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Brush up your Urban Cycle Skills

York residents of all ages and levels of ability are being invited to brush up their cycling skills by booking a subsidised training session from as little as £5 for 90 minutes.

Urban Cycle Skills is a programme of bespoke cycling tuition suitable for everyone from experienced cyclists to those who haven’t ridden a bike for more than 30 years.

Tailored to the level of ability and requirements of the individuals taking part in each session, the cycling tuition is provided by instructors trained to a nationally-recognised standard.

Urban Cycle Skills sessions typically cost £32.00 for 60 minutes or £48.00 for 90 minutes, but City of York Council is offering them at the subsidised rate of just £5 for a 90-minute, one-to-one session for a single adult. Family sessions are available from £5 for an adult and up to two children (aged eight years and above), or £10 for two adults and two children (aged eight years and above).

For more information or to book a place, visit www.itravelyork.info/cycling/cycle-training.

Scarborough Bridge work set to start next week but maybe a missed opportunity

Work is set to start on-site at Scarborough Bridge on Monday 29 October to create a new shared use pedestrian and cycle bridge.

The new bridge will provide a better traffic free route for residents and visitors travelling between the railway station and city centre.

Unfortunately it will do little to assist cyclists wishing to access the new York central development. They will continue to face a ride through the unremittingly oppressive Marble Arch tunnel.

The new bridge will have ramps at either side making it accessible for a range of users, including cyclists, wheelchair users and people pushing prams. It will also be nearly three times as wide to ensure there is sufficient space for everyone.

Preperation works will start on-site at the end of October with the construction of the ramps and steps likely to be finished in the new year. The existing footbridge will be closed from late January when it will be removed and the new bridge will be put in place.

The new bridge will be in place and open to the public in March, weather dependant.

 

Freedom of Information: some excellent responses but others evasive

Let’s start with an example of good practice.

The York Council was asked, via the “What do they know” web site, for information on the numbers of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued for Fly tipping, Fly posting and graffiti.  Similar information for other offences was already posted by the Authority on its open data website.

A response was provided within a few days with the Council agreeing to add information for fly tipping and flyposting to the Open Data website. This means that information will be updated regularly. The question about flyposting was prompted by an epidemic of “Fair” posters which appeared on the west of the City.

We look forward to the open data website being updated shortly

The York Council says that it does not hold statistics on the number of prosecutions for graffiti which have been undertaken. It points to the police as a potential source of information claiming that the force could extract graffiti cases from the more general “criminal damage” heading.

We have had less luck with North Yorkshire Police.

We have been attempting for over a year now to get speed and casualty information from them in an attempt to understand how it drives the deployment of their speed camera vans.

We wanted to see trend information for sites regularly monitored by the vans. We expected that management information would demonstrate that the mean/average speeds recorded showed a downward trend, that the number of vehicles exceeding the prevailing limit would be falling and that accident levels on the monitored roads would also be showing a downward trend.

The most recent report from the police indicates that they don’t hold any of this information nor have they tried to correlate the stats provided by NYFR when they deploy their speed monitoring equipment on road around the county.

We find it astonishing that objective results figures of this sort are not being regularly monitored by those managing the, very expensive, camera van programme.

Nor can the York Council bask in any glory. In February, we asked which businesses had not paid their NNDR (Rates) bills in each of the last 3 years.

The request was turned down on the, entirely specious, grounds that it might influence the result of a by election which was taking place last February. Eventually the Information Commissioner ruled that the information had to be released and it duly was on 26th September.

It revealed that the Council were chasing £576,803.04 in arrears that had accumulated over the last 3 years.

The response did not reveal the names of the businesses involved.

We asked for that information on 1st October but, as yet, we have had no reply.

Waiting times go from nine weeks to one as new social care approach develops in York

The council’s new approach to adult social care has been given unanimous approval by customers, as the next Talking Point opens on Thursday 25 October at York Explore.

Residents needing support and help can visit social care staff at the library between 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm every Thursday, for both drop-in support and pre-booked appointments.

