Council net debts mount to £289 million.

The Councils net debts increased to £289 million in the year up to April 2020. 

That was an increase of £43.4 million over 12 months.

The figures are revealed in a report to a meeting taking place this week.

The Council net debts are forecast to increase to £452.4 million within the next 5 years.

This will mean that nearly 25% of Council Tax income will be spent on interest and redemption charges.

The figures don’t take into account the toll that Coronavirus has had on finances over the last 4 months.

Although interest rates are at historically low levels, the Councils income steams have been badly hit. In turn this affects the authorities ability to service its debt charges.

Projects which depend on asset sales for funding are also facing challenges. The commercial property market may be depressed for several years.

The report fails to provide an update on the assumptions made about commercial letting returns.

 As well as an expanded shops portfolio, the Council has embarked on a  series of projects, like the Community stadium and the Guildhall renovation, which depend partly on rent income from office and commercial space to pay for the investment.  

Empty offices at Monks Cross

Several Council owned offices are currently empty.

The Council, is particularly reluctant to say whether the speculative offices, which it agreed to underwrite at Monks Cross, have yet found a tenant.

Coronavirus York updates; 19th July 2020

Deaths and test results

No more hospital deaths or positive test results in the City again today

The Plan

The Council has now published a plan which lays out how it will deal with further stages of the pandemic. It will be discussed at a meeting taking place on Thursday and can be read by clicking here

The report provides a useful compendium of information on processes and procedures.

The Council expects to spend £3/4 million on its Coronavirus response in the period up to April 2021.

The Councils main failure during the epidemic has been poor communications. It still fails to recognise the need for regular figures to be published on the success of the “track and trace” process, on which hopes of avoiding a “second wave” now largely rest.

Regular updates should also be provided on the number of infectious cases there currently are in the City, and how many hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 cases

“Big Conversation”

The Council has been selectively leaking – highly selective – results from its survey of public opinion (styled as a “big conversation”)

It failed to gain public support for some of its transport initiatives pointedly omitting any questions about the controversial decisions from the questionnaire.

There has been no table published tabulating the results. A Council report offers the following summary.

“So far there have been over 500 responses.

The key issues arising from the Covid-19 related health questions are summarised below:

a. 98% confident they know the symptoms (82% extremely or very confident)

b. 98% confident they know what to do if they have symptoms (86% very or extremely confident)

c. 95% confident of social distancing guidance (81% very or extremely)

d. There is less confidence in who and how many to socialise with, rules around returning to work and journeys you should make. We will look at what we can do to address these.

e. There is low confidence others will stick to rules

f. More people understand our advice than the governments

g. Slight challenge re shops and public transport which we can look to address.

h. Lower confidence re how safe York will be when visitors from UK or abroad come. Will need addressing.

i. 95% feel informed of what they can do to stop the spread of the virus (75% extremely or very)”.

York Central southern access (Wilton Rise area)

Illustrative York Central Masterplan approved in 2019

Most attention is currently focusing on a reserved matter planning application for the site which is due to be considered by the Council shortly.

There are several controversial aspects to that plan not least some of the transport proposals. Pedestrians have objected to the loss of the route in front of the Railway Museum, while a plan to restrict access through the Leeman Road tunnel (Marble Arch) has been widely vilified.

Existing footbridge

One area that has had little scrutiny is the southern access to the site.

Currently this comprises a footbridge over the railway line at the top of Wilton Rise. It is inaccessible for disabled people and very awkward for cyclists. A proposal for a parallel access general traffic route into the site via Chancery Rise was discounted 2 year ago leaving the fate of the footbridge still to be determined.

Now the Council is being recommended to hand back the Chancery Rise site to Network Rail . They will use it to accommodate activities displaced from the York Central main development site.

Provision for cyclists is crude

A report to a meeting next week says that £6.2 million is needed to fund the southern access. That is a substantial investment in a project which has not yet been subject to public consultation or a planning application.

Papers for the meeting which considered an outline masterplan in 2019 contained little detail of the proposal (although at that time the whole of Wilton Rise was included within the development site boundary). Wilton Rise is an unadopted highway

The current retained matters planning application pointedly has a boundary which excludes consideration of issues relating to the southern access. Nor is any mention made of any ramp within the application area which would be necessary to gain access to the foot/cycle bridge or of reserved  links to the new infrastructure and spine road.

The man concerns though will be about what happens on the Wilton Rise side of the railway line.

If the Chancery Rise land is taken out of the options list, then the only possible footbridge access would be from Wilton Rise or the Cleveland Street area.

Such an access would require substantial ramping and could conflict with the indicative master plan agreed less than a year ago.

The Council needs to be more clear about its plans and hoped for milestones on the southern access.

Outline planning permission site boundary

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


Hutchison 3G Telecommunications Equipment Bellhouse Way York

Erection of 19 metre monopole supporting 6 no. antennas with a wrap around equipment cabinet at the base of the column, installation of 3 no. new equipment cabinets and ancillary development (next to grass verge, adjacent to Community centre, Bellhouse Way)

Ref. No: 20/01183/TCMAS 


28 Rosemary Road York YO24 3FN

Erection of detached dwelling to the rear of 76 Tudor Road

Ref. No: 20/01060/FUL 


Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning online web site.

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