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Cost of Ascot Way disabled centre soars by 37%

Council blames the “complexity” of the selected design for the increase.

A Council report published today reveals that the cost of the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children will increase from the originally budgeted figure of £4.3 million (January 2018) to an estimated £5.9 million.

Demolition works have started at Windsor House

This comes after the Council, In April 2018, had agreed to increase the proportion of the costs which would be funded by borrowing

£1.1 million of the increased costs will come from a Health service grant with the rest being transferred from the education budget.

It appears that some features  of the building are being “value engineered” out of the design.

The centre is being built on the site of the Windsor House elderly persons home. The neighbouring Lincoln Court independent living building is also being modernised and extended at the same time.

While both projects have been welcomed, concerns have been expressed about traffic congestion and parking issues in the area.

The impact of the developments on open space and sports facilities in the neighbourhood have also been criticised.

Details of the new budget allocations are being kept secret by the Council. It is unclear what promised features in the building may now be omitted.

The meeting to consider the budget increase is taking place on 18th June.

Plan for disabled centre in Ascot Way faces £350,000 financial hurdle

A report being presented to a Council meeting next week says that the cost to taxpayers of developing a Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their families in Ascot Way will be more than expected.

An additional £350,000 will have to be borrowed to finance the £4.3 million project.

This is mainly the result of a lower than expected valuation of The Glen Short Breaks centre which is to be sold to help pay for the new development.

When originally suggested, the expectation was that the Glen site would be sold for £1,250,000. It is this figure that has reduced and produced the funding shortfall.

Annual repayments (principal plus interest) on the borrowing are expected to be around £195,000 a year.

The news comes a day before an open meeting to discuss the project is being held at Windsor House (see below)

Plans for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children revealed.

Ascot Way proposals generally welcomed

The plans to establish a new centre for disabled children on the former Windsor House site on Ascot Way were generally welcomed at a public meeting held on Monday. The plans will now be discussed at a Council Executive meeting next week

The Council says that the new building will be the setting for a range of support services which will enable disabled children to remain in their families and in their community, delivered from a safe, accessible space

  • Flexible short break provision to meet the needs of children and young people with Autism, Learning Disabilities and/or additional health needs.
  • Family Intervention Rapid Support Team (FIRST) and Therapeutic Short Breaks a specialist Clinical Psychology led intensive assessment and intervention service for families with children and young people who have Autism and Learning Disability and challenging behaviour which affects their ability to live in the local community

The facility will be linked to Hob Moor Oaks special school. Disabled children will be able to walk to the new provision after school, instead of being transported across the city on minibuses. Part of the playing field of the school will be used for the project.

The buildig will replace the facilities currently provided at The Glen.

The scheme is imaginative and worthy of support. However, the proposal to retain the front entrance (and therefore vehicular access) via Ascot Way is controversial. There are already congestion and parking problems in the area. An access, with car parking,  via Hob Moor school would address this issue, while offering the opportunity to provide better accessibility for Lincoln Court.

The detailed plans also suggest that an outdoor play area be provided adjacent to Lincoln Court. While many older people like to feel involved in the local community, inevitably playgrounds can be noisy places. We think that the location of this part of the facility should be reconsidered.

Residents will hope that any building work on the project will not take place at the same time as the threatened development of the Newbury Avenue garage site.

Illustrations of what is proposed are reproduced below

City centre footstreet hours to be extended. Disabled parking to be reduced.

The Council has announced that it plans to make changes to the central area access arrangements.

These include:

• Standardising and extending the footstreet hours of operation to 10.30am to 5pm, 7 days a week ,

• Controlling vehicle use of Davygate (prohibiting all vehicles from using Davygate during the footstreet hours of operation including those with blue and green parking badges).

• amending the existing one way operation around St Sampson’s Square

• Further limiting the access in to the central area via the Nessgate / Spurriergate junction (24 hour vehicle ban)

Details of the proposals can be found here:

Details of residents responses to a survey on the future of the City Centre are shown in the report. They indicate a very low response rate.

Decisions on the proposals will be taken by a Labour Councillor at a meeting next Monday.

“Sliding bollards” plan for York City centre

Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.

Phase 1 of the vehicle exclusion zone

The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)

The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people

More disabled parking is planned for Piccadilly

It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism

Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).

“Sliding” bollards are planned for the entrances to several streets.

The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.

The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.

In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:

•             continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services

•             creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)

•             extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours

•             supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride

*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.

Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.

City centre future

The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exercise on the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.

Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.

If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.

This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.

The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.