The service gives residents earlier access to face-to-face conversations with adult social care staff, closer to where they live at Talking Points. These conversations help identify issues allowing staff to refer residents to a wide variety of appropriate support, from physiotherapists to opticians, to local activities and resources.

This quicker, tailored and highly effective access to information, advice and support started at Talking Points which opened at Lidgett Grove Methodist Church in March 2018 and continued with the opening of a Talking Point at Oaken Grove, Haxby in July this year.

Feedback from people using this informal but informative option at Lidgett Grove and Oaken Grove have so far expressed over 95% satisfaction with the outcome of their conversations and actions taken. All service users saying they would recommend Talking Points.

Since March this year, the impact of the first Talking Point at Lidgett Grove has included:

  • Slashing waiting times for a full social care assessment, from an average nine weeks to less than a week. This is the time between an initial meeting and then discussing support needs in detail and putting support in place at a hub
  • Over 95% of people invited to the hub have said they were satisfied with the experience and, most importantly, the actions and outcome of their conversation at Talking Point
  • More than half of the people who, under the old system would usually have opted for a full social care assessment, felt the support they were offered met their needs and so declined the full assessment
  • The number of people needing paid-for social care services has fallen from 65%, to 43%.

New to the York Explore Talking Point are drop-in sessions as well as pre-booked appointments.

Further Talking Points will continue to open across the city as the programme develops.

Barbara Swinn, York Explore manager, said: “After the terrific start of Talking Point in Acomb and Haxby we’re looking forward to welcoming residents of all ages so they can chat with Talking Point staff about how together, we and they and the community, can bring about improvements to their lives and how they want to live it.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care said: “This third Talking Point in the centre of York serves people who find it easier to come and see us in town, and is the latest in a series which we plan to open across the city. I’m delighted to hear about the positive impact our other Talking Points are having on people’s lives.

“Our experience in York so far, is in line with the better experiences and outcomes for residents reported in other cities using this approach. It makes it easier for residents to access and source effective early intervention and support.”

What’s on in York: Finding the Words with poets Sarah L Dixon, Ian Harrow and Tristan Moss

Oct _25Find The Words

York Explore Library :

Thu 25 Oct :

6.45pm – 7.45pm :

£3 (or £2 with a York Card)

Finding the Words is a regular poetry evening every month at York Explore Library. Each evening brings together three poets and we aim to include both published writers and those working towards a collection. We’ll have a bar available and readings last around an hour. The evening is also a chance to share and chat, so please feel free to bring any news or information about poetry local, regional or national.

Sarah L Dixon lived in Chorlton for 12 years. She moved in May 2017 and is currently based in Linthwaite, Huddersfield and tours as The Quiet Compere. Sarah has most recently been published in Confluence, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake, Obsessed with Pipework, Troubadour and Curlew. She had a poem published on a beer-mat and her pamphlet, The sky is cracked was released by the same press in November 2017 (Half Moon).

Sarah’s inspiration comes from many places, including pubs and music, being by and in water and adventures with her seven-year-old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4! Frank’s line, aged 4, was “Is your heart in a cage so it doesn’t fly away?”

Ian Harrow: b.1945 Bamburgh, Northumberland. Five collections, most recent, Finishing Lines (Rack Press 2018) and Words Take Me (Lapwing 2013). Formerly Head of the School of Art, University of Central Lancashire. Lives in York.
Widely published in journals and magazines, including Stand, London Magazine, Spectator, Times Literary Supplement, New Walk.

Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has had poems published in a number of online and paper journals. Most recently his poems have appeared in The Poetry Shed, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Open Mouse, and Picaroon Poetry. In 2012 he had a short pamphlet published entitled ‘Disclaimer, by Lapwing Publications.

Sarah L Dixon @QuietCompereMcr
Tristan Moss @TristannMoss

This event will take place in the Marriott Room and cost £3 (or £2 with a York Card)

To book a ticket please click here.

