York’s adult learning service rated ‘good

York’s adult learning service – York Learning – has been rated ‘good’ by independent inspectors Ofsted.

The service currently providers education and training for over 5,000 local residents, many of whom study courses in English, maths, ICT or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The inspectors praised the welcoming atmosphere created by course tutors and the high-quality curriculum which focuses on improving learners’ knowledge and skills.

They also highlighted how much learners enjoy their programmes and develop their confidence and resilience as a result.

Areas for improvement included setting clear goals for learners on community learning courses and ensuring that changes in the teaching and assessment of maths lead to improvements in apprentices’ ability to pass their exams.

The service’s last inspection was in 2011 when it was also rated ‘good’.

River Ouse put to work in Guildhall restoration

The York Council was criticised for allowing the Guildhall to remain empty for 8 years adding to renovation costs

The river Ouse will be put to work this week as deliveries of infrastructure and materials make their way to the Guildhall as part of the restoration works. 

Barges will deliver all the steelwork for the construction and the precast concrete floor slabs that would be near impossible to deliver by road to the city centre location. The use of the river significantly reduces road deliveries into the heart of the city.

These initial deliveries will install the pontoons and begin the erection of the onsite tower crane, enabling regular deliveries to take place from the River. Shortly after, barges will then remove the demolition spoil to a waste re-processing facility in Goole, taking more skip lorries off the city’s road network.

The barges and pontoons carrying the materials replays the route taken by barges in the medieval period when the minster stone was brought to York by boat.  They will travel between Queen’s Staith and Guildhall, arriving near the historic entrance to the city known as Common Hall Lane; the original wharf through which stone for the minster was delivered before travelling up Stonegate to the site of the city’s landmark.

The river Ouse was for centuries the main highway of trade for the city and this week residents will see it back in action to aid the restoration of the city’s Guildhall.

The £20 million redevelopment of the Guildhall will see a business club installed  in the building.  There are concerns that taxpayers will face an ongoing burden following the withdrawal of commercial backers.

Some success with graffiti removal in York

The new team of graffiti cleaners seem to be getting to grips with recent reports. Still some way to go though particularity with attacks on street utility junction boxes. The utility company is responsible for keeping these clean.

Graffiti that we reported before Christmas has been removed from the railway bridge on Wilton Rise
Unfortunately it has been replaced by other “works of art”
Even the anti graffiti sign has been attacked!
Graffiti on junction boxes in Beech Avenue also reported before Christmas is still there
Graffiti on a junction box in Kingsway West is a more recent report.
The Leeman Road tunnel is a regular target for “artists”
Detritus build up on the Wilton Rise side of the footbridge
Cinder Lane side of bridge looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for months. Cinder Lane still has weed growth from last summer.
Pothole on Foxwood Lane reported
Faulty “next bus” screens haven’t been working for several weeks.

Council progress on Public Rights of Way

A council report says that all but one outstanding applications, for a Public Rights of Way in the City, have now been processed for a decision.

Council barriers used to obstruct public right of way

Unfortunately the outstanding application is the one for Acomb Moor (the link from Foxwood Lane to Osprey Close).

The Council promised to determine this by the end of February.

Following our story yesterday, were advised that the Osprey Close footpath obstruction has resulted from drainage works undertaken in the area.

The residents association is pressing local Councillors to provide a hardcore surface to ensure that walkers can at least get past the mud.

In that respect the path provided by the Council for the Hawkshead Close access into the wood.

Leaf detritus needs to be swept from Osprey Close footpaths

NB. We’ve asked for the Osprey Close area to be swept to remove tree detritus and the remains of last years weed growth which can still be found in some gutters.

Some weeds still obstructing drainage gullies.

Council blocks popular footpath link

Over the last few days contractors have been working on the Council owned section of Acomb Wood near the top of Osprey Close.

They put some hard core down near the entrance gate (good) but they have left a large spoil heap blocking the popular footpath access to the wood.

They have also erected Council owned barriers on the PROW footpath link to Acomb Moor and Foxwood Lane beyond.

As well as the spoil heap, the actions of a tractor have reduced the path to an impassable quagmire. A spectacularly bad time of year to undertaken work like this.

It is unclear who is responsible for the work (the farmer has a right of access but he usually accesses his field direct from Askham Lane).

Paths in the Council owned section of Acomb Wood get very muddy. Their condition contrast with the well maintained – by volunteers – section of the wood on the other side of the road.

Only the Council would have any reason to work on this land – which is a publicly owned amenity area – but to do so without any warning or consultation is remarkably insensitive.

The residents association are planning to discuss the issue at their meeting next week.

There is scope for putting down hardcore on other sections of the popular footpath which goes through the Council owned part of Acomb Wood and which gets very muddy in places.

Hydro electric power generation scheme at Naburn set to be approved

The Councils planning committee is being recommended to approve an application which would see York see its first modern hydro electric power generation on the river Ouse.

The generators would be sited near Naburn Lock.

