Cycle path still blocked/Future of MUGA

Despite promises by Highways Yorkshire, the cycle path on the A64 slip road next to Pike Hills golf course remains obstructed, The overgrowth problem was reported in June. Shortly afterwards Highways Yorkshire (who are responsible for the path up to the junction with the A1036) tweeted to say that the whole path would be routinely freed of obstructions during July.

That has proved not to be the case.

Now the issue is set to be escalated to the local MP but this really shouldn’t be necessary. A team could clear the hazardous overgrowth (thorn branches) in just a couple of hours.

We hope that the issue is not left to volunteers to tackle. If the government is serious about encouraging sustainable transport – the the very least they should do is maintain existing paths in a useable condition.

UPDATE: Highways Yorkshire have tweeted to say that the path “is due to be cleared in the very near future”

We’ve also reported overgrowth near the cemetery and at the Tesco roundabout (York Council responsibility)

MUGA Mugged

Separately we have queried with Councillors representing the Westfield ward what the future of the former Multi User Games Area (MUGA) site off Kingsway West is. It was used as a building compound for a couple of years but was subsequently abandoned.

The expectation was the the area would be leveled and grassed over. At present it is a weed infested eyesore.

The Council mowers studiously avoid cutting the area. They stick religiously to a route outside the line of the MUGA fence (which was removed last year).

If the area isn’t to be maintained as grassland then there is scope for more tree and wildflower planting. Neglect shouldn’t be an option.

Sadly there is still no news of the promised replacement games area. An all-weather surface, to replace what was lost, was due to be provided at the Thanet Road Sports Area, but progress has been glacial.

Former MUGA site off Kingsway West

York joins regional search for foster carers

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City of York Council’s fostering team has joined forces with others across the Yorkshire and Humberside region to recruit new foster carers.

Councils across the region have teamed up to create a new ‘Foster4yourcouncil’ website, containing a host of information about fostering.

The site will be officially launched on Yorkshire Day – Sunday 1 August – to celebrate the work of foster carers across the region and the life changing impact they have on children’s lives. The partnership will also host online recruitment and celebration events.

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

Our foster carers are ordinary people doing the most extraordinary job. The stable and caring environment which they provide really does help to change the lives of local children and young people for the better.

“We hope to help raise the profile of foster carers and encourage others to come forward by joining forces with other councils across the region. Yorkshire Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of our carers and encourage others to join them.”

Foster parents across the area are backing the campaign and have spoken about how much fostering means to them.

Karen said:

I am always moved and amazed by the babies and children I have fostered: how they soon adapt, settle, learn to trust again and thrive within our family and friends.

“I can’t think of life before our foster girls came to live with us. They are our family now too and wouldn’t be without them.

“Although I love my role as a foster carer, I’m only as good as the team behind me and I couldn’t ask for any better support for us as a family than I have with the fostering team at City of York.”

Rachel said:

‘We love caring for young refugees – seeing them enjoy life, achieve and start to build hope for the future is fantastic after all that they’ve been through.

Each one of the young refugees we look after as foster carers teaches us something – we care for them and as they start to heal and achieve they encourage us.

Louise said:

Setting out on the journey of becoming foster carers can be a nervous time. However from starting the process with York we found it to be a very positive experience.

“Skills to Foster was a great insight into the laws, regulations, therapeutic parenting and safeguarding.  

“We have had lots of support from both our Supervising Social Worker and the Children’s Social Worker. There are also foster carer support groups where you can meet other carers.”

Bernadette said:

“As foster carers we are asked not only to provide for the day-to-day needs of the child, but carry them through the turmoil that their short lives have handed them so far.

To see a child blossom and thrive is the greatest gift you can receive. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Do it!”

City of York Council is always looking for new foster carers to help support children and young people in the city who aren’t able to live with their own families.  And fostering for City of York Council means that prospective foster carers can be sure they’ll be helping support local children.

Find out more about fostering in York on the council website, or from 1 August, visit the Foster for Your Council website and select the section on York. To contact our team, email

Chesney’s Field community pride project is bags of fun

Primary school pupils in York have been working with the police to spruce up their surroundings, as part of a project to encourage good citizenship and pride in their community.

Children picking rubbish

Youngsters from Hob Moor Primary have joined local Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to do weekly litter picks around Hob Moor nature reserve.

They have also considered ways to improve vandalised play equipment and reduce anti-social behaviour at Chesney Park in nearby Foxwood.

PCSO Laura Harper, school liaison officer in York, has been working with the children and said they have helped make the area more attractive for residents, young and old.

“The enthusiasm and pride in their community they’ve shown has been absolutely incredible,” said PCSO Harper.

“A number of residents have stopped myself and some of the students over the last few weeks, saying how nice it was to see us working together to make it a nicer area.

“While these improvements to the community are clear to see, projects like this also encourage children to develop a strong pride in their community that can last a lifetime.

