No way to treat a nature reserve

The wooded area next to the Grange Lane park is littered with rubbish again. The area is home to a wide selection of wildlife. It should be treated with more respect.

Ironically the park itself – often the source of complaints about litter in the past – is reasonably tidy at present.

We are now coming up to the second anniversary of our request to the Council to repaint the goals posts on the Westfield Park.

The Council is seemingly keen to encourage healthy living. The least it could do is keep sports facilitates in good condition

Westfield park

York residents urged to ‘help change a child’s life’ in 2019

City of York Council is urging local residents to help change a child’s life in 2019 by fostering.

With around 150 children and young people being supported by foster carers in York at any time, the authority is always looking for new foster carers to join the team.

Fostering involves looking after children in a safe and secure environment when they can’t live with their own families.

And as James Lee, from the council’s Fostering Team, explains, they’re not looking for just one type of carer:

“The children and young people who need our care are from a wide range of backgrounds and have very differing needs, so we need foster carers with different experiences and skills to help them. Many people consider fostering when their own children have left home and they have a bit more time and space, while others foster young people alongside their own children. If you have experience of living or working with children and young people, either in a work setting or at home, and think you might be able to help then please do get in touch.”

To find out more about how you can help local children by fostering call 01904 555678 or visit www.york.gov.uk/fostering

95.9 per cent of York children get a place at their first choice of primary school

Primary school admission figures for entry in September 2019 reveal that 95.9% per cent of York children have been given their first preference of school.

City of York Council’s figures published today (16 April 2019) show that 99.1% per cent of pupils got one of their first three preferences.

The percentage of online applications for primary school places has continued to increase, with 99% of parents and carers applying for their child’s school place online.

Parents who applied online will be notified of their child’s place by email at 10am today, letters are being posted today to parents and those with online accounts can log in to the council’s parent portal at www.york.gov.uk/parentportal.

In 2019 all children within the local authority area have secured a primary school place. The majority of children got one of their first three preferences; with the number of children whose preferences were not able to be met reducing from 11 in 2018 to 10 in 2019.

This year’s admissions figures, compared with last year’s are outlined below:

 20182019
 qty%qty%
1st182194.2%176295.9%
2nd924.8%563.0%
3rd80.4%40.2%
4th10.1%50.3%
5th00.0%00.0%
Other110.6%100.5%
Total1933100.0%1837100.0%
Applied Online182694.5%182999.6%

The total size of the cohort starting school in September 2019 is 1,836 pupils, compared to 1,933 last year.

Costs up on Council’s Ascot Way development plans

It looks like there are more problems ahead, as the York Council tries to let contracts to establish a new Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children (CEDC) and a major expansion of the Lincoln Court  independent living building.

A year ago, the Council said that it would need to invest £4.3 million in the CEDC. They later revised their budgets and agreed to borrow an additional £330,000 to fund the centre.

Centre of Excellence layout proposals

A £4.7 million contract was awarded in February to Sewell’s. It was said to cover work at both Windsor House and Lincoln Court.

Now papers released yesterday suggest that there may be a significant increase in the costs for the project. Officials are expected to make a case for extra investment at a meeting taking place on 18th June.  A note in the Councils Forward Programme says, “A value engineered exercise has been undertaken and further funds are required to ensure there is an adequate contingency. This needs to be done within this timeframe in order to meet the requirements of external health funding”.

The meeting will take place after the local elections in May so it is anyone’s guess what will now happen to the project.

A cost drift has also occurred on the Lincoln Court side of the project. Earlier this month officials admitted that the cost had soared from £1.9 million to £4.8 million.

The Lincoln Court project is still mired in controversy. The planning approval is being referred to the Secretary of State for consideration for calling in. The move stems from objections from local sports organisations and residents who want to see the existing all-weather play area moved to Thanet Road. The play area would be lost under the Council’s current proposals.

There are also concerns about access arrangements for the buildings both during building works and afterwards. A case has been made for a private (pedestrian) access to be made available to the adjacent school car park. So far, the Council has turned a blind eye to the suggestion, reinforcing concerns about traffic congestion and parking problems on Ascot Way

Both the CEDC and Lincoln Court modernisation have attracted widespread local support. It is a change that lack of attention to detail and poor consultation arrangements seem to be hindering progress.

New ‘Local Offer for care leavers’ launched in York

Young people in York who have left care and those preparing to leave care can now find out what help and support they’re eligible for at a glance thanks to the launch of a new ‘Local Offer for care leavers’.

City of York Council has launched the online document to make it easier for young people to access the help they’re entitled to, including a range of support with accommodation, education, training and employment, developing life skills, health, mental health, and relationships.

The local offer highlights the City of York’s aspirations for care leavers and
following changes nationally, care leavers can now access support until they are 25 years of age, compared to 21 previously.

The Local Offer for Care Leavers was written and designed in partnership with members of York’s care leavers’ forum;  ‘I Still Matter’.

Young care leavers from the group, said: “‘We think the Local Offer for Care Leavers is really important because it ensures that care leavers are aware of their rights and entitlements, and gives them the relevant information to be able to create their own futures, whilst knowing where to go for support and advice”.

