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23rd June 2008

Ripon is praised for its friendliness and its quirky, historical character by visitors and residents – but they are critical of the traffic management, difficulties with parking and the cleanliness of the streets.

The comments are the preliminary results of a survey undertaken by Ripon Civic Society to mark Civic Societies Week (21 – 29 June), which is to continue on Sunday. Civic Society Members asked passers-by what they considered to be the best three features of Ripon, what was the worst feature and what one thing should be done to improve the city.

Many people nominated the cathedral, the Market Square and the Spa Gardens as favourite features, with the riverside and canal walks also popular. The city’s location on the edge of the countryside was also praised, as were its traditions like the Hornblower and the St Wilfrid’s Procession. It is clear from the survey that residents and people who live near Ripon, as well as visitors, appreciate the special character of the city and the welcoming attitude of its people.

On the minus side, the difficulties with traffic – not just while the new West of the Market Place development is taking place, but at other times – was a particular complaint, as were parking problems. Some said that the city was not particularly pedestrian-friendly; there were calls for the Market Square to be pedestrianised. Quite a number of people questioned complained about the effects of alcohol and rowdiness in the evenings. Many of the young people questioned mentioned the lack of facilities for them.

Among the improvements wanted were better management of the traffic and the provision of more parking – perhaps linked with a park-and-ride scheme. A greater and more visible police presence was also called for. Some residents called for more equality with Harrogate in the spending of council tax.

David Winpenny, Co-Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, says, ‘These first results from our survey underline the special character of the city. Its history, its buildings, its traditions and its people are the main reasons why people enjoy visiting Ripon and they also make its citizens proud to live here. There was divided opinion about shops; younger people want more clothes stores, while the more mature want small, individual shops. We are not surprised that the perennial Ripon problems of traffic and parking were high on the list of dislikes, but we were heartened that the vast majority of the people we questioned really like the city, despite its problems.

‘When we have completed the whole survey we shall undertake a full analysis of the results and publish them on our website at www.riponcivicsociety.org.uk. The survey will help us to plan our future work in making the city and even better place for visitors and residents.’

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