The loan was secured by a legal charge on the Bootham Crescent ground.
The loan involved annual repayments of £35,000.
The balance of the loan is payable immediately if the Club sell Bootham Crescent. It is understood that a house builder still has an option to purchase the site when the football and rugby clubs move to the new LNER stadium in 2020.
There is a legal charge on the club’s assets to cover this liability.
The Council continue to refuse to publish the valuations that they have undertaken on Bootham Crescent.
They also refuse to say how much rent they expect to receive from the football club at Monks Cross (the stadium part of the development is expected to cost around £16 million of the total £47 million cost of the whole development).
The council has confirmed that, once all
processes have been complete, it intends to release the lease agreement with
York City into the public domain.
19% of Council Tax income will go on servicing interest and
Under current plans, the debts of the York Council are set to increase from £293 million to £384 million by 2023.
The high repayment requirement means that less will be available to spend on basic public services in the City.
That represents a burden of £539 for every York resident.
Although the figures are within the legal limit placed on Council
borrowing, several of the projects being funded have risks which could increase
The figures are included in a report
to a meeting taking place next week.
Separately, the Council is being recommended to find £2.85
million to fund the purchase of an unnamed City Centre property. This is being
described as a “Strategic Commercial Property Acquisition”.
While it is true to say that, in the long term, investments
in City Centre land and buildings by the Council has in the past proved to be of
positive value for taxpayers, the Councils recent
record on asset management has left much to be desired.
The Willow House former elderly persons home building has been empty for several years while the high profile property at 29 Castlegate is in a similar position.
The Councils executive Councillors stubbornly refuse to consider, in public, asset management issues of this sort.
It has emerged that, when the operators of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre on Castle car park went into administration, they owed the York Council over £40,000 in rent payments. The information is contained in an response to a Freedom of Information request published today.
It seems unlikely that the Lunchbox group will have sufficient assets to repay this amount. In total the group had agreed to pay £113,076 to the Council to compensate for the loss of parking income. The Castle car park is the best used in the City.
The pop-up theatre attracted only 47,000 visitors in York this year, compared to 78,000 visitors last year
Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited was placed into administration by the directors “to protect its business and assets” on October 9, 2019
Thor’s Bars Limited and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, which are currently operating in the City, are “unaffected” by either the liquidation of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre or the administration of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions.
Two decisions on the award of large IT contracts are to be taken in public next week as the York Council takes its first tentative steps towards a more open approach. It is not the decisions themselves which have attracted attention but rather it is the justification offered for placing them before a public meeting.
The report states “that councillors consider routine
procurement decisions over £250k in value in line with procurement regulations
and the public have the opportunity to see transparent decision-making in
operation relating to major procurements.”
That is always supposed to have happened but some officials have
sought to exploit loopholes in the budget process to justify making implementation
decisions behind closed doors. Such “routine”
decisions must be reported to the responsible executive member in a “register”
This has not been done routinely in a transparent way.
It appears that the Executive are now insisting that proposals
are tabled individually. That is a step in the right direction.
The two decisions being made on 18th November relate
The meeting will also hear that the Council is scrapping a proposed joint procurement with Harrogate to appoint a technology provider.
Instead the current provider in York will continue until
summer 2020 with a new supplier, for managed network services, taking over
then. The Council current spends around £2 million per annum on this service.
Full marks to Cllr Nigel Ayre who is taking the first tentative steps towards making the Council more open and accountable
The Councils Executive committee will discuss the vexed question of highways maintenance next week.
If there is any basic public service likely to raise public ire, it is the number of potholes and cracks in roads and footpaths.
The conditions simply
reflect many years of under investment in maintenance work.
The new Council was elected on a manifesto which promised improvements.
They quickly moved to allocate an additional £1 million budget although half of
this was earmarked for new cycling and footpath projects.
The expectation was that the, all too obvious, major problems
would be quickly identified and a programme agreed for repairs. Anyone reading the
report will be very disappointed. There
is no refreshed list of roads that will be resurfaced this year.
Officials even plead for existing policies to continue.
Councillors have had long enough to get a list of repairs on
a ward by ward basis. With only 6 months to go in the current financial year, contracts
for these repairs needed to be issued quickly.
Ideally this should have been done before ice took a further
toll on the vulnerable surfaces of poorly maintained surfaces.
The report talks of an annual condition survey. The survey details
condition of every highway. All are graded between 1 and 5 with 5 being those in
worst condition. (Grade 1: very good, •
Grade 2: good, • Grade 3: fair, • Grade 4: poor, • Grade
5: very poor)
Over 13,000 stretches of highway are categorised as grade 5
That is little help.
A more detailed assessment is needed if the worst roads are
to be prioritised.
The list is available for download from “open data” click here It is unfortunately categorised by ward names which were superceded over 15 years ago.
Still we can say that streets like Foxwood Lane and School Street are amongst the worst in the City. The 50 year old potholed access roads to Spurr Court and Morrel Court are graded at 4 (poor). Footpaths in streets like Walton Place don’t even get a mention.
We hope that Councillors will ask some searching questions next
All is not as it should be with highway maintenance operations at the York Council.
No doubt the York Council would be criticised if it failed to keep residents informed about what goes on in the City and how the Council spends taxpayers money. Whether spending £10,000 on putting a magazine through everyone’s letterbox represents a prudent use of resources may divide opinion.
The current edition of “Our City” is tidier and therefore more accessible than previous editions. But it fails an important test.
It isn’t objective.
Telling people that things are going well when patently many street level public services in the City are far from that, transforms an information source into a propaganda channel.
There are major problems with keeping the streets tidy and free of weeds. The refuse collection service is now chronically unreliable. Many roads and paths are potholed. Some are dangerously obstructed by trees and hedges. These issues don’t merit a mention in “Our City”.
The Council does praise the hugely expensive community stadium project without telling people precisely when the stadium will come into use. Apparently the IMAX cinema (a plus for the City) will open in December but there is no explanation for the delays that have dogged the future home of York City FC and the York Knights Rugby team.
But the main concern will be the failure to be frank about the risks involved in some of its projects.
The Council is acting as its own housing developer and hopes to build 600 homes in the City over the next few years. It has recruited a significant number of additional staff to do so. It could have used local companies to undertake the work but chose not to. It is a high risk venture but, at the end of the day, in York any new homes will be occupied one way or another.
The same can’t be said about the £20 million Guildhall redevelopment. There is little evidence to suggest that a “business club” is needed in the City and even less that the York Council would be the best organisation to manage one.
The “Our City” article disingenuously talks of the project generating £848,000 a year in rents. It fails to point out that would involve renting out all the available space and that, even then, the income would be barely sufficient to pay the interest payments on the money that the Council intends to borrow to fund the scheme!
Sadly similar mistakes have been made in the past. £12 million was spent on the Barbican concert hall. The Council chose to manage that facility itself despite a complete lack of experience in the field. It later turned out that the hall manager had failed to apply for an entertainments licence for the building and had operated it unlawfully for several months. The Barbican ran at a loss of £800,000 a year and eventually had to be sold on to the private sector.
Whether anyone will come forward to rescue the Guildhall project remains to be seen.