Decision on future of Castle car park

Ayres rock plan

The government have announced today plans to fund improvements to the area next the Clifford’s Tower. They are responding to a York Council campaign to create a “world class open space” on the area currently occupied by a car park.

Taking inspiration from another world class open space – the Australian outback – a multi storey car park would be established on the land. It would be cleverly designed to look like a natural rock outcrop and would provide a nostalgic destination for tourists from “down under”.

Ayres Rock York” would incorporate other features aimed at addressing the responses to recent consultations. Many were concerned about the Arts. The proposals include;

· Performing arts -Kylie Minogue recordings would be played 24/7

· Live performances –   “Nigel Ayres greatest speech” at least once a month (may not be amplified).

· Re-enactments – Australian tourists would be issued with boomerangs which could be hurled at their Pommie equivalents manning the top of Cliffords Tower. (The issuing of spears to English tourists is under consideration)

· Visual arts – Aboriginal art found on a railway bridge in Holgate will be relocated

Cyclists are not forgotten. An ingenious lift – using waterpower from the adjacent river Foss – would haul cyclists to the summit of the rock. From there they would hurtle down a specially designed ramp which incorporates an upward curve at the end. Scientists estimate that nearly 99% would land on the other side of the river, thereby removing the need to build an expensive bridge.

Consultations are ongoing with the representatives of disabled groups about allowing mobility scooter drivers to use the launch ramp.

Further consultation on the plan will take place over the next year at which time an entirely different set of proposals will be tabled.

NB. The “My Castle Gateway” project has been renamed to “My Castle Outback”.  Castle Outback have commented that concluding consultation on the  Ayres Rock plans within 12 months will be “extremely challenging”.

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Join the conversation about Acomb Front Street’s future

Businesses, residents and visitors are being asked what they love and what they’d like to change about Acomb’s Front Street.

The consultation is the much delayed opportunity to help with the regeneration of the Front Street area.

Fruit stall

The council committed to a £50,000 investment in Front Street, one of the city’s most important shopping areas, before the pandemic brought about even larger challenges to high streets across the UK.

Acomb’s Front Street plays a vital role in the community and the wider city, and is home to many established and well-loved local independent retailers and community spaces. It has a lower than national average proportion of empty units, with occupancy rates bucking the UK trend by increasing significantly in the last three years.

The council is now asking for views which will help to keep Front Street at the heart Acomb’s economy and community.

The Council says that last year “we postponed the survey because of Covid-19. Your views in the survey will be used to create a ‘brief’ of community ideas which we can check with local people before the council executive decides what improvements to make”.

500 residents have already had a new COVID-secure knock on their door from IdB, a market research company working with the council.  The council is working alongside IdB to ask for feedback and ideas from a diverse and representative cross section of Acomb residents. The surveys will be dropped with residents in a sterile bag, along with gloves, an antiviral wipe and a return bag. The market researcher will then return later that day to collect the questionnaire.

Residents can also get involved by:

Coronavirus York updates; 31st March 2021

Deaths

The ONS have updated their weekly monitor of the number of deaths among York residents from COVID-19.

During the week ending 19th March 2021 two residents lost their lives. Both were hospital patients.

There were no deaths in care homes.

No further deaths have been announced by the York Hospital Trust today.

It is now two weeks since the last hospital fatality in York

Test results

Five additional positive test results have been announced today. That brings the total up to 12,198

Citywide case numbers have fallen from 67 to 63 today. There may be a small rise tomorrow before numbers are expected to fall to a 2021 low on Saturday

The infection rate per 100k population figure has fallen to 29.91 today. There now appears to be a real possibility – for the first time in 2 weeks – that a downward trend in infection rates will resume over the Easter period.

For the first time in over a week, infection rates have fallen today at City, county, regional and national levels.

Neighbourhoods

16 York neighbourhoods now each have fewer than 3 cases

There has been a modest increase in infection numbers in the Holgate and Westfield neighbourhoods

Vaccinations

As at 28 March, 91,467 people in York had received their first dose of the vaccine, an estimated 52.6% of the adult population.

9,222 people have received both doses of the vaccine, accounting for an estimated 5.3% of the adult population.

For the first time yesterday at a national level, more people received their second dose than received their first dose of vaccine.