“This, in turn, can lead to less antisocial behaviour and criminal damage in communities, which is a win-win for everyone who lives and works there.”

6,400 local children to take part in Walk to School Week 2021

20 of York’s primary schools are set to take part in Walk to School Week 2021, which runs from 14 to 28 June. This year the event includes activities taking place on Clean Air Day on 17 June.

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Locally, around 6,400 students from 20 different schools will get involved. The annual awareness-raising event aims to encourage children and their families to walk, cycle or scoot to and from school, rather than travelling by car. This year the event will have a particular focus on the impact of pollution on our health, encouraging families to make a sustainable change to improve local air quality near schools.

Coinciding with Walk to School Week this year is Clean Air Day on 17 June. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.  The World Health Organisation and the Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today.

Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues*. Clean Air day is being promoted through the council’s hard-hitting anti-idling campaign, Kick the Habit: which aims to to help tackle this problem in York

Residents of all ages can find out more about sustainable travel options by visiting 

More information on the ‘Kick the Habit’ campaign is available here 

York’s young people benefitting from Duke of Edinburgh scheme

Despite the challenges of Covid, lockdowns and national restrictions, the Duke of Edinburgh Award is flourishing.

Currently in York there are 661 young people doing Bronze, 323 Silver and 220 Gold participants. Last year 108 young people from across York successfully completing their Award, including over 3000 hours of volunteering in our local communities.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award offers young people an opportunity to get involved in charity and sporting activities, refining their skills and supporting their local communities. The Award is regarded highly and many young people in York choose to enrol at school. This month over 100 young people are starting their Bronze Award at Fulford School.

Over the last year the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has adapted to the new challenges, and young people are still giving up their time to develop themselves and support their community whilst demonstrating their determination and resilience.

Councillor Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education said: 

The last year has been an enormous challenge for all of us, and to see these young people still continue to work so hard and achieve so much is inspiring.

“This award is a testament to the incredible legacy to the Duke of Edinburgh which has given joy and support to so many young people.

“The awards offer fun, adventure and big challenges to anyone aged 14 to 24, and enhance the offering of activities from our schools and communities. We are proud to be part of this scheme, widely recognised as one of the world’s leading youth achievement schemes, and I applaud all those who’ve pushed their personal boundaries to earn their award.”

“In 2020 all our lives profoundly changed. Schools closed, activities stopped and young people felt isolated. For some, taking part in DofE has been an essential support when their lives have felt like they were crumbling. Over the last year we have been reminded of the value of connecting, communication and community. These incredible young people have chosen to spend their time in our community making a better world.”

When most people associate DofE with expeditions, this is just a small part of the DofE challenge. During the expeditions young people have to independently navigate a route through the countryside then camp and cook for themselves – whatever the weather. To complete their aware they must also have done months of voluntary work, physical activities and built up their skills in a chosen hobby. This combination helps make young people rounded, engaged and dedicated young citizens.

Whilst many of them faced problems where their chosen activities were cut short by covid restrictions, this didn’t stop them rising to the challenge.

Toby Eastaugh, Principal of Vale of York Academy, said:

“The Duke of Edinburgh Award runs in Year 10 and 11 at the Vale of York Academy and is held in high regard among students, staff and parents.

The award allows students to develop resilience, confidence, leadership and above all support their physical and mental well-being.

“Even though the pandemic has halted many things this year, we continue to work without young people on the award and have lots of plans to get students back out of the classroom next summer. As a Principal, it is very pleasing to see our students engaging in the award, a provision which supports our motto ‘Always giving the best”.

Examples of local activities
  • Alexus had been volunteering at his local library. Once lockdown started he became a really valuable friend and support to his Granddad. He not only tended his garden and helped with cleaning and care, he also taught his Granddad to use new technology so that he could keep in contact with the world at large.
  • Cyd switched her volunteering to helping an anxious family friend to relax by giving them on-line art tutorials.
  • Henry was a young leader at his local Scout Group for a year, helping with camps plus activities and badges.
  • Neve was tap dancing for her physical section. When she could no longer attend classes she continued to practice at home and still danced in a planned show – adapted to be online.
  • Luke, a keen club squash player could no longer play regularly, so switched to PE with Joe Wickes for his Physical activity.
  • Numerous young participants took over cooking family meals or doing challenging baking during lockdown for their skills. Many have spent time learning to play a new instrument, or honing their skills on one that they already played. When participants could no longer attend their usual clubs, they enrolled on online courses ranging from money management to robotics to develop a new skill.
  • Participant Jansen completed his Silver Expedition on the North Yorkshire Moors, developing teamwork and resilience.
  • Before the Covid restrictions Nicole was able to do her Gold Volunteering at Respite Centre. She assisted in a variety of tasks which included helping with mealtime assistance, accompany them on outings to places of interest, serving meals, supporting with daytime and evening activities.