For more information about the support available visit www.york.gov.uk/LeavingCare or email pathwayteam@york.gov.uk or call 01904 555389

Lincoln Court update

The Councils Executive discussed the planned extension of the Lincoln Court independent living building yesterday. They agreed to progress the scheme and included a requirement for an alternative all weather games area to be provided in the ward.

It will be up to the planning committee at its meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to include a condition requiring that the new facility is provided before the existing MUGA is demolished.

Windsor House is already being vandalised

It emerged at the meeting that 14 of the remaining 19 tenants have now accepted offers of alternative accommodation. When the remaining 5 will be offered, and accept, a suitable alternative remains in doubt. The adjacent Windsor House building, which is empty, is already suffering vandalism and there is a concern that the whole site could become a magnet for anti social behaviour.

Large delivery lorries are ruining roads in Lowfields. Similar concerns about Ascot Way

The Council is negotiating with the school to allow builders plant to access the site from the school side. There have been major problems getting large items of plant into the Lowfields site where roads are of a similar width to Ascot Way.

It has yet to be confirmed whether an (pedestrian) access will be retained from the school site when the redevelopment has been completed. This is considered to be essential to provide overflow parking capacity given that only 16 spaces are being provided on the Ascot Way frontage.

Large plant on Lowfields site. Working hours planning condition being breached?

Sadly members of the executive failed to probe why the new apartments have been described, in successive Planning Committee reports, as “extra care” units.

No doubt residents will get more clarification tomorrow

91.5 per cent of York pupils get their first choice of secondary school

Secondary school admission figures for entry in September 2019 have been published and City of York Council is pleased to announce that 91.5 per cent of York pupils have got their first preference.

The percentage of pupils allocated their first choice this year is 91.5 per cent having fallen slightly from last year’s 92.3 per cent; 97.6 per cent of children have been allocated one of their first three preferences, compared to 98.0 per cent last year.

The number of online applications for secondary school places has continued to increase and this year, 97.8 per cent applied online, that’s 0.8 per cent more than in 2018.

Parents who applied online will be notified of their child’s place by email at 10am today, letters are being posted today to parents and those with online accounts can log in to the council’s parent portal at www.york.gov.uk/parentportal.

With 3.9 per cent more pupils entering secondary schools this year than last year apply for their catchment school and were informed which school this was in writing. Some chose not to follow this advice.

This year’s admissions figures, compared with last year’s are outlined below:

 

2018

2019

 

qty

%

qty

%

1st

1740

92.3%

1794

91.5%

2nd

86

4.6%

97

4.9%

3rd

23

1.2%

21

1.1%

4th

4

0.2%

6

0.3%

5th

4

0.2%

6

0.3%

Other

29

1.5%

36

1.8%

Total

1886

100.0%

1960

100.0%

Applied Online

1829

97.0%

1917

97.8%

Besides parents being advised by letter, the Council will be posting advice and timelines offering advice and support throughout these ten days on social media @School_Services .

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 www.york.gov.uk/parentportal.

Sport England reaffirm their opposition to loss of Kingsway all weather play area

Could the Council fund an upgrade of the Thanet Road Sports area?

The future of the  all weather games (MUGA) provision in the Kingsway part of York remains unclear. Sport England – with the backing of local Netball and Football governing bodies – is insisting that, if the present facility is removed, then a similar provision must be made nearby.

In effect, Sport England have a veto over new developments if they involve the loss of sports fields. They can insist that a development application  is referred to the Secretary of Sate for a decision.

The Foxwood Residents Association has also voiced its concerns claiming that a fitness trail – planned by officials for Chesney’s Field  – would not meet the informal sports/leisure needs of the 8 – 13 age group.  Instead they urge that discussions take place with the Acorn Rugby Club aimed at funding improvements, and wider access, to the floodlit area that is already in place on the Thanet Road Sports area.

York Council officials are being particularly stubborn on this issue. It is putting at risk a plan to modernise the sheltered housing flats at Lincoln Court.

Some flexibility, urgency and imagination in addressing the issues now needs to be shown by both Councillors and officers at West Offices. 

Sport Englands representations can be read by clicking here

The  Residents Association comments can be read here

Planning updates – Lincoln Court and Lowfields

  • MUGA

    We understand that the Foxwood Residents Association have formally objected to the Councils plans to “replace” the children’s all-weather games area on Kingsway. The objection stems from the Councils proposal to build “fitness equipment” on Chesneys Field during the summer. The Association points out that no consultation has taken place over this proposal which could intensify the use of what is Public Open Space. When a similar idea was mooted 2 years ago, the preferred site for a fitness track was judged to be the Thanet Road Sports Area. The Association have suggested that the Council seek a partnership with the Acorn Rugby Club which could see a new 3G games area provided. Sport England have also objected to the Council’s plans

  • The Yorspace proposals for the Lowfields site have been criticised by the local Drainage Board. They are asking for further details of how surface water runoff will be handled. They point out the fact that – for the whole site –  water run off is likely to be more severe than occurs from the existing greenfield use. There are already some problems with flooding in the gardens of some properties in the Green Lane and Tudor Road area.
  • Separately the Lowfields Residents Group has objected to plans which would see the number of off street parking spaces reduced near 108 Tudor Road. They are also concerned about the traffic implications of building a new access road onto the Lowfields site

NB. The contract for “enabling works” at Lowfields was awarded to NMCN. It is valued at £260,000. The end date for the contract is 19th April 2019.