York Council HQ scandal

Abandoned York Guildhall dirty and overrun with weeds.

The York Guildhall, a Listed building, is rapidly falling into disrepair. The Council – although still the owners of the building – quit the site in 2013, when they moved to new accommodation at West Offices.

Since then the Guildhall has mostly been unoccupied and was finally abandoned in 2017.

The Council had hoped to turn the building into a “business centre” but outside investment proved to be Impossible to attract. A prospective builder was dropped from the development amidst problems with escalating costs. The last estimates were that the project would cost around £15 – £17 million with all the risk falling on taxpayers.

Council leaders, when meeting in May, promised that a revised business case would be published. They confirmed that the Council would run any business centre complex themselves.

Whether there is a need for a business club is open to question. Traditionally traders in York have themselves formed organisations (guilds) to provide what today would be known as networking opportunities. Hence, we have privately funded meeting  halls belonging to the Merchant Taylors and Merchant Adventures while Bedern provides a home for other guilds.

There are more obviously suitable properties available to satisfy business needs.

Stonebow House has announced a business hub while one of the augments put forward for the “Spark” development was that they would satisfy the needs of small businesses.

Even if there is still unmet demand, then there is more obviously flexible accommodation available on Coney Street.

Despite calls for the Council, to explore other less risky options, they said they would press ahead and try to find another builder. Many thought that the Council should have tested the market to see whether private investment could be attracted.

The Council is running out of time. A report in May said that essential repair works to the old building would cost at least £5 million.

With further deterioration now obvious from even a casual inspection, that figure will soon start to climb again.

There is no sign of a new business plan being produced before the end of February. There is no item covering the Guildhall in the Councils 4 month forward plan.

This reinforces views that the project will be “kicked into the long grass” until after the local elections which are scheduled for May.

The coalition Leaders must be beginning to worry that the Guildhall project will turn into their version of the Lendal Bridge folly.

Trees and bushes growing on parapets

Guildhall windows caked with dirt

Stonework stained

Riverbank opposite Guildhall overgrown with weeds

Rust stains on Lendal Bridge

Attempts to attract new businesses to Coney Street but what an image!

What’s on in York: A story evening | daCunha

Oct _23Story

York Explore Library :

Tue 23 Oct :

6.30pm – 7.45pm :

Free

daCunha is excited to share a live version of their ‘Campfire with Friends’ experience, where you and a small group of your friends enjoy professionally acted versions of our exclusive stories. This is a chance to immerse yourself in storyful performances by nationally recognised York actors Thomas Frere and Kate Hampson.

daCunha publishes an evergreen collection of beautifully crafted fiction and creative nonfiction. Our small, international team of editors curate and edit with care to create an immersive experience. Don’t miss your chance to try daCunha for free during York Library’s Big City Read event.

To book tickets please click here.

Wintertime adult social care boost

City of York Council has been allocated £731,000 by the Government to support adult social care needs this winter

The funding is targeted at people who don’t need to be in hospital but who do need care. It will support people as they return home whilst freeing up more hospital beds, including getting people safely back home from hospital at the weekends.

While the detailed grant conditions have not yet been shared, we will be working closely with our NHS partners to target the money towards initiatives which will make the biggest difference to the city’s more vulnerable residents and to the whole system.

£23,620 being written off in York for 4 Council tenant arrears

The York Councils Executive member with responsible for housing is being asked to write off the bad debts of 4 former Council tenants.

The amount involved is nearly £6000 each.

With average Council house rents around £300 a month, it means that these former tenants didn’t pay any rent for around 18 months.

They are unlikely to have been housing benefit cases as the rent payable in those cases is usually minimal.

The tenants apparently absconded between 2 and 5 years ago.

The identities of the tenants involved are not being disclosed. In the past “naming names” has sometimes allowed the Council to trace those who have absconded. It is not clear why the Council has changed its policy and granted anonymity in these cases.

The Council says that if it does trace the individuals concerned they will still be required to pay what they owe.