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Council election manifestos compared

6. Planning and Social Care

A draft Local Plan agreed for submission in 2011 would have seen 575 homes per annum built in the City.

10 year housing completions trend in York

Labours “Big City” approach alternative was floated in 2013.  It would have seen the City grow by 25%. Many of the houses would have been built in the Green Belt, which would have been damaged irreparably. The plan never reached the public inquiry stage.

During the last three years an average of 1131 additional homes have been provided in the City each year.

This compares to an average, over the last 10 years, of 652.

The latest Local Plan – still not adopted – envisages 790 homes a year being provided. This is still much higher than ONS projects say is necessary and would require a sustained growth in jobs, the scale of which has not been not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Labours manifesto still advocates building in the Green Belt.

The number of York residents supported at home through care package is around 1800. About 650 residents are admitted to nursing or residential care each year. The figures are stable

Over the last 18 months the numbers of delayed discharges from hospital resulting from unavailable “care in the community” facilities has fluctuated between 4 and 11 patients.

There have been delays in the Councils elderly persons new accommodation strategy. Although some homes have closed, there has been little progress “on site” in building new facilities at Oakhaven, Lowfield, Haxby etc.

York Council election manifestos compared

5. Leisure

York’s cultural attractions have strengthened in recent years. The Art Gallery/Museums Trust is putting on a wide range of events while the Libraries management team have recently been awarded a 15 year extension to their contract. York has a strong theatre presence and attracted the new Shakespeare outdoor venue last year

Things are less promising for informal sport and open space provision. Playing fields in west York are being built on. Outdoor games areas are being closed and bowling greens lost.

All parties are promising to plant more trees, although none yet recognise that more needs to be invested in maintaining existing tree stocks.

Rather belatedly, the adverse impact of the cuts made to youth provision 7 years ago, are being recognised. All parties promise to do more to entertain teenagers.

The LibDems and Greens commit to a rolling programme of play equipment renewal.

North Yorkshire Police launch PCSO recruitment campaign

Today marks the start of North Yorkshire Police’s major new recruitment campaign to bring more than 50 Police Community Support Officers into the Force over the next 12 months.

North Yorkshire Police launches PCSO recruitment campaign

The campaign is part of a wider recruitment plan to boost the number of frontline police working across North Yorkshire’s communities

Police Community Support Officers (or PCSOs) are paid employees who work alongside warranted Police Officers to keep communities safe.  They take part in neighbourhood patrols, help to tackle anti-social behaviour, provide crime prevention advice and support investigations.  Whilst many people choose to be a PCSO as a permanent career role, others use the position to gain experience before applying to become a warranted Officer.

Speaking about the recruitment campaign, Phil Cain, Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police said:

“PCSOs are a really important part of the policing family because they have a very direct link with communities, and help to solve the problems that can affect peoples’ quality of life.

“The increase in the Precept has meant we can boost the number of PCSOs we have in our Force by 20, which is really positive, and will make a significant different to communities.  But added to that we also need to recruit to fill vacancies that have arisen from people retiring or moving into warranted Officer roles.

“Our aim is to recruit 50 PCSOs this year in three intakes.  Today’s campaign is the start of that process.”

Based around the qualities required to succeed in the PCSO role – including communication, people skills, level-headedness, problem-solving and team-work – the campaign encourages people with these abilities to “be a PCSO”.  As well as general publicity, North Yorkshire Police will be holding some special workshops aimed at encouraging people from under-represented groups, such as black and minority ethnic communities, to make an application.

Said DCC Phil Cain:

“We made great progress last year in attracting candidates from a diverse communities into the Force, and we’re continuing to focus on that again this year.  We want our workforce to be representative of the wider demographics in North Yorkshire as a whole, and we’ll be running our Positive Action activities alongside this PCSO recruitment campaign to support that.”

Anyone interested in joining North Yorkshire Police as a PCSO can visit:  www.northyorkshire.police.uk/pcso for information on the role and how to apply.

York council election manifestos compared

4. Housing and Health

There has been a small reduction in the Council housing stock in recent years. This is the resulted from the central government policy which saw discounts increased for “Right to Buy”.

In response the Council has started to build new Council houses and has announced ambitious – by recent standards – plans to build over 600 additional homes. It has also started to buy homes on the open market to add to the rented housing pool.