Tests

4,399 people in York had PCR tests during the week ending 26th March 2021

Of these, 1.6% were positive. That is an improvement on yesterdays figure of 1.8%

858 “lateral flow” tests were also carried out on 30th March 2021

Hospitals

There has been a further drop in the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 by the York Hospital Trust

What to do over Easter

This is what the Council is recommending for the Easter holidays. The weather is expected to become cooler and most lockdown RESTRICTIONS ARE STILL IN PLACE

Find more ideas for things to do at home/virtually on the Shine website – https://www.yor-ok.org.uk/young-people/shine-new.htm

Council updates businesses on the restart grant payments

Restart Grants will start being paid to York businesses from w/c 12th April after the government confirmed it would transfer money to local authorities after the Easter weekend.

The council continues to prioritise paying government grants into the bank accounts of qualifying businesses as quickly as possible.

April sees the next phase of grant payments with restart grants being paid to non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation and leisure businesses that are liable for business rates. Businesses that have already qualified for payments from other grant programmes do not need to reapply, and will automatically be paid if they are eligible.

New businesses that started trading between 5 January and 1 April may qualify for restart grants. They can apply through the claim form on the council website, which will be available from Monday 12 April.

Eligible business who have not yet applied for Additional Restriction Grant (ARG) funding must do so before 31 March 2021. See details of available business grants and check if you’re eligible online. After this date businesses will not be able to apply for the ARG grant, but those who have already qualified will continue to receive payments from April onwards in line with roadmap periods.

All qualifying businesses liable for business rates will continue to benefit from business rates relief as previously announced in the March Budget.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance said:

Throughout the pandemic we have prioritised keeping businesses as up to date on the process as we can and in getting payments to them as quickly as possible.

“We are now over a year on since the first lockdown and it has been an incredibly challenging year for us all. We continue to be incredibly grateful to the business community for their understanding and support and to our council staff who are working tirelessly to get each payment into the bank accounts of businesses as soon as possible. We expect these payments to be made from 12 April but as ever will keep businesses updated.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning said:

Many businesses are seeking to re-open as safely as possible, and the council is committed to supporting local businesses through this process.

“The finance team is working hard to ensure that as soon as Government funding is received, payments are made to business’ accounts. We know that the quick payment of these grants is essential for eligible businesses. This is why I have recently written to the Secretary of State to urge for the current system to be streamlined to ensure businesses receive payments as quickly as possible.”

“We continue to update our website with the latest information and eligibility criteria for certain support online.

“Any businesses who have fallen through the cracks of government support please get in touch with us as soon as possible on email: economicgrowth@york.gov.uk.”

Shielding lifts after 1 April as infection rates fall

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in York are being reassured that help is still to hand as, from Thursday 1 April shielding will stop, as virus infection rates continue to fall.

Affected residents will be getting updated guidance from the Government asking them to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of infection from Covid-19. These set out practical steps to reduce the risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

The move follows the first dose vaccination of more than 9 in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people as well as a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations for the last few weeks. People aged 16 or older who have been advised they are clinically extremely vulnerable and who haven’t had their first vaccination should book it via the NHS website. Please take up the second dose of the vaccine when it is offered to further increase your level of protection.

York’s community hubs and the network of food deliverers will continue to offer support. Anyone already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots will to be able to access them until 21 June 2021.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:

Shielding helps safeguard those who are the most clinically vulnerable in our communities. We recognise how difficult this period has been for so many and the impact it has had on people’s wellbeing.

“Being able to lift shielding is testament to the efforts of everyone in the city in stopping the spread of the virus. It means people can start thinking about easing up on the more rigid guidelines and begin going out more. To keep York open and the people we love safe, please continue to observe hands, face, space.

“We are still here to help. Our community hubs can support anyone who needs it, whether to talk to someone or to collect essentials. Please call 01904 551550 or email covid19help@york.gov.uk if you need support.”

Sharon Stoltz, Director of Public Health at City of York Council, said:

Thank you to everyone who has shielded or has helped someone who is shielding: we know how challenging and worrying this period has been for individuals and families.

“Whilst this is another positive step in the road to normal we all still need to be careful. If you have been shielding, please continue to take extra precautions after 1 April to keep yourself as safe as possible.