The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street

£70,000 investment to refurbish city centre toilets

City of York Council is investing £70,000 to refurbish Silver Street and Coppergate public toilets in York’s city centre – with the works starting next week.

Works to update the Silver Street facilities will start on Monday 5 November. They are expected to take around two weeks to complete – ahead of the lead up to the Christmas festivities and St Nicholas Fair.

The refurbishment will be carried out in stages, once Silver St is completed, works will then start on Coppergate. The disabled toilets (changing places) and market traders’ toilets at Silver Street will be refurbished first, followed by other facilities. There will be a full closure of Silver Street from Monday 5 November for two weeks.

There will be signage in place signposting visitors to alternative city centre facilities, which include Coppergate, Exhibition Square and Rougier Street.

The work will be managed by Healthmatic, the council’s toilet management contractor, who will be investing their money and time in the sites as well.


City centre security on the council agenda

Plans to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from the threat of terrorist attacks will be considered by two key council committees over the next fortnight.

York’s busiest city centre spaces are set for increased protection under plans unveiled by the council to combat the threat posed to UK cities by terrorists.

Following a decision by the Executive in February, the council commissioned independent security experts to develop a plan for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

After reviewing all the city centre access points, the report recommends changes in the first ‘priority zone’ including Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate.

Longer-term, this will involve replacing many of the existing temporary measures, such as those at the end of Parliament Street, with permanent fixtures.

The council plans to introduce this as an experimental traffic order, which will give up to six months to understand the impact and work with affected groups like residents, retailers and disabled people.

Before the decision is taken on Thursday 27 September, the Executive has requested that the proposals are presented to today’s Economy and Place Development Committee, so the committee can consider the potential impact that the measures could have on disabled access to the city centre.

Superintendent Lindsey Robson, commander for the York and Selby area, said:

“We’re working with the council to make sure that York has the right security measures in place to keep residents and visitors as safe as possible.

“The national threat level remains severe which means a terrorist attack is highly likely and is likely to come without notice.

“This combined with the shift in methods from complex, coordinated attacks that we’ve seen around the world, to more basic attacks in the UK using hire cars and knives, means that we must do all that we can to protect the city from such attacks.

·             “Alongside these physical measures there is a lot going on behind the scenes and we continue to work alongside counter terrorism police to prevent, disrupt and deter dangerous extremists across the country.

“We thank members of the public for their continuing support and although the likelihood of being involved in an attack is low, we urge them to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or activity to police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or via In an emergency always call 999.”

The current threat level across the UK from international terrorism remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely and the police reiterate the long-standing advice to remain vigilant and alert.

In the rare event of getting caught up in a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice. Run to a place of safety rather than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go then hide and don’t confront. Finally, and only when it is safe to do so, tell the police by calling 999.


Disabled social care customers asked to make own transport arrangements in York

184 adult customers requiring transport to reach their social care destinations are still heavily reliant on CYC commissioned support. Over 90% of these  are adults with learning disabilities (travelling to centres such as Brunswick Organic Nursery, Greenworks, Pine Trees etc). A small number of older (Long Term Team) customers use commissioned transport to access day care services on a regular basis.


Approximately two thirds of these customers are currently being transported via an in-house fleet of “rapidly ageing” vehicles, whilst one third are transported by shared or individual taxis via a CYC contract with Streamline Taxis.

A Council media release says, “Whilst various options have been considered Councillors are being asked to agree that the council adopts a personalised approach whereby every adult customer is offered a direct payment to make their own transport arrangements, ensuring that transportation is flexible, accessible and tailored to the needs of individuals and communities”.

This is similar to the system introduced a few years ago where the majority of users of home care services are given money to pay for the own choice of provider. It proved to be a popular choice.

If agreed, the changes will see adult customers being offered a transport direct payment and will be able to choose from a range of council approved providers. A dedicated support officer will also be appointed to support the residents for the first 18 months of the new approach and help them develop personal transport plans, helping them be more independent.

The move is expected to cut £272,000 from the social care budget

The Council says its in house fleet will be run down by 2020 and that there may be 6 redundancies. The contract with Steamline taxis will not be renewed.

Each customer would receive on average around £5000 a year to pay for transport (plus mobility payments)

The recommended model hopes to equip customers with the confidence to take ownership of their requirements and offer them more choice and control over their transport arrangements.  

At the meeting councillors will also be asked to agree to the eligibility criteria for access to transport services, and if approved, the closure of the council’s fleet transport service by March 2020, which would reduce incrementally.

