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”Welcome to Yorkshire” parts company with colourful Chief Executive


Sir Gary Verity has been sacked by the Yorkshire Tourism development company “Welcome to Yorkshire”.  Sir Gary left the company on Friday citing “health” reasons.

An article in today’s Sunday Time puts more flesh on the bones of the announcement.

It includes worrying allegations of bullying and expenses irregularities.

Welcome to Yorkshire (WTY) replaced the Yorkshire Tourist Board which used to have its headquarters in York on Tadcaster Road. WTY moved out and currently lets the Tadcaster Road building to another organisation. Its registered office address is now in Leeds.

 Tourism in York is run via “Visit York” which in turn is partly funded by the “Make it York” Quango. Over £1 million a year is paid by York taxpayers to that organisation. It is not however directly linked with WTY.

York does get some benefits from WTY publicity. A local race meeting has been sponsored and some advertising has taken place at the railway station.

Welcome to Yorkshire receives grants from both central and local government. Its Board includes four Councillors (3 Tory and 1 Labour). They are Carl Les (North Yorkshire), Richard Cooper (Harrogate), Stephen Parnaby (East Yorkshire) and Steve Brady (Hull)

Other Board members mainly have business backgrounds. The Chair is Ron McMillan who was formerly with Price Waterhouse.

Two other Directors left the company in March

WTY is a private company limited by guarantee. Its detailed expenditure – and income – is largely opaque. However, it is most widely known for sponsorship of sporting events. These include cycle races. cricket and horse racing.  The level of hospitality associated with these events is likely to be the subject of conjecture over the next few days.

WTY had a turnover of just over £4 million in the year to March 2018 (the last figures available).

About half this went on the cost of employing 46 staff. One Director – understood to be Sir Gary – received £243,453 .

WTY reported a profit of £251,173 in the year.

As a private company Welcome to Yorkshire is not subject to Freedom of Information legislation.

However with a significant part of its income coming from taxpayers, many will feel that more transparency is required in its dealings.

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward. 

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference 

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107 Askham Lane York YO24 3HD

Erection of single storey extension extensing 5.08 metres beyond rear wall of the original house, with a height to the eaves of 2.29 metres and a total height of 3.2 metres

Ref. No: 19/00508/LHE 

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50 Bramham Avenue York YO26 5DE

Change of use from a C3 dwellinghouse to a C4 HMO. 

Ref. No: 19/00353/FUL 

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Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Work starts in Clifton to create 33 new homes for older people

A new phase of the council’s Older Person’s Accommodation Programme is starting, with work beginning to deliver 33 new homes in Clifton.

The four new bungalows and 29 apartments will add to Marjorie Waite Court. This is a 40-unit, council-run independent living scheme with extra care offered at the heart of the community. This extension is due to open in winter 2020 along with a new community hall.

Residents of York have an above-UK-average life expectancy, with the number of 75+ residents expected to increase by 50% by 2030 (up from 17,000 to 26,000). This extra accommodation goes towards providing a sufficient variety of options for this growing population. It is also part of the council’s wider programme which aims to deliver over 900 extra new units of accommodation with care for older people by 2020 and will see over £100m new investment to deliver it.

Marjorie Waite Court’s 29 new apartments will be wheelchair-accessible and residents will benefit from extra care services. This includes providing 24-hour care for residents and those living with dementia.

The four bungalows will be built with their own parking space. Like the apartments, they will be wheelchair-accessible and be connected to a warden call system.

The residents of these new and existing apartments will be able to use refurbished and extended communal facilities. These will include a dining facility, a laundry, lounges on all floors with balconies, a hair salon and treatment room, and extra offices to deliver a wider range of services. While to support residents’ mobility an electric buggy store and charging area will be built.

Local community groups can also, through a booking scheme, use the new community hall which will provide space for community and leisure activities.

York apprenticeship recruitment event attendance at an all-time high

Hundreds of young people and parents attended the York apprenticeship recruitment event on March 6 2019, organised by City of York Council and the Apprenticeship Hub.

