An interview with the Green Party councillor for Fishergate


Cllr Andy D'Agorne discusses how the City of York Council is representing students in his role as Deputy Leader

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Image by York Green Party

By Josh Rutland

Earlier this month Nouse spoke to Andy D'Agorne, the Green Party local councillor for Fishergate and Deputy Leader of the City of York Council. Cllr D’Agorne discussed how the council is representing the interests of students, from finances to personal safety.

Cllr D’Agorne firstly outlined his role at the council, being one of two councillors for the Fishergate ward, which covers much of Fulford Road from the University of York West Campus to the River Ouse. He has been a City of York councillor since 2003 and is currently serving his fifth term, becoming Deputy Leader of the Council under the Liberal Democrats and Green Party’s 'progressive partnership' coalition, formed after the 2019 Local Election. In addition to this, he was appointed Executive Member for Transport with responsibilities including highways, cycling infrastructure, travel planning and street lighting.

I continued by asking Cllr D’Agorne how students at the University of York should engage with the work of the council and their councillors. He firstly recommended all students register to vote enabling them to take part in local and national democracy, particularly as York is due to hold Local Elections again next year. Secondly he encouraged students to watch council meetings on matters they care most about, with the option of attending in-person or watching a recording published to the council’s YouTube page. There is also a regular council newsletter with updates on local issues, as well as the opportunity for members of the public to speak to councillors through live #AskTheLeaders sessions. As a key member of the Council administration, Cllr D’Agorne stressed that he understood the issues close to the heart of the student body, including issues such as housing, waste collection and transport provision.

Given his comments on bus services, I asked Cllr D’Agorne about how the council engages with public transport providers, especially First Bus who run routes from the University of York campus to the city centre. He suggested that, while the City of York Council has a coordinating role in the provision of public transport, the first port of call ought to be the First Bus company and the University of York who can more directly assist students. He also discussed the York Bus Forum which offers a link between the residents of York, the Council’s Transport Team and local councillors to spearhead improvements in bus services.

Nouse was also keen to ask Cllr D’Agorne about support for students, financial or otherwise, with regards to the cost of living crisis. In particular, students have not been able to access the recent £150 council tax rebate because they do not pay council tax and therefore will not receive support for energy bills until the autumn. Cllr D’Agorne noted that the council are still processing rebates, with those who pay by direct debit receiving priority. He appeared tentative on any other measures however, aside from the York Energy Advice forum which incidentally most students are ineligible to use, instead suggesting students contact their MP to lobby central government for specific support.

A further concern for students is personal safety, particularly along many pedestrianised routes near the University. I asked Cllr D’Agorne whether the council has any plans to install lighting on the footpath through Walmgate Stray, given it can be an incredibly dark and uncomfortable route during the winter months. He explained that he has previously met with YUSU representatives, but highlighted the potential ecological damage caused by installing the necessary infrastructure. He said if any lighting were to be installed, it would need to be low-level. On a more positive note, he stated the decision may be reviewed in the future if pedestrian traffic increases with reference to the Frederick House development on Fulford Road, which offers new purpose-built student accommodation.

Finally I asked Cllr D’Agorne how the experiences of students were taken into account during the recent consultation into Public Space Protection Orders. He firstly defended the council’s proposal to impose two new PSPOs for Union Terrace and Clarence Street, and for the city centre area encircled by the city walls, stating that the issue of street drinking and anti-social behaviour must be addressed. He also clarified that PSPOs do not prohibit the consumption of alcohol, but Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers and the police can legally confiscate alcohol if people are causing a disturbance. He claimed the policy would have no noticeable effect on students provided they’re acting in a considerate manner, emphasising the need for unity between the student population and local residents.

Editor’s note: This interview was conducted by Gracie Daw on 1 June 2022.