What’s on in York: New Year men’s health course

Men looking to start the New Year by getting fit are being invited to join York’s latest men’s health course starting on Wednesday 17 January.

The course follows the inaugural men’s health course in September which had fantastic results. Eleven men had measurements taken at the start and end of the ten week course with a combined weight loss of 20.7kg, with two men losing 3.8kg and 3.6kg. The combined total waist circumference loss was 40.5cm with two men losing 7cm and 6cm from their waistline.

The ten week course, which is led by the council’s YorWellbeing service in partnership with York City Knights, will take place at York St John University sports park and will again see attendees take part in a series of physical activity sessions combined with educational workshops on modifiable lifestyle factors.

Starting at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 January, the programme offers 90 minutes sessions designed to help individuals to become more aware of ways in which they can live happier and healthier lives.

The idea for this programme came from York City Knights fans and each session will be made up of a 45 minute educational workshop and a 45 minute physical activity session with access to the strength and conditioning suite used by the York City Knights first team.

The programme will run every Wednesday evening from 7.30pm until 9pm, from Wednesday 17 January up until Wednesday 21 March, aiming to engage with those individuals wanting to become more physically active and improve their health. The cost of the programme is £30 for the full 10 week course but people are urged to book in advance as spaces are limited.

The physical activity sessions will be tailored so they are appropriate to the requirements of the participants and the course is open to people of all ages and abilities.

Educational workshop topics will include:

  •     Incorporating physical activity into your daily lifestyle
  •     Meal planning and healthy diet choices
  •     Negative effects of smoking and alcohol on the body
  •     Promoting positive mental wellbeing.

Councillor Ann Reid, interim executive member for leisure, culture and tourism said: “It is fantastic to see the men’s health course return after the success of the first course.

“This is a great opportunity for men to take part in a range of physical activities at top class facilities used by York City Knights players and get useful lifestyle advice from our YorWellbeing team. Places are limited so I would advise booking in advance.”

Neil Gulliver, Foundation Manager at York City Knights, said: ‘The first men’s health pilot was a resounding success and it was great to see such a range of ages and experiences all come together to improve their health. Both the Knights and the Foundation have the community at the centre of everything we do and we are proud to help more men lead healthier, happier lives.’

To book a place email yorwellbeing@york.gov.uk or call 01904 553377.

A video from the first men’s health course is available to view at https://youtu.be/nk65dJmDl7Q

That was the year that was: Jan 2017 – Mar 2017

The year began with mixed news about the city centre economy. Visitor numbers were beginning to increase and would be sustained for most of the rest of the year. However, empty shops continued to blight key roads like Coney Street. 12 months later that problem remains.

The NHS continued to be a major concern during 2017. There were early problems when the number of delayed discharges remained stubbornly high. A & E waiting times were also a problem

The community Stadium would also be a recurring issue during the year. After several false dawns, a nominal start was made “on site” in December.

The cost to taxpayers remains high and there are continuing concerns about the viability of parts of the £44 million project.

It will be summer 2019 before it becomes clearer what the final costs will be and, critically, whether any ongoing taxpayers subsidy will be required.

The stadium itself,though, should now have a stable future with most of its cost being paid for through Section 106 monies which were  first brokered in 2010.

  As part of the stadium deal, the long term future of the Yearsley swimming pool was confirmed

Next up was a decision by the York Council to increase tax rates by 3.7%

Part of this was ring fenced to help deal with the  increased demands of an ageing population.

The Council also increased the rate at which roads and footpaths were being resurfaced – a policy which found favour with most York residents.

Rather less impressive was the Council’s performance in managing its stock of garages. An FOI in February revealed that large numbers were empty at a time when hundreds were on the waiting list for garages. 10  months later, and the list of blocks where there are vacancies has not changed. Yet there has still been little publicity aimed at securing a regular rental income.