More than 400 people came to the event which showcased over 100 apprenticeship vacancies across the city, in addition to the 30 employers and training providers who were on hand to offer advice to young people aged 16 to 24.

Recruiting employers included City of York Council, Nestlé, LNER, Fera Science Ltd, Buckingham Group, Garbutt & Elliott, Army Careers and many more, with vacancies in business and finance, construction, retail, hospitality, digital & IT, engineering, law & childcare.

For more information on apprenticeships, whether you are an employer or a young person, visit www.york.gov.uk/yorkapprenticeships or contact york.apprenticeships@york.gov.uk

Further road closures as work continues on Stonebow, Fossgate and Pavement

As work nears an end on Stonebow, Pavement and Fossgate residents are being reminded of overnight road closures needed to finalise the project.

These include full overnight closures (Monday to Friday 8.30pm to 5am only) on:

  • Pavement – between 25 March and 5 April
  • Fossgate – between 25 March and 12 April and,
  • Stonebow (closed in Pavement direction) between 1 and 5 April

In addition, between 25 to 29 March (over-night only) traffic will flow in the opposite direction on Colliergate so that work can be completed at the junction of Whipmawhopmagate. This may impact people driving in the city, particularly taxi drivers.

It is anticipated that the day time closures of Stonebow, Pavement and Fossgate will be completed on time by 29 March.

The road works are part of a £1.1million investment by the City of York Council to make major improvements to Stonebow, Fossgate and Pavement in York’s city centre. The works will improve the street’s appearance and character, create a more pedestrian-friendly environment and improve access for pedestrians and cyclists, which will attract more visitors to the area.

Tony Clarke, Head of Transport at City of York Council said, “We are nearing the end of a 14 week programme of improvements in the area. These closures have always been in the plans to finalise the work but hopefully taking place overnight will cause the minimum upheaval and disturbance possible.

“We know that the closures have caused delays and disruption for some and we would like to thank residents, businesses and commuters for their patience and assure everyone that we are working hard to have all routes fully reopened by 12 April.”

New Homeshare service bringing younger and older people together for mutual benefit

An innovative new service that matches older homeowners with younger people in a home-sharing arrangement is coming to York.

Homeshare York is based on a national model, where a younger person provides 10 hours of support a week to an older householder in exchange for a room in their home. Homesharers could help with practical tasks, such as cleaning, shopping or cooking, as well as provide companionship and a reassuring overnight presence.

Homeshare is all about mutual benefit. The service enables older people to continue living independently with the support and companionship of a sharer. It also provides young professionals, or mature and postgraduate students struggling with rental costs, affordable accommodation in the city.

Similar services around the UK and internationally report significant benefits linked with intergenerational friendships arising from Homeshare matches. Participants have felt less isolated, experienced an increased sense of wellbeing and shared learning, too.

Homeshare York is a not-for-profit service with a monthly contribution made by the householder and homesharer to cover the cost of the matching process and ongoing support.

It offers a viable, cost-saving option for younger and older members of the community as the fees are considerably less than the equivalent cost of support (for the householder) or rental costs (for the homesharer).

To find out more or to see if you, or someone you know, could be eligible please visitwww.york.gov.uk/HomeshareYork or email homeshareyork@york.gov.uk

Popular falls prevention service moves into Holgate on its second anniversary

A project to help prevent people falling in their own homes is expanding into a fifth ward in the city, in its second year of operation.

Having started in Clifton ward in March 2017 as part of the council’s YorWellbeing Services, work to prevent falls in homes extended to Guildhall ward, then to Micklegate and Fishergate wards. Now it’s rolled out into Holgate. 

These wards were identified by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) as having homes with higher trip risks than the city average. These include hazards such as missing stair rails, uneven flooring or poor internal lighting, especially for children aged under five and older people.

The partnership of housing, health and safety experts including North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Age UK York carry out free home visits to check and repair simple trip hazards in homes whether rented or privately owned.