£2.67m investment in specialist York schools

Two of York’s specialist schools could benefit from a £2.67m investment if plans are approved by City of York Council’s Executive later this month (20 May).

The Executive will be asked to approve plans for capital works at Applefields Special School, which supports secondary aged students, with a wide range of special educational needs; and Danesgate which is home to York’s Pupil Referral Unit and supports young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

The proposals recognise the continued rise in pupil numbers at Applefields over the last four years and a need to better support the needs of children and young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs at Danesgate.

Members will be asked to approve plans to approve works to adapt existing office and break out space into classrooms at Applefields, ready for the September 2021 intake. The proposals would enable the school to support the increasing number of young people with highly complex needs, such as those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), autism, and those with the highest level of social and emotional need.  

Phase 2 of the project would see the creation of essential administrative space and, if approved, would be completed by September 2022. The total value of the works is approximately £765,000. Remodelling and reorganisation of the site at Danesgate is needed to reflect the changing needs of the children and young people using the centre, with increasing numbers of pupils having communication and interaction needs.

The proposals also recognise the rising number of children and young people who are unable to attend school with their peers due to mental health needs and an increasing need to have more bespoke provision for many students who display anxieties, including specific intervention and break out spaces.

The proposed capital works at Danesgate would see the reconfiguration of the current buildings, to create smaller classrooms and breakout spaces, enabling the centre to meet the varied needs of pupils. The total cost of the proposed works is £1.9m.

Cllr Keith Orrell, the council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

We know that the number of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, including those with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs, across the city is continuing to increase. As a city committed to supporting all our residents, it’s important that we ensure that we are able to provide the right support to enable all our children and young people to fulfil their individual potential.

Carousel faces uncertain future in York

It seems that, once again, York’s traditional Carousel ride may struggle to find a pitch if coronavirus restrictions are eased next month.

The ride proved to be very popular before Christmas when it was located on Parliament Street.

So far, “Make it York” has failed to guarantee its traditional location on Kings Square where food stalls are being given priority.

There is adequate alternative space available on St Sampson’s Square and Parliament Street although, so far, Make it York has allocated the site near Marks and Spencer’s for use by a drinkers tent.

We think it would be a shame if this family attraction was ditched in favour of the alcohol economy.

“Make it York” should agree an appropriate site with the Carousel owners.

95.5% of children get their first choice of primary school in York

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Primary school admission figures for entry in September 2021 reveal that 95.5 per cent of York children (1,674 children) have been allocated their first preference of school.

This is an increase of just over one per cent on last year’s figures.

City of York Council’s figures published show that:

  • 99.5 per cent of pupils got one of their five preferences
  • all of the 143 pupils who applied for a place at York’s junior schools (from Year 3) got their first choice

Parents who applied online can find out where their child has been allocated a place by logging into their parent portal account today via

Parents who made written applications will receive a letter confirming their admission arrangements.

Anyone who didn’t receive their first choice of school will also receive written information.

School admissions figures

 We’ve provided this year’s and last year’s admission figures as a comparison.

Primary school figures 2021
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Primary school figures 2020
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Junior school figures 2021
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Junior school figures 2020
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The total size of the cohort starting school in September 2021 is 1,753 pupils, compared to 1,860 last year.

Nine pupils didn’t get any of their preferences. These were largely made up of parents or carers who did not apply for their child’s catchment school – despite being advised to do so – preferring instead to apply for schools a considerable distance from their home.

Councillor Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Education, Children and Young People, said:

I’m delighted that so many children will be able to attend their first choice of primary school this year. Starting primary school is such an exciting milestone. I wish all those starting a new school in September the very best of luck.

Any parent whose children may be eligible for free school meals – one of a number of benefits that come with applying for the pupil premium – should apply through their online account at

Appeal for witnesses following an assault in Westfield play park

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for witnesses and information about a assault that occurred in the park next to Westfield Primary Community School in Acomb.

It happened at approximately 5pm on Wednesday 7 April when two boys, aged 12 and 11 years-old , are believed to have been assaulted by a group of youths aged between about 12-16.

The two victims did not receive any injuries. We are requesting the public’s assistance to help establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for Peter Maw. You can also email

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 12210093469.

York families benefit from Easter holiday activity programme

Families across the city will have access to a holiday activity programme this Easter.

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The programme is being funded through the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), which provides healthy food and activities to targeted children.

The Easter sessions, which will be held at a number of schools in York, will be used as pilots, with plans to roll the scheme out to more children during the summer holidays.

Cllr Keith Orrell, City of York Council’s Executive member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “School holidays can be a difficult time for some families, particularly with increased food and childcare costs.

“The Easter break marks the first time York has received HAF funding and I hope that this will be the start of a much bigger programme of targeted, enriching activities and healthy food for children and young people, building on the fantastic work that is already taking place across the city.”

Children and young people who are eligible to take part in the programme will be contacted directly by their school.