The residents would also be able to benefit from free York Independent Living and Travel Skills (YILTS) training to help them to travel independently. The YILTS training has already benefited customers and given them the confidence to travel independently while developing their social and financial skills.

The proposals align with the principles of the Care Act 2014, which aims are to place emphasis on prevention, early intervention and independence. The changes would affect 184 customers, of whom 26 are already travelling independently and a third travel through shared or individual taxis. All will be assisted via the dedicated support officer and access the free YILTS training.

Martin Farran, corporate director for health, housing and adult social care said: “With an ageing fleet we need to look at the options available to deliver an efficient and sustainable transport service for our customers. This report looks at options to give social care customers more choice and control over their transport, in lines with the principles of the 2014 care act, so they can take more ownership of their requirements.”

An executive report can be read by clicking here


Disabled parking plan for Reynard’s garage site

Opposition to siting of commercial sea containers grows

Sea containers to be parked on Piccadilly?

Sea containers to be parked on Piccadilly?

Objectors have said that a plan to put sea containers on the Reynard’s garage site on Piccadilly is flawed.

“They are visually intrusive and the proposed 3 year lease represents a very short sighted constraint on the, much needed, redevelopment of the Piccadilly/Castle area.

The City should aspire to much higher standards than are implicit in this project.  To place commercial containers in a location which has visual links to both the Castle complex and historic buildings like the Merchant Adventurers Hall would be an unfortunate precedent.

It is far from clear, from the published papers, how the Council could hope to benefit financially from what is a high risk, speculative venture. The proposed uses would also be in competition with other existing businesses such as the, still relatively new, Shambles market hospitality area”.

It has been suggested that in the short term, the land be used for blue badge vehicle parking. “It is slightly perplexing why this option wasn’t implemented in the early autumn when the demolition works were completed”.

Allocation of the site as a (free) disabled parking area has the advantage of requiring little investment (save for signage) and would ease the pressures on both the Castle car park – which is busy in the run up to Christmas at least – and some City centre streets.

Reynards Garage site

Reynard’s Garage site

The site is closer to City centre amenities and principal shops than other car parks and would therefore be a boon for the disabled.

Those parts of the former garage site which cannot be used for parking cars (because of the configuration) could accommodate cycle racks – again taking pressure off the oversubscribed facilities on Parliament St. The site has the advantage of CCTV security cover.

 The Council has been struggling to find a viable plan to regenerate the Piccadilly area for nearly 20 years.

If the Council cannot bring its “Southern Gateway” project to fruition in less than 3 years, then invitations to tender for use of the land on a medium-term basis should be publicly advertised.

Any proposals can then be properly judged in a transparent way and in the confident knowledge that all businesses and organisations will have had the opportunity to put their case forward and on a level playing field.

Nine Children’s Centres in York under threat

Hob Moor and Westfield sites among those targeted for cuts

Children's centres in York click for detail

Children’s centres in York click for detail

City of York Council has launched a consultation on “developing Children’s Centre services into a new way of working with families”.
In effect this means that the centres would cease to function.

The consultation survey can be found at and will be open for completion and comment until 25 May 2016.

The council says it is “planning to make Children’s Centre services a key part of new Local Area Teams being created to support families in the crucial early years of a child’s life and through into adulthood (up to 19 years old or 25 years old for disabled young people)”.

However, the consultation talks – in the small print – about exploring “for each of our buildings if transferring ownership and management to partners and communities could save money but still ensure services for families“.

It is clear that the Council plans to de-register its children’s centres and hand the buildings over to third parties including possibly the burgeoning number of independent “Academy” schools.

Effectively parents and neighbours would lose their influence over how – or even if – the centres operate.

The Council line is that they will “locate services in local communities – providing access to community health services, parenting and family support, early education and childcare, as well as links to training and employment opportunities for families with children aged under five.

The consultation is being shared with service users and professionals across the city. The proposals recognise that the council needs to be able to help those in most need at the earliest possible stage, so that every child in York has the best possible start in life, that issues in later life are prevented and so that the need for more intensive and high-cost interventions are reduced.

As part of the new approach for families the proposals are that the council will:

  • •Ensure support for all families through Health Visitors, good quality childcare and groups for families that provide social, supportive and developmental activities.
  • • Do more when families need us most which could be as simple as talking to someone, through to support around post-natal depression or domestic abuse.
  • • Make the best use of existing buildings and staff. Every year over 20 per cent of the Children’s Centre budget is spent on the buildings. The proposals are to reduce this in order to maximise the number of staff working with families, where the families need them”.