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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

How do the party election manifestos compare in York?

  1. Financial management

Now that all the parties have published their election manifestos for the Council polls – due on 2nd May – we’ll be looking to see what each party is offering.

Usually it is not so much what the party leaders say they will do that attracts interest.Rather it is the issues that they are silent on which cause the most anxiety.

There is a certain lack of candour on financial strategy in all four documents.

Residents urged to plan ahead for Tour de Yorkshire

The Tour de Yorkshire will once again return to the regions roads from 2-5 May.

The first stage, taking riders on a fast and flat route from Doncaster to Selby passes through several villages on the outskirts of York, including Elvington, Wheldrake and Escrick in the late afternoon on Thursday 2 May.

The A19 near Escrick will be closed to traffic when the race passes through the area.No parking will be permitted on the race route during the race period. Details of the route are available on the Tour de Yorkshire website at https://letour.yorkshire.com/tour-de-yorkshire-2019/

To ensure the safety of spectators and riders alike there will be a rolling road closure for most of the race route, this will be managed by the police. This means that the traffic will be stopped at any given point between 10 and 30 minutes ahead of the first cyclist.

When the race, and all the official and team vehicles, have passed the roads will reopen again. The last vehicle in the race group is a lorry with screens on both sides telling people watching that the roads are open again.

Typically the closure is in place for between 20 and 50 minutes depending on the severity of the stage, how far into the stage the race is and the weather.

It’s expected that the race will reach Elvington at approximately 4.46pm, Wheldrake at 4.53pm and Escrick at 5pm. The route joins the A19 at Escrick and turns off again to Stillingfleet. This will mean that the A19 will be closed whilst the race passes through the area affecting travellers.

Bus routes 18, 36, X36, 42, 45, 46, X46 and 415 will all continue to operate, but will be delayed as a result of the race. It is anticipated that the closures and additional race traffic will cause delays in the area. Motorists are advised to plan their journeys to avoid the route during the race period if possible.

For more information visit www.itravelyork.info/buses/bus-routes-and-journey-times/diversion-information

Pedestrian access will be available to polling stations throughout the period. Voters in the wards affected have been notified of the access restrictions.