House prices started to rise in the City. Even in the suburbs purchase of a starter home required someone to be earning over £30,000 a year

Some good news in February as work started on the Layerthorpe links road. It would open later in the year bringing relief to the Foss Islands Road and Heworth parts of the City

There was trouble on the west of the City. The Councils plans to develop the Lowfields playing field attracted major objections. As part of the project an alternative elderly persons home had been planned for the Oakhaven site on York Road. and the Council announced a contractor for the project.

The plan remains on the back burner with controversy extending to plans to relocate the Acomb Police station and demolish the adjacent Carlton Tavern.  Doubts about the future of the Tavern continue into 2018

The first in a series of revelations, about the way in which the Council appointed contractors to deliver policies, became public. It appeared that a consultant was appointed on a “results” basis contract. The result required was the delivery of the Lowfields redevelopment…. irrespective of the views of local residents.

Another long running saga started when auditors questioned the way in which the last Labour led Council had appointed consultants. Some Councillors insisted on the report being made public. This was done, but in a redacted format. Later in the year a copy was leaked to the media with the names of the people concerned included. This was to lead to a major row which even today looks like it could end the coalition agreement which has run the Council since 2015.


The Authorities neglected problems with vehicle speeds. The 20-mph speed limit project had failed with average speeds, on some roads with the new lower limit, having increased. Many flashing speed warning signs were found to be faulty. The North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner decided to double the number of speed vans on the streets of the county. It later transpired that they were deployed mainly on trunk roads where they were pretty much guaranteed to catch large numbers of speeders. In turn drivers were charged to attend “awareness” courses, the income from which was used to pay for the vans. The Police, in response to an FOI request, said that they didn’t monitor whether average speed levels at camera sites were reducing. Neither could they say whether the number of accidents on the same stretches of road had reduced. Meanwhile, in sub-urban areas the promised “reassurance” visits from the vans, never materialised. 

The Council was having a difficult time keeping its signs in working order. After 3 years, City centre “Variable Message Signs” were repaired but the car parking space availability signs are still not working despite faults being discovered in 2014. 

The Council got planning permission for its £12 million scheme to redevelop the Guildhall complex. Unfortunately it couldn’t find a commercial partner for the plan so the considerable risk for the project will fall on taxpayers. Work on the project has just started.

The Planning committee had a mixed year. It had earlier approved an ugly visitor centre at Cliffords Tower. This decision led to a judicial review with the fate of the centre still in doubt.

Nearby they gave planning permission for an Art Barge which was to be moored on the Ouse. Warnings about the wisdom of mixing alcohol and river safety were ignored. The barge was last seen moored in the Foss basin.

But perhaps the biggest planning controversy of the year concerned the shipping container village on Piccadilly.  As we will see in the next part of our review of the year, the containers arrived but the customers did not. 

In the west of the City, York High school got a poor OFSTED report. Later the head teacher was to resign and plans to turn the school into an “academy” were revealed. 

One change that did go through, with relatively few problems, were revisions to recycling collection days.

On 1st April areas which did not have wheeled bins were also added the system for the first time. 

Dramatic increase in fines issued to Coppergate drivers

There has been a  big increase in the number of Penalty Charge Notices issued to drivers breaking the access only restrictions on Coppergate.

The latest figures suggest that the York Council could receive as much as £1/2 million in fine income during a full year.

The Council originally budgeted to receive around £100,000 in fine income

The change has come since officials stopped issuing “warning letters” to first offenders.

Since these stopped in the summer, the number of notices issued has crept up to reach 801 in November the latest figure available on the Councils web site 

Coppergate before ANPR cameras were re-introduced

The main concern, when the Council chose to switch ANPR cameras back on at the beginning of the year, was reputational risk. The ill-fated spy camera trial in 2014 – which encompassed Lendal Bridge as well as Coppergate – hit visitors to the City particularly hard with many vowing never to return.

How many of the new batch of offenders is local has not been revealed although Freedom of Information requests should break though this secrecy.

It was pointed out last January, that Coppergate was deserted for most of the day and therefore the camera surveillance was unnecessary.

It seems though that the Council has discovered a major “cash cow” and now needs to maximise the fine income to balance its books.