Independent probe into failings at York Council

York Councillors are being asked to appoint an individual investigator to look into allegations of malpractice at the York Council.

A decision on an appointment will be made at a meeting next week

The meeting will be held in private

No estimates of the likely cost of the new investigation have been published but it is likely to involve the use the Local Government Association.

It is the latest in a, long line of mishaps at the Council. Relations between officials and some members of the ruling coalition have been tense since two prominent Liberal Democrat Councillors were sacked from the Council Executive by the then Leader David Carr.

The LibDems were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing although the costs to taxpayers of the investigation were estimated to be around £100,000.

Cllr Aspden was only reinstated as the Councils Deputy Leader last week

Cllr Carr was himself sacked as Council Leader and faced a disciplinary hearing which was held behind closed doors. The results of the meeting were not publicised but it is understood that Cllr Carr claimed that he was only following officer advice

Cllr Aspden – who lost his responsibility allowance while suspended from the Executive – said, after being cleared, that he would consider whether to seek compensation.

 

Council “U Turn” on ResPark discounts?

Small car discount

The York Council announced a few weeks ago that it was restricting the discounts available for small vehicle users who needed ResPark permits. It said that in future the permits would only be available for drivers of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV).

These are electric vehicles. There are no “on street” charging facilities for such vehicles in York.

Also being lost were the 50% discounts that currently apply for the drivers of short cars. These were introduced over a decade ago when small cars like the “Smart” came onto the market. The idea was to reduce the demand for kerbside space. Discounts were available for vehicles under 2.7 metres long.

These disappeared when the new charges were agreed earlier in the year.

They have now mysteriously reappeared in the minutes of a subsequent meeting. It is a shame that the Council were not more open in their debate about discounts. They have still to explain how any ULEV owner could reasonably be expected to recharge their vehicles.

Separately a “scrutiny” report on the vexed subject of ResPark is being presented to an executive meeting next week. The report recommends several changes including larger ResPark areas and electronic enforcement options.

Lincoln Court modernisation set to double in cost.

Council admits it got costs wrong

Modernisation plans 2018

The estimated cost of modernising the independent living flats at Lincoln Court has increased from £1.9 million to £4.8 million. Council officials, in a report to an executive committee meeting next week, admit that they got their measurement figures wrong in a report published in March 2018.

A contract for £4.7 million had already been let for the Windsor House/Lincoln Court redevelopment 

The new scheme would include 15 new apartments which would meet disabled access standards. In total there would be 35 units on the site.

Although the report has not been approved, Council officials have already submitted a planning application for the scheme. The planning application is due to be determined on 20th March 2019.

It is currently blocked by an objection from Sport England.

Sport England objects to the loss of the all-weather games area on which the extension to Lincoln House will be constructed. They insist that a replacement is provided.

A local residents association supports Sport England’s position.

It has been suggested that a new games area could be provided nearby on the Thanet Road Sports Area.

Kingsway MUGA

The report seeks to address to sports area issue by saying “To note that in approving Option 1 a commitment is made for alternative recreational facilities following community consultation including Sport England within Westfield Ward in mitigation for the loss of the Multi Use Games Area. The alternative facilities provided are to be agreed by Executive and will be subject to a further report and budget approval”

That isn’t likely to cut any ice with residents who will want to know what it to be provided and when before any planning application is approved. (The last ploy by officials was that some outdoor gym equipment would be provided on Chesneys field)

The report also candidly accepts that the new scheme will reduce the amount of garden space available for Lincoln Court residents.

That will not be popular.

No attempt is made to address the lack of car parking provision or the effect on traffic congestion, on approach roads, that the expansion will have.

Altogether too little, too late from Council officials who have treated tenants and neighbours with little more than contempt over the last 12 months.

Residents invited for first look at new Castle Gateway plans

York residents are invited to view plans for a multi-storey car park at St George’s Field, a new bridge over the Foss and a residential development at Castle Mills area.

This is the first phase of the Castle Gateway masterplan, with planning applications due to be submitted in late spring of this year.