On homelessness, hyperbole rules in the manifestos. All, of course, will end it. While the numbers on the housing waiting list has been stable, the numbers of rough sleepers has fluctuated. Labour support the Manchester/Finland model (where keys to a home are given to rough sleepers without any behaviour, substance abuse or mental health treatment conditions (That’ll go down well with the neighbours)

meanwhile the coalition is building on sub-urban playing fields and has made little attempt to find replacement open spaces, sports facilities or parks. Partly as a result of this, the City has an obesity problem. Life expectancy in some poorer wards is now relatively low.

Hopefully the new Council will realise that the is more to creating a home than simply bricks and mortar.

NB: Only 1 of the 202 Council candidates – who have declared where they live – is a Council tenant.

Council election manifestos compared

3. Environment

A rare outbreak of unanimity on the 4 parties environment policies. All promise to make York “carbon neutral” by 2030. The temptation to break ranks and go for a 2029 date must have been strong.

Most are keen on clean air zones but, like the carbon commitment, are very light on what this would actually mean for residents as they go about their daily lives. The key opportunity to declare the York Central “teardrop” site a ultra low emission zone seems to have passed all the parties by.

The LibDems seem to have ditched their commitment to the introduction of a “salvage and reuse” facility with only the Greens offering a “reuse shop”

All parties commit to fortnightly bin emptying. None are specific on how recycling rates might be increased. (Central government is mandating separate food waste collections)

Surface water drainage problems are only mentioned in passing although the Tories promise an “annual gully cleaning schedule”

New Scarborough Bridge foot/cycle path opens to the public today

Foot/cycle bridge opens today

York’s new Scarborough Bridge will open to the public today (Thursday 18 April) with work on the £4.4m scheme continuing on site for several )more weeks.

The new accessible bridge has been delivered in partnership by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through its £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to cycle and walk, City of York Council, and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER EP).

It is aimed at boosting access for people travelling by bike or on foot between the train and the city centre.

Although the bridge will be open to the public from 3pm on Thursday, work will continue to complete the new steps to the riverside paths and sections of the ramps. 

The river crossing will remain open to the public throughout these works, but with some minor width restrictions at times, as well as temporary lighting and a temporary handrail.

Improvement works include, on the southern side, a new path on the top of the embankment, which will mean people can travel directly between York Station and the new bridge, providing a traffic free scenic route to the city centre.  The new bridge will now be accessible even when the River Ouse is in flood. 

The £4.4m project has been funded by a £1.9m grant through the Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, a £1.5m Local Growth Fund secured by YNYER EP and £1m of City of York Council funds. 

Scarborough Bridge has been closed to the public since the end of January to allow for ongoing construction works, including the old footbridge being lifted out by rail crane to make way for the new, wider and more accessible shared use bridge. 

More than 3,000 people crossed the old footbridge daily, despite access issues and this number is expected to rise considerably one the scheme has been completed.   

At 65-metres long the new bridge is three times as wide at 3.7metres, increasing access to more people.  It had to be lifted into place in four separate parts due to its size.

The new bridge is constructed of weathering steel – the same as Gateshead’s famour statue, The Angel of the North.

The reopening of the bridge has been delayed by a month due to the need for extra piling works in the railway embankments as well as dense fog during one of the weekends a section of the new bridge was due to be lifted in.

For more information about the Scarborough Bridge scheme visit www.york.gov.uk/scarboroughbridge

Council election manifestos compared

2. Crime, economy and education

All parties are keen to drive up wage levels. None can say how a local authority might achieve this worthy aim. Labour make the bogus claim that wage rates are falling in the City (they aren’t, although overtime earnings reduced last year).

Some see the way ahead being for the Council to give a monopoly to local suppliers for goods and services. What the knock-on effect on Council Tax levels would be is anyone’s guess.

Labour want to slow the York Central project taking it out of the hands of “developers”. Quite where they would get the investment for a pure public sector approach is also anyone’s guess.

There are clear choices on a Tourism Tax. Such a Tax could not be introduced unilaterally. It would either require central government facilitation or a voluntary agreement (chickens/Christmas anyone?).

The Council has little influence these days on local schools, which are funded directly by central government and have their own independent governing arrangements. Similarly, the Council has little direct influence on policing activities. It could however be stricter with its licensing rules.

York Council election manifesto promises