“No vaccine is 100% effective. Even if you have had both doses, there is still no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from Covid-19, so please remember hands, face, space.”

New free ‘room in roof’ insulation for eligible homeowners

Image result for council house insulation images

A much-needed upgrade of insulation and improvements to York homes has been agreed to improve residents’ wellbeing and fuel bills and to meet our climate neutral ambitions.

In December 2020, Executive approved the improvement of energy performance in 60 council houses in York. This £1m retrofit will bring these homes up to an EPC C rating meaning greater insulation, less fuel burned and greater comfort. It will provide valuable lessons to support future works, boost the local supply chain, upskill tradespeople and housing staff, and support the green economy of the city.

To guide current and future investment in retrofitting homes, a new strategy is being developed to ensure a deeper understanding of the retrofit challenge in the city and bring forward proposed solutions for council housing and within the private sector.

A successful bid of £535,000 was secured by a York-led consortium in December 2020. This Government funding is to deliver energy efficiency measures for homeowners and private landlords to improve their homes in York, Harrogate, Selby and Craven.

In York, we are using our share of the funding to improve 40 homes with poorly insulated rooms in roof spaces. Next month, we will be initially targeting homes in the Clifton area where higher levels of fuel poverty and large numbers of rooms in poorly insulated roof spaces have been identified. The grant will pay for the full cost of works for eligible homeowners and up to 66% of works for private landlords.

In addition, across the four local authority areas, there will be an offer of free loft insulation and draught proofing to all fuel-poor householders with inadequate/no loft insulation.

Meanwhile, a further consortium bid led by York will be submitted this week. It aims to expand our work to insulate rooms in roofs and improve the fabric of 60 council houses including fitting solar photovoltaic panels on some 50 council houses.

Council waste collection “consultation” labeled naïve

The York Council has launched an online consultation today, apparently aimed at justifying its plans to move to 3 weekly recycling collections.

click to take survey

The muddled questionnaire includes several leading questions (will anyone say that they don’t care about the environment?).

It is naive

Waste collection is one Council service that every taxpayer uses. Everyone will have an opinion. They’ll struggle to express their priorities via this exercise.

It fails to to provide any meaningful background.

The costs and effectiveness of the existing system are not mentioned.

We aren’t told how much “extra” recycling the new arrangement would be targeted to produce. Our guess is very little – indeed if people, for practical reasons, choose not to have the new bins, then residual waste volumes could increase.

The practicalities of using larger bins, as well as boxes for paper storage, are not explored. These are likely to be acute in terraced streets and at some blocks of flats.

Given the move to on-line shopping and home deliveries, paper and cardboard volumes are set to increase. For some households two boxes to collect 3 weeks volume of paper waste will be inadequate

On the other hand, some residents will favour the use of a (mixed) wheeled bin to collect bottles and plastic. This is a a more secure arrangement than boxes in high winds although the same could be said of paper collection.

The stuttering performance of the household recycling sites is not explored. A missed opportunity given the long queues seen at Hazel Court recently (and the increase in fly tipping)

The Council’s initiative has little to do with increasing recycling rates. It is simply about cutting costs.

The plan to collect green garden waste between December and March is execrable. Effectively it would mean empty lorries touring York’s streets unnecessarily. Staff would be better used if they were redeployed onto winter maintenance, verge edging and other tasks during the winter.

There is no “Should we change or should we stick with the status quo?” final option

A council confident about its policies would include that question.

Ironically on the same day that this consultation was issued the Council wound up its SJB recycling company.

It expects to receive a £300,000 dividend from winding up the company which it jointly owns with the North Yorkshire County Council.

York Council report 30/3/21 click to read in full

Coronavirus York updates; 30th March 2021

Deaths

The have been no further hospital deaths today. It is now 13 days since the last COVID fatality was announced by the York Hospital Trust

Test results

Three additional positive test results were announced today. Brings the cumulative total up to 12,193

Case numbers in the City are up from 62 yesterday to 67 today. They are expected to fall to around 63 tomorrow.

The rate per 100k population figure climbs to 31.8. The rate has been stable at around 30 since the middle of the month. It is expected to remain at around that level at least until Easter.