The proposed developments are the vital first stages to deliver the centrepiece of the vision for Castle Gateway – a new public space around Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of York.  The four-storey car park at St George’s Field is needed to replace the parking places which would be lost on the current Castle Car Park, and would be funded through the new residential apartment developments on the site of the now demolished Castle Mills Car Park.

As part of the plans a new public bridge spanning the River Foss would connect Piccadilly and the rear of the Castle Museum, opening up planned cycle and pedestrian route along the river into town.

The drop-in events at Spark:York feature an exhibition of the proposals and the opportunity to talk to the team about the plans. There is also the chance to take guided walks of the area to explore the developments on location:

  • Saturday 16 March from 11am-2pm with guided walks leaving at 11.30am, 12 noon, 12.30pm and 1pm
  • Wednesday 20 march from 3-7pm with guided walks leaving at 3.30pm and 6pm

Come along to a drop-in session or join the conversation on twitter @MyCastlGateway , www.facebook.com/MyCastleGateway  or at www.mycastlegateway.org 

More on York Community Stadium parking arrangements

Following a lively exchange on social media the former Chairman of the York Knights rugby team has shared a plan showing the layout of car parking spaces at the new Community Stadium

The plan confirms that there will be 55 parking spaces in an “east” car park which will be for the exclusive use of match officials, Directors, staff and players. & will be allocated for the disabled. A further 25 disabled spaces are allocated in a “north” car park

268 spaces are being provided to service the cinema, restaurant, leisure and community users. It is unclear how these will be reserved for these users on match days.

The main on site “match day” parking allocation is for 400 spaces. It is claimed these spaces will be for “permit holders”. It is unclear how much these permits will cost or whether they will be available for casual fans and “away” supporters

Adjacent is the Park and Ride site with a further 434 spaces. It is this area that the Council have announced will be subject to a £10 parking charge (although sources within the Council say this decision is being reviewed).

Meanwhile 250 people have now signed the petition objecting to the £10 charge. The organisers have still not said to whom and when they hope to present the petition.

Hyper Hub recharging point plan for York

City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to agree to progress plans to develop rapid charging points – known as Hyper Hubs – for electric vehicles at two locations in the city.

A report that will be considered at a meeting on Monday 18 March explains that the council’s bid for a European Regional Development Fund grant towards the cost of the project has been successful, and also seeks agreement for the initial consultation phase of the project to begin in May.

If the go-ahead is given, Hyper Hubs will be developed adjacent to the Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar Park & Ride sites. The Hyper Hubs will combine solar energy harvesting and storage with electric vehicle charging points, reducing the reliance of electric vehicles on the UK electricity grid and, at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A solar canopy would be erected over approximately 100 car parking spaces, with an energy storage facility located nearby. There would be a number of rapid charging points for use by private car owners, taxi drivers and business users. Depending on the vehicle, a charge could take as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

If approved, the £1.5 million cost of the project will be met using £800,000 of Go Ultra Low funding from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles and £700,000 of European Regional Development Funding. The council is also working to deliver a Hyper Hub with York Hospital.

To find out more about the report, or to attend the Executive meeting, visit: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeId=733

Free recycling boxes offered for kerbside collections as part of a six month pilot

In a bid to encourage even more residents to recycle, householders in York will be offered up to three free replacement recycling boxes for their kerbside collections from next week.

City of York Council originally outlined plans to introduce a pilot scheme back in November, when the proposals were taken to a meeting for approval here

As well as providing an update on the York Community Recycling Fund and initiatives to reduce fly-tipping, approval was also given to undertake a pilot of the recycling boxes, using the £20k already allocated.

The pilot will start on Monday 11 March for up to six months and will offer up to three replacement recycle boxes to households in York.

To find out more information or to order the boxes visit: www.york.gov.uk/ReplacementBins

Garden waste collections will also start again from April, following a break during the winter season.

To find out when collections are due to take place visit: www.york.gov.uk/refuselookup

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