 24th April council candidates from all four major parties gathered with 25 members of the public to experiment with a collaborative approach to local elections hustings.
The motivation for experimenting with a collaborative approach in York arises from the fact that council leadership often changes between election cycles and therefore many issues – if they are to be addressed long term – need cross-party co-operation; a point that was noted by some of the candidates.
We chose an issue that everyone agrees is urgent but long-standing:- traffic congestion. We knew there were potentially differences between the parties in terms of the nature of the issue and how to address it, but also that there was plenty of scope for common ground. Traffic congestion is also a very knotty issue with only vague geographic and conceptual boundaries (it connects to health and economy). It is also an issue which has a lot to do with individual people’s actions – and so needs to be addressed collaboratively between the council and citizens.
The approach we took was to see if we could move from the everyday issues each of us experience in our movement around the city to overall goals for movement in York. We asked a spokesperson from each party to respond from the perspective their party and then we sought areas of agreement.
Starting specific: Everyday issues
We began by sharing a journey we do regularly, working together to pull out and note the issues. We then quickly clustered them on the wall. Key issues were: potholes, congestion, air quality; disappearing bike lanes; Park and Ride buses not stopping on their way into town; Pedestrians feeling as though they are at the bottom rather than top of the hierarchy of users.
Explore fundamental purposes: Overarching goals for movement in York
We then distributed each of these clusters to a group to use a ‘7 whys’ approach to get to fundamental purposes. This is where the idea of going from potholes to human happiness comes in. You – a bit like a toddler! – ask ‘why’ seven times to try and get from specific to really articulating why something is important, what its values are.
Our example of the technique was…
Park and Ride buses don’t run late in the evenings. (“why is this important?”)
People can’t get back to their cars after evening theatre or cinema or similar events (“why is….”)
People will drive into the city centre or more likely simply give up on it as a place to spend the evening (“why is…”)
The city centre gets left to those who are living and sleeping there – mainly tourists (“why is….”)
People who live on the periphery of the city cease to feel involved in and invested in the city centre (“why is….”)
The city centre quietly dies and people in the outer parts of York don’t care
All of which leads to an over-arching goal – We want a transport system which means the whole city belongs to everyone
A series of fundamental purposes – of goals – for movement in York were identified.
But what proved a bit tricky: questions of implementation
However, it was clear that going through the ‘7 Whys’ was a far from easy process. Many groups got understandably caught up in the fourth or fifth layer of whys which often focused on the difficulty of how to address a specific issue. This was so instructive and illuminating. In York it isn’t that we don’t have well-articulated overarching purposes that are shared between parties. For example, One Planet York; Human Rights City and now Zero Carbon. But what is very tricky, and is the real work of local politics, is the translation of these commitments into practice.
Perspectives from the political parties
At this point we asked each spokesperson to reflect on the issues from the perspective of their party.
The spokespeople were Cllr Peter Dew (York Conservatives); Cllr Andy D’Agorne (York Green Party); Cllr Johnny Crawshaw (York Labour Party) and Cllr Stephen Fenton (York Liberal Democrats) and you will be able to read their statements here soon [currently waiting for them to be approved].
Areas for collaboration: How to build a legitimate vision; translation into policy; levers for change
As the spokespeople were talking we asked everyone else to listen very carefully for areas for collaboration. These were the areas for collaboration that emerged:
There was a shared cross-party commitment to run a Citizen’s Assembly on transport. The shared motivation for this was to take these very difficult issues out of the back and forth of party politics and create legitimacy for a shared long-term approach.
Proactively shape conversations with funders
There was a sense that having this clear and cross-party vison would allow York to develop a common voice in approaching funders. For York to decide what the city wants and base funding approaches on this, rather than simply accepting external priorities.
Responding to the difficulty of the middle level of the issues – the implementation – there was an agreement to explore the effective use of Supplementary Planning Guidance and the forthcoming need to produce a new Local Transport Plan. Both were seen as possible direct outcomes of the Citizens’ Assembly.
Citizens Assembly ‘Plus’: Building collective understanding and change
There was a shared interest in ensuring everyone in York understood the issues – the need to understand behaviour (for example “why do people make specific journeys in the way they do?”) and the role of education in bringing change were discussed.
Our reading of this – not something agreed at the event – was that this could be something to link to the Citizens Assembly and a way of potentially stoking both its legitimacy and capacities for making change. The vague boundaries of traffic congestion imply the need for broader deliberation, and the long-term nature and likelihood of change over time mean the conversation needs to be long-term. A Citizens’ Assembly would be a very positive way forward, but even better might be a Citizens’ Assembly Plus a connected citizen-driven framework whose broader work gives the Citizens’ Assembly greater capacity and insight.
In preparation for the My Future York Collaborative Hustings we’ve gathered together links to the four main parties political manifestos in one place. All have sections focused on transport and movement.
Hustings are usually a combative affair. This local election season in York, can we create a more collaborative approach? Join us for the My Future York Collaborative Hustings.
In the My Future York Collaborative Hustings we plan to reframe hustings – or, in fact, tap into its more ancient meaning. While today ‘hustings’ immediately evokes a series of candidates making speeches and answering questions for an audience, its arcane use, from Old Norse, is ‘an assembly for deliberative purposes’.
For the 2019 Collaborative Hustings we have chosen a specific issue facing York: traffic congestion. While there are significant differences between political parties in how we might tackle traffic congestion, there is cross-party and wide spread public recognition that congestion is an urgent issue. It’s also an issue with only the vaguest of boundaries, touching on transport, urban planning, environmental issues and the nature of our city centre – it’s much broader than a single manifesto issue.
Traffic congestion is also an issue that cannot be fully understood or simply fixed top down by politicians. It is linked into everyday experiences, actions and choices made by all of us who live in York. It is, therefore, an issue that we need to address collaboratively.
We’ll start the hustings by collectively identifying the key issues which contribute to creating traffic congestion and then coming together to map out the issues, seeing how they might connect and identifying where the leverage points for change might be. We’ll then ask candidates from all parties to talk about how they might respond to these issues and leverage points and look for the commonalities in approach. We will then work together – councillors-to-be and citizens – to set out how all of us can contribute to putting a long term collective approach into practice.