Infection rates in North Yorkshire have spiked again and rate continues to grow steadily across the region as a whole

Neighbourhoods

Case numbers in Holgate East are now falling while those in Holgate West are rising! Overall there is little change

Vaccinations

Tests

4467 PCR tests were conducted during the week ending 25th March 2021

Of these, 1.8% were positive. That is the fifth successive day on which increased infection rates have been found.

693 “lateral flow” test were also conducted on 29th March

Hospital

The York Hospital Trust is now treating fewer COVID patients

Appeal following assault at Askham Bar, York

Officers are appealing for witnesses and information following an assault near Tesco at Askham Bar, York.

The incident happened on Monday 8 March at around 11.40am when an 18 year old was assaulted as he left the Tesco store making his way back to York College. It happened on the ramp that leads from the Tesco carpark to the crossing on Tadcaster Rd.

The suspect is described as a white man, of student age, around 5ft 11in in height, with brown hair and of medium build. He was believed to be wearing wearing a light grey hoodie and dark brown skinny jeans and grey trainers.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police. Dial 101, press 2 and ask to speak to PC Darren Cox.

Please quote reference number  12210073613 when passing on any information.

Coronavirus York updates; 29th March 2021

Deaths

There have been no further hospital deaths announced today.

Test results

11 additional positive test results have been announced today bringing the cumulative total up to 12,190

The number of cases in the City has increased from 61 yesterday to 62 today. It is likely that we will see a further increase of a around 4 cases tomorrow below the level stabilises.

The infection rate /100k population has increased to 29.44. The infection rate has fairly consistently hovered around 30 for the last 10 days.

Infection rate at regional level continuing to creep up

Neighbourhoods

No major changes at neighbourhood level today, although the rate in Holgate East has now fallen back below the 100 case threshold.

Vaccinations

Tests

4560 PCR tests were carried out during the week ending 24th March 2021

Of these, 1.6% were found to be positive. That represents an increase on the previous days figure of 1.5%. There has been a steady increase in positivity since the 1.2% low seen on 21st March.

In addition, 3599 “lateral flow” test were carried out on 28th March

Hospitals

The number of COVID patients being cared for by the York Hospital Trust in their intensive care units has fallen to 4.

Acomb Moor footpath problems continue

Its over 4 months since Councillors told residents that a blocked Public Right of Way (PROW) would be reopened . The access to Acomb Moor from Foxwood Lane had been via a stile for over 20 years.

It gradually fell into disrepair and the Council declined to stabilise it.

An application to define the route as a PROW was submitted in late 2018 and supported by the Council some 12 months later.

Shortly afterwards the tenant farmer blocked the access with a large tree trunk. He went on to plant crops in the field (for the first time in over 25 years).

Local residents agreed to use a footpath route which skirted around the outside of the field and this has become a well established exercise route during the lockdown period.

Unfortunately an assurance from local Councillors – that the tree trunk would be moved to allow for single file pedestrian access – was not fulfilled. As a result an new access point has now been forced near the Askham Lane junction.

Of more concern, many walkers are now trying to climb a 5 bar metal gate. A potentially hazardous activity for the elderly and infirm.

There are other points on the route which have also fallen into a, potentially hazardous, state of disrepair.

There are easy and relatively cheap solutions to this problem. The Lockdown period has simply reinforced the importance of informal walking routes near the City.

The Council should act now to make these footpaths accessible and safe.

Coronavirus York updates; 28th March 2021

Deaths

No further hospital deaths today. It is 11 days since the last fatality at the York Hospital Trust

Test Results

Only 3 new positive test results today. That is the lowest figure since last summer (Yesterdays “zero” was a result of a reprofile of older results which had been double counted). The cumulative total is now 12,179.

The number of cases in the City has fallen from 68 yesterday to 61 today. That is the lowest number seen in the City since 11th September 2020

The rate /100k population has fallen back to 28.96. It is expected to remain around this figure for the next 3 days.

The case rate is continuing to increase at regional level.

Stable today at North Yorkshire level.

Falling in the City and at national level.

Neighbourhoods

There is now only one neighbourhood with an infection rate which is above the national average (Holgate East – which has seen a reduction by one case today)

Vaccinations

Tests

4678 PCR tests were conducted in the City during the week ending 23rd March 2021

Of these 1.5% were positive. That is the same rate as the previous day.

864 “lateral flow” tests were also conducted on 27th March