Fresh Questions Over York Fireworks Fiasco

Fresh questions have been raised over this month’s ‘Gunpowder Plod’ fireworks event after it was revealed that the Council did not receive any rental payment from the company behind the event.

City of York Council gave organisers ‘Rat Race Adventures’ use of the Knavesmire venue for no charge. This subsidy was offered in the expectation that profit in future years, though crucially not this year, would be shared. However, it is unclear what will happen to this arrangement after the event received widespread criticism and reportedly left many visitors unhappy.

Visitors complained of two hour long queues at food stalls, a delay of an hour for the start of the fireworks display, a delayed start for the 5km race, and a bonfire which had burnt out before people arrived. In response to the criticism ‘Rat Race Adventures’ promised to donate £5,000 to charity.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Leisure & Culture, commented:

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School transport costs could exceed budget by £500,000

Increased use of the Danesgate Community school in Fulford has been blamed for an increase in school transport costs for the York Council.

Currently around 150 children attend the school which was set up as a “referral unit” for those with behavioral problems. The reasons for the increase have not been revealed by the Council, although there is a move to get all schools to bear the pooled costs of transport to specialist units like these.

The overspend forms part of a £1 million potential end of year deficit on the Council’s Children and Young Peoples budget.

The issue will be debated at a “scrutiny” meeting which is taking place on 21st November.

Other significant budget pressures include the increasing number of children being put with foster parents.

On a more positive note, York has the lowest level of children in workless households in the region, which the Council claims is “an illustration of our comparatively strong economy creating good conditions and prospects for young people”.

North Yorkshire Police mobile safety (speed) camera routes 14 – 20 November 2012

North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following routes between Wednesday 7 November and Tuesday 13 November 2012.

•A64 east-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•B1228 Main Street, Elvington, York
•B1228 Dunnington Lodge, Elvington, York
•A1237 Monks Cross, York
•A64 west-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•A64 east-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•A19 Selby Road, Whitley
•Millfield Road, Chapel Haddlesey
•A64 west-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•A64 east-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•Brayton Lane, Brayton, Selby
•Barff Lane, Brayton, Selby
•A64 west-bound Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•A64 Between Whitwell Hill and Barton Hill
•A64 Between Barton-le-Willows and Jinnah
•A64 Between Barton Hill and Whitwell Hill
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Labour may back LibDem idea for market in Acomb

At the beginning of the month we said that the Council were ignoring the needs of sub-urban shopping areas, with Front Street one of the main victims.

Despite this the Labour Cabinet went ahead and allocated another £1.6 million for upgrades to the Newgate market in the City centre.

Well fancy that! Click to enlarge

With Acomb residents and traders increasingly angry about the Councils policies, it seems that Labour are finally waking up to the disquiet.

Whether traders who recently formed the “Acomb Alive” group will be impressed by the decision to hold an “information afternoon” on 8th December remains to be seen.

The absence of any funding to support a regeneration initiative may fuel scepticism as will the decision to scrap resident’s ballots on ward funding priorities and the plan to hold ward committee meetings at times when most people will be at work or school.

York Council owed £3.7 million

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the York Council is owed £3.7 million in Council Tax debt (accumulated prior to the current year).

Debts by property value. click to enlarge

This has been accrued by 8598 residents.

Of these, 181 owe more than £3000 and 61 owe more than £5000.

4134 residents have been claiming Council Tax benefits for more than 1 year.

15,105 residents in the City currently qualify for reduced Council Tax payments.

Of these 3239 are in paid work while 3964 also receive employment or income support. 1899 are receiving job seekers allowances.

Students showcase their cycle training achievements

Students from a secondary school in York are among the first to take part in this year’s cycle training course, offered by City of York Council.

Youngsters from Millthorpe School are taking part in the Bikeability training session, to showcase their new cycling achievements.

For a small fee all York students aged between 12 and14 years of age can now train and qualify for the Bikeability Level three cycle training, which is the only government approved cycle training scheme.

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York Monks Cross car vandal sought by police.

Vandalism suspect

York police are appealing for information after a car was damaged outside a supermarket at Monks Cross.

Officers have released a CCTV image of man suspected of causing the damage which occurred in Sainsburys car park at around 6.35pm on 29 August 2012.

The man is seen on CCTV using a key to scratch the side of a grey BMW 5 Series before going shopping in the store.

Officers are appealing to anyone who recognises the man to contact them with information.

Anyone who can help officers with their enquiries is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for PC Rob Milliner or York police.

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12120175544 when passing information about this incident.

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: http://tinyurl.com/York-centre-access-plan-Nov-12

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.

Council abandons ballot on resident’s priorities

The Council have discontinued the annual survey which allowed residents to decide how Ward Committee budgets should be allocated.

Last year Ward Councillors ignored the results of the ballot anyway and voted to spend money on projects rejected by local residents (including, in Westfield, the now infamous project to purchase new “pantomime costumes”)

There is a survey being conducted, into what the Council claims to be “local priorities”, but it is so well hidden on the their web site that few, if any, will find it.

Click here to participate http://tinyurl.com/York-ward-Nov-12

There is only one question to answer!

Meanwhile, in Westfield, the next Ward Committee meeting (which are now very poorly attended) has been scheduled to take place at Acomb Explore Library, Front Street on Thursday 29th November

It is the only opportunity residents will have to question their representatives on their controversial plan to introduce a 20 mph speed limit across the whole of western York.

The start time for the meeting, though, is 2:30pm!!

So you get the message that they’d prefer that residents didn’t attend