Visits are arranged and carried out with a falls prevention practitioner and a joiner. They offer practical advice specific to the resident and their home and can make simple improvements there and then such as fitting a grab rail or banister rail, fitting brighter light bulbs, securing loose carpets or suggesting exercises to help improve residents’ strength and balance. They will also signpost residents to other relevant services.

Since its launch two years ago, the team has put thousands of fall prevention measures in place. These include fitting 733 grab rails, 277 banisters, 391 brighter light bulbs, 13 window restrictors, 11 carpet trims and four drop down toilet rails. 

Residents of Clifton, Guildhall, Micklegate, Fishergate and Holgate can request a free home visit for advice and help on preventing falls, please call 01904 567456 or emailreducingfalls@york.gov.uk

To find out more about the service and pick up some advice on reducing the risk of falls, please visit www.york.gov.uk/reducingfalls

Lowfields problems continue

No response yet from the site liaison officer following residents’ concerns about delivery arrangements at the Lowfields development site.  Concerns about the impact that the large spoil mountains are having on the local environment have also still to be addressed.
Spoil mountains growing at Lowfields

At a planning committee meeting earlier in the week some progress was made on the plans to create 5 new parking spaces on Tudor Road.

The Lowfields Action Group Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/ reports that officials have confirmed that the contractor responsible for building the new access road will also construct the parking spaces as part of the same contract. Although they said that the work would be done “at the same time” no planning condition was included requiring the 3 new “on street” parking spaces to be constructed before the existing ones are lost.

The Council as both the owner and developer of the site could have offered a unilateral agreement on this but failed to do so.

Cllr Andrew Waller was the only Westfield ward representative to speak up on behalf of residents. He said that the parking spaces to the rear of 108 Tudor Road were too close to the property. He also asked that improvements be made at the Tudor Road /Gale Lane junction.

The discussion about the Yorspace development was a disappointing.  Councillors completely failed to challenge the claim that the proposed homes will be “affordable”. The developer claims they will be “affordable” The Councils own housing officer has confirmed that they will not.

This contradiction remains unexplained.

A Freedom of Information request on a related issue is still outstanding. A response is due on Monday,

No convincing answers given on car parking arrangements. The 12 spaces will not be adequate to cater for the needs of all occupiers and visitors. Overflow parking will therefore further compromise space on Tudor Road, Green Lane and Kingsthorpe. The developers say that occupiers of the building “will not be allowed to own a car” and that all vehicles using the provided spaces will be “communally owned”.

We doubt very much whether they will be able to enforce such a rule.

The only good thing to come out of the debate was an offer from the developer to look again at boundary treatments. They seem to be backing away for the idea of removing the railings. The railings offer good security while permitting the movement of small mammals like hedgehogs.

Road and footpath resurfacing in York

The York Councils maintenance programme for the forthcoming year has been published. Expenditure of over £9 million has been identified although a lot of this will go on addressing surface water drainage problems. The schedule includes £700,000 for gulley repairs
surface water

The programme also includes investment of over £600,000 to maintain the City Walls, with the focus being on the Bootham section.

One of the most expensive single schemes will see Stonegate repaved at a cost of £500,000.

On the west of the City the carriageways on both Gale Lane and Tadcaster Road will be resurfaced. Cycle routes will get a £250,000 maintenance boost.

However, the funds allocated for footpath repairs is disappointingly low.  The identified major footpath resurfacing schemes are all on the east of the City.

It must leave residents living in streets like Walton Place wondering just how bad a footpath must be before being repaired.

Walton Place

Predictably last night the York Council woke up to the major backlog in highway repairs that has developed in the city during the last decade. Cynics may say that Labour and the LibDems vying to be the voice of the road user has something to do with the imminent Council elections which take place in early May.

However, successive residents’ surveys have confirmed that poor highway maintenance is now the biggest concern that residents have.

It will take a major and sustained boost in funding if the roads and paths in the City  are to be returned to a safe condition.