The recent media focus in York about the new Community Stadium has tended to draw attention away from the City’s leisure centres. The future needs to be clarified as the pandemic seems likely to prevent their early reopening.
The centres have been managed by GLL “Better Leisure “ since 2017.
They took over the “Energise” facility on Cornlands Road, the Yearsley swimming pool and – more recently – the new Burnholme and Monks Cross centres. For a short time they had managed the “Waterworld” facility at Monks Cross but it had closed against a background of declining attendances.
The decision to outsource the Council owned facilities was a controversial one. Essentially what had been a Labour controlled Council wanted to minimise the financial risk for taxpayers. The deal that was set up gave the social enterprise provider ample scope to make profits from its new estate.
There have been continuing grumbles about the Energise/Better site with many feeling that charges are too high to be attractive in one of the less well off parts of the City.
In common with similar facilities elsewhere, GLL have been forced to close due to the lockdown (s).
This has presented them with the problem of ongoing expense but no customers. Most of their staff have been “furloughed” and buildings mothballed. The much-delayed opening of the Monks Cross Community Stadium site has added to their woes.
It remains to be seen whether compensation could be payable – and to whom – for the delayed building works.
The Council pays GLL a management fee. Sources within the Council have said that GLL are now seeking compensation for their ongoing losses.
Apparently, the Council have submitted a claim for £399,000 to Sport England who had offered to support leisure operators. This may not be enough to cover the deficit. The Council and GLL are currently undertaking an “open book” review.
Any decision to provide additional financial support from the Council would require a decision from Councillors. Several Councillors – as users of the leisure facilities – would be debarred from voting on any such decision.
There is another body of opinion which thinks that the local authority should bring the facilities back under its direct control.
It seems that the Community Stadium saga has allot further to run.
SEVEN additional deaths announced by the York Hospital Trust today. Two occurred yesterday, three on Monday and two on Sunday.
The 11 fatalities seen on Sunday was the largest single day death toll recorded during the pandemic.
ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY TWO (142) new positive test results today. That is the largest total seen during the last 7 days. It mainly reflects test results counted on Monday (which is usually the highest daily figure).
The case rate trend remains downward. The current figure is 456.77 /100k population. It is still trending to go below 400 by the end of the week.
The infection rate in York is falling faster than the decline at national level.
It remains above the county and regional average.
7755 PCR tests were carried out in York during the week ending 15th January. The positivity rate was 13.4%
915 “lateral flow” tests were conducted on 19th January.
227 patients are now being treated for Coronavirus at the York Hospital Trust. That is a record high number.
However, the Trust also reports that since the start of the pandemic 1503 COVID patients had been treated and discharged from their hospitals
For the first time this month the number of COVID cases has fallen below 1000.
Only 5 of the 22 neighbourhoods in York saw an increase in case numbers during the seven days ending 15th January.
The highest rate can now be found in Wigginton
The lowest rate is in Holgate East
There were reports today of some minor delays at the Regional Vaccination hub at Askham Bar (Moor Lane).
Nationally 4,609,740 people have received their first dose vaccination to date. 460,625 people have received their second dose.
The 343,163 first doses administered on 19th January was the highest ever daily figure
York Council increases support for York businesses
More of York’s businesses are now eligible for lockdown support payments, following an extension to the ‘Additional Restrictions Grants’ on Monday.
Senior councilors today approved proposals to extend grant payments to businesses severely impacted by current national restrictions. These are:
Offering grants to businesses which trade almost exclusively in York, but are not residents of the area, including many York-licensed taxi drivers and market traders who missed out on previous grants
Giving the small number of B&Bs and hotels who legitimately pay council tax, rather than business rates, the same level of grant as other accommodation businesses
Adding the childcare sector to the list of eligible businesses, and allowing nurseries to qualify for the highest level of grant
Supporting supply-chain businesses who are dealing with the closures of their customers.
Applications for eligible businesses are now open via the City of York Council online form, which can be found here. For those who apply successfully for the first time, a grant for November’s lockdown period will automatically be received.
Any business which has already successfully applied for the schemes does not need to reapply. Grants will automatically be distributed and this is being managed by the council’s payments team, who are aiming to process the grants quickly.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:
Like before, we are working swiftly to ensure that local businesses receive the financial support they need to get through this difficult period.
“I would like to thank Council officers who are working around the clock to distribute these grants as quickly as possible. I would also like to thank our local business community in the city for helping us keep businesses informed and to reassure them that this support is on its way.
“Whilst we have made this process as simple as possible by automatically paying businesses which have previously received grants, we know that there will be some businesses who have not applied. I would strongly encourage these businesses to check the criteria and if you qualify, put in an application via www.york.gov.uk/COVIDBusiness .”
Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for economy and strategic planning, said:
These new changes extend the support businesses we know have missed out on the latest government grants. We’ve listened to the city’s businesses and adapted these grant schemes in response, to protect jobs and the city’s wider economy.
“The Additional Restrictions Grant has already allowed to help hundreds of York small businesses who have seen their income dry up, and these adjustments have enabled more businesses operating in the city to get some assistance.
“We know that the need across the city continues to grow, and we remain committed to lobbying for more from central government. We realise that as situations change others are likely to fall through the cracks, and if that is you, please contact us as soon as possible at email@example.com. We appreciate those who have already contacted us, and for continuing to work with us to get recognition for sectors who need assistance.
At this time, many people are feeling overwhelmed and may feel unable to cope with day-to-day life. For those who feel in need of emotional support, a variety of resources can be found via Live Well York.
The decision session of the Executive Member for Finance and Performance took place at 2pm on Monday. You can view the agenda and find details of how to live stream it here .