Exhibition Square improvements: what we said

Exhibition Square, July 2015

Before we leave Exhibition Square and the art gallery and move on elsewhere, I wanted to share an interesting document found today by accident while looking for something else. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure what was happening regarding the fountain and the Etty statue in Exhibition Square, following the consultation last year and the repaving and bus shelter work already done.

I’ve now found the document detailing the responses to the consultation, in the form of a PDF document on the council’s website. It’s an interesting read, cheering in many ways, and amusing in parts.

Read it here (PDF)

It’s cheering because it demonstrates residents’ increased engagement with the built environment of the city and the council’s plans for it. When the consultation on the King’s Square proposals took place a few years back it had just under 200 responses. Which isn’t bad, I guess, but is a tiny fraction of the population of the city. Last year’s consultation, the report shows, had 651 responses. An impressive increase.


King’s Square, the changes in King’s Square, seem to have woken us up. The references to King’s Square and its ‘reinvigoration’ are so frequent in the comments, a thread running through the thoughts on the plans for remodeling another square.

The ‘SM’ is an abbreviation of ‘SurveyMonkey’ – the online service used in the consultation – denoting responses gathered via that route. For other abbreviations see the key in the PDF linked to above.


So many people were clearly alarmed/dismayed/angry at the attempts to turn King’s Square into a ‘world class space’.



Many expensive civic improvements seem not particularly successful in the longer term and therefore a waste of money. We have plenty of evidence of that in the recent demolition of the ‘Splash Palace’ toilet block and the debate about the non-working fountain on Parliament Street. The consultation responses demonstrate that many of the residents who responded were exasperated at the idea of spending yet more money on ‘public realm improvements’, as they’re often called.


There was supposed to be a follow-up on the Exhibition Square proposals but I can’t find any record of it being discussed at later meetings. The fact that the Etty statue has been cleaned and left where it is suggests perhaps that he is staying where he is, in response to the fact that the majority of those who took part in the consultation wanted that.


And a majority favoured keeping the existing fountain:


The report of the consultation responses was prepared for a meeting of the council Executive on 1 July 2014: details on this link (agenda item 15). The minutes are also available, as a PDF. In the meeting ‘the Cabinet Member referred to the positive feedback in respect of the reinvigorates schemes’.

Do have a look at the PDF of the responses to the consultation and judge for yourselves how much positive feedback there was. It’s a long document, but a quick scan will no doubt provide some amusement and interest.

Perhaps now we have a new administration at City of York Council we’ll be focusing on other things rather than making Exhibition Square and other public areas a ‘world-class space’, or like Bruges or Barcelona or whatever the vision was.

Let’s make it like York, perhaps. It already is, so that’s fab, we’ve saved some money.

And funnily enough we have a new organisation called ‘Make it York’. Who appear to be a bit like Reinvigorate York? Obviously they’ll be consulting fully on proposed changes to the streetscape. Well, I do hope so – I enjoy reading what fellow residents think.


In my heroic efforts to provide you, dear readers, with empowering and enabling information on engagement and fountains and statue cleaning developments, I spend hours sitting at the computer getting aching shoulders from typing when I could be doing something else instead. If you’d like to support this work, say thank you, etc, please support this site. Thank you.

Statue, city square, Minster towers

Exhibition Square, June 2007

About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on www.yorkstories.co.uk. She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories
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