The proposal comprises two Archimedes screw turbines, a multi-species fish pass, a turbine house building, hydraulic channels, trash screening and access improvements. The scheme is expected to generate a peak power output of less than 500kW and an average annual energy production of 1.2 GWh. The applicant states that this is sufficient to power around 310 homes and provides an effective CO2e saving of around 620 tonnes per year.

The intake would be situated within the island Application Reference Number: 18/02552/FUL Item No: 4b bank just upstream of the weir, with water passing through coarse trash screening before arriving at the sluice gates and turbine house. The screw turbines would discharge into an outfall channel that re-joins the main river just downstream of the weir. A new fish pass will be constructed along the left-hand side of the hydropower scheme.

Naburn Lock is located on the River Ouse in a rural location to the south of Naburn village. The construction of the locks took place in 1757 and 1888 and has created an island upon which is located the workshops, stores and offices associated with the operation and maintenance of the lock. There was formerly a water mill on the island (constructed between 1813 and 1817) which fell out of use around 1955 and was demolished in 1958.

The locks themselves are listed at Grade II (“Old and New Lock”). Directly to the east lies the Naburn Banqueting House, a vacant Grade II listed building, together with the lock keeper’s house. Access to the site is along a single track road from Naburn Lane, which also serves the Naburn Lock caravan park, located to the east.

Naburn Lock is accessible to members of the public and there is a car park and information board at the end of the access road.

The application will be determined on 16th January

York Council aims to boost small business economy

With hardly a day going by without another retailer or café announcing the closure of premises in York City centre, the council will review its regeneration plans next week.

Last year £300,000 was allocated to promote what was styled as an “Inclusive Growth Initiatives Fund”. It was aimed at making sure that everyone could benefit from a strong local economy.

An update  report published yesterday says that the York economy is performing strongly. There are now more people in work than ever before, and average wages are higher than the rest of the region. 14,000 work in high skilled jobs.

Details can be found by clicking here

Eight initiatives were identified for investment and financial allocations are now being proposed

  • Establishing a York Poverty Commission: (similar to one operating in Leeds). £20k
  • Community hubs as drivers of economic growth (There are a hubs operating in Foxwood and Chapelfields): £40k
  • Greening our retail estate: £70k
  • Community jobs fairs: £30k
  • 14+ vocational training and work: £50k
  • Independent retail growth fund (using the success of the Bishy Road Traders campaign as a model): £40k
  • Mental health, wellbeing and employment: £25k
  • York Economic Strategy consultation: £25k

The Council report concludes, “Inclusive growth cannot have neighbourhoods that are left behind, opportunities that are only selectively available, or a two-tier economy where some people are doing well at the expense of others who are not”.

That may be good news for the poorer parts of York who feel that the quality of public services available locally has deteriorated in recent years.  

This is not least a result of the York Council being stubbornly insensitive to the effect that  closing leisure and sports facilities is having on vulnerable communities.

More recycling put out today than Council could collect

Street cleansing issues also increase following holiday break

The Council says that the volume of recycling put out today on the west of the City exceeded the capacity of its collection vehicles. Their waste update website can be viewed by clicking here They hope to catch up tomorrow(Wednesday)

We’ve submitted numerous reports of litter across the area. This may partly be due to insecure recycling arrangements. 

Hopefully residents will help to get the area looking smart again by undertaken  some volunteer litter picks.

Hedges – A good time to check if they need trimming

There were a lot of problems during the summer with hedges obstructing public paths. In some cases, the obstructions were caused by Council owned trees and bushes. The jury is still out on whether new processes and budget allocations announced earlier this week will result in an improvement during 2020.

Hedges on the boundary of private gardens and the public highway (including foot and cycle paths) are the responsibility of the hedge owner. Home occupiers must ensure that the highway is kept clear of obstructions at all times

Obstructions can be a significant problem for some users. The partially sighted are at a particular risk and cyclists being “swiped” by stray branches can lead to more serious accidents.

In some cases thorn buses like brambles and roses overhang paths representing an added hazard.

Thorn bush branches at eye height are a particular risk

Sadly, like the problems with damage to verges, in recent years the Council has been tardy in ensuring that hedges are cut back from paths. They do have enforcement powers which have been used in the past to force action. In extreme cases hedges have been cut back to the path line after notice periods have expired. The owners were charged for the work.

No such notices have been issued recently.

Of course, some occupiers may not be physically able to cut badly overgrown hedges. It has been suggested that this is a service area that a “not for profit” start-up could usefully exploit. There are already several local gardening companies which offer trimming services.

Even the Councils own cycle tracks were obstructed last summer

With leaves now off trees and hedges, winter is the optimum time to deal with long standing problems. This needs to be done before the start of the bird nesting season.

The Council also has powers to require its tenants to cut garden hedges as do social landlords.

We have advocated for some time the appointment of a paths supervisor who could trim back Council owned hedges and initiate action against irresponsible neighbours who cause obstructions. We hope that the Council will fund such a post in its new budget.

We hope to see some well publicised action from West Offices over the next few weeks.