Delay over Community Centre funding plans

One of the key policies of the new coalition Council was the restoration of grants to Council owned Community Centres.
Foxwood Community Centre

Foxwood Community Centre

The centres (Foxwood, Chapelfields, Bell Farm, Heworth and Burton Stone/Clifton) lost their grants under the last Labour administration and there were fears that some would close.

In July the new Council identified £70,000 to help underpin the centres. The voluntary groups currently running the centres have managed to kept them open until now.

The Council had been expected to allocate the total budget to individual centres on 14th September but unexplained delays have dogged the process since then.

Now it appears that the Councils Environment Executive member (Andrew Waller) has been debarred from making the decision which had been scheduled to be taken in November.

Instead Deputy Council Leader Keith Aspden will agree the allocations on 3rd December.

The is still hoped is that enough money will be made available to allow a part time caretaker to be appointed at both the Foxwood and Chapelfields centres.

Contractor for historic Mansion House project announced

York based contractors, William Anelay, have been appointed to work on York Mansion House’s historic restoration project.

Mansion House ChristmasYork based contractors, William Anelay, have been appointed to work on York Mansion House’s historic restoration project.

Work will begin in the New Year to restore the building, including improvements to facilities which will allow visitors to enjoy more of the building than ever before.

The appointment comes after the Mansion House received a grant of £1,198,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), as well as funding from City of York Council and donations to the restoration fund so the historic building can be restored. Thanks to the National Lottery players the project – ‘Opening Doors’ – will be the biggest investment in the Mansion House since it was built in the eighteenth century.

The four main areas of the ‘Opening Doors’ restoration project are:
•  Restoring the original kitchens to create a fully working eighteenth century kitchen and a modern kitchen allowing the house to continue hosting culinary events and functions.

•  Improving displays, conservation and access to the civic collection of gold and silverware

•  Developing an integrated environmental and conservation plan for the structure, including installing an effective conservation heating system to minimise long-term damage to the contents and fabric of the building and reduce its carbon foot print.

•  Preparing an oral history project, involving people past and present with a connection to the building.

More Councils signing up to “Fix My Street” and What do they Know”

The Harrogate Council has become the latest to purchase the class leading software which gives local residents access to vital Freedom of Information files as well as an easy, and monitored way, of reporting issues.

Their approach contrasts with the attitude of the York Council which persists with an “on line” issue reporting system which is just not “fit for purpose”

York should cut its losses and follow Harrogate’s lead.

Details here

Fix My Street

What Do They Know

Meanwhile the York Council’s proposals reqarding the future of its “on line” reporting systems have been removed from its “Forward Programme“.

Instead, the controversial new system is due to be debated under a generic “Cleaner City” report in the New Year. The latter report has also been delayed by 2 months but is currently due to be considered on 25th January.

York Council “free” newspaper has cost nearly £40,000 so far this year

The “Our City” newspaper, published by the York Council, has racked up a bill of nearly £40,000 so far since July.

Our City front page Nov 2015The total of £38,624 covers four editions the last of which will be delivered in January. All households are supposed to have a copy delivered free of charge.

Not all of the costs will fall on York Council taxpayers. Contributions have also been made by “partner” agencies such as the Police (although it is mostly public money in the end).

The newspaper content and design has been criticised for being “dull”. Copies can be downloaded from the Council’s web site (click)

In October copies of the newspaper were dumped in the communal areas of flats and clearly never reached the intended readers.

The suppliers includes Newsquest (publishers of The Press) who design and print the newspaper while the “Local Link” free advertising magazine undertakes delivery.

The editorial content is written “in house”.

The Council has failed to include the “cost per household” figure on recent editions (it works out at about 12p per taxpayer for each edition) as was agreed would be provided, on all Council literature, more than a decade ago.

While normally £40,000 might be regarded as a small bill for the (worthy) objective of keeping residents informed, the expenditure comes against a background of cheeseparing cuts to basic public services such as street cleansing and weed control.

The new Council didn’t openly debate its policy on public communications when it took office in May, so we do not know what relative priority it gives to the burgeoning use of social media – which provides up to date news each day – nor the plans to re-introduce a, more locally focused, “Ward Committee” newsletter.

To their credit many Councillors do produce their own newsletters – the LibDem version is Focus – which are published and delivered without any cost to taxpayers.

Our City costs


Doherty Walk parking area gets “go ahead”

Matrix surface protection planned for this grassed area

Matrix surface protection planned for this grassed area

The badly damaged grassed area in Doherty Walk – which is used for car parking – will have matrix protection installed.

The move has been confirmed by the Council following strong representations from the local residents association. The proposal was also backed by Cllr Sheena Jackson and the housing departments local estate manager.

It has taken several months to secure funding for the £16,000 improvement, work on which is expected to start in the spring.

Matrix surface protection has been used extensively elsewhere in the Westfield Ward.. It has proved to be popular in locations such as St Stephens Square and Windsor Garth.

The process involves installing a plastic matrix on an area and allowing grass to grow through. It has the advantage that it continues to look like a natural grassed area, allowing safe recreational use. It continues to be mowed in the same way and water drains naturally reducing the risk of flooding. Vehicles can drive over the matrix surface without damaging the grass.

The Council is under pressure to provide similar improvements at other locations on the west of the City.

While the Doherty Walk changes are manly being funded from the housing account (rent payments), other areas may benefit from the recently revived “Ward Committee” funding pot.


York police make report speeding concerns easier

You can put forward your concerns about speeding in your local area through the speed management protocol.
PC Andy Collinson, local Safer Neighbourhood Officer, showing a pupil from Colburn how to use the speed gun

York Police have issued the following advice,

“Please first consult the ’95 Alive’ Partnership pdf icon Speed Management Protocol [999kb] for York and North Yorkshire, which will provide you with all the information you need before you make a complaint about speeding in your community, or whether your complaint is better addressed somewhere else.

You can complete the online Speed Concern Report form, completing ALL required details.

Alternatively, you can download and print the word icon Speed Report Form [819kb].

Please provide a suitable email address – we will communicate with you by email when such an address is provided.

If you are aware of a road in York or North Yorkshire which you feel is hazardous (for example, you’ve had a near miss and you feel that the conditions of the road were a factor), you can report it via the Roadwise website“.