Universal Credit and its impact in York – Call for Evidence

Later this year, a Council report regarding the impact of Universal Credit and it’s rollout in York will be presented to the Executive Member for Adult Social Care.  As part of this, the Liberal Democrats would like to hear from residents about their experiences of accessing Universal Credit.

The report, due to be presented on the 14th June 2018, will be given to Cllr Carol Runciman to consider as part of her responsibilities to review financial inclusion in York.

Given the controversial nature of Universal Credit and the difficulties some residents have had using the service; the Liberal Democrats are keen to ensure residents in York have their experiences included as part of the report, so it is truly reflective of the current situation.

If a resident would like to share their experience of Universal Credit in York, then please do contact Cllr Carol Runciman at cllr.crunciman@york.gov.uk to make sure your observations are included.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said:

“The rollout of Universal Credit has caused a great deal of stress for many residents across the City.”

“It is absolutely vital that the Council considers the impact of Universal Credit in York and listens to the experiences of residents using the system.”

“I would strongly encourage anyone who accesses Universal Credit to share with their experiences me and ensure that their voices are included as part of this report.”

Free school meals

The Tory government is repealing the free school meal legislation introduced by the last coalition government.

New regulations published this week indicate that a child will only receive a free mid day meal if his or her parents are in receipt of Universal Credit and earn less that £617 a month.

The new rules come into effect on 1st April 2018

Several families in York are expected to be hit hard by the new cut.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/148/pdfs/uksi_20180148_en.pdf

 

Plans for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children revealed.

Ascot Way proposals generally welcomed

The plans to establish a new centre for disabled children on the former Windsor House site on Ascot Way were generally welcomed at a public meeting held on Monday. The plans will now be discussed at a Council Executive meeting next week

The Council says that the new building will be the setting for a range of support services which will enable disabled children to remain in their families and in their community, delivered from a safe, accessible space

  • Flexible short break provision to meet the needs of children and young people with Autism, Learning Disabilities and/or additional health needs.
  • Family Intervention Rapid Support Team (FIRST) and Therapeutic Short Breaks a specialist Clinical Psychology led intensive assessment and intervention service for families with children and young people who have Autism and Learning Disability and challenging behaviour which affects their ability to live in the local community

The facility will be linked to Hob Moor Oaks special school. Disabled children will be able to walk to the new provision after school, instead of being transported across the city on minibuses. Part of the playing field of the school will be used for the project.

The buildig will replace the facilities currently provided at The Glen.

The scheme is imaginative and worthy of support. However, the proposal to retain the front entrance (and therefore vehicular access) via Ascot Way is controversial. There are already congestion and parking problems in the area. An access, with car parking,  via Hob Moor school would address this issue, while offering the opportunity to provide better accessibility for Lincoln Court.

The detailed plans also suggest that an outdoor play area be provided adjacent to Lincoln Court. While many older people like to feel involved in the local community, inevitably playgrounds can be noisy places. We think that the location of this part of the facility should be reconsidered.

Residents will hope that any building work on the project will not take place at the same time as the threatened development of the Newbury Avenue garage site.

Illustrations of what is proposed are reproduced below

Public meeting to discuss future of Windsor House site

Plans for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children

Windsor House which would be demolished under the plans

Residents are being invited to give their views at a Westfield ward meeting being held on 15th January 2018. The meeting is being held at Hob Moor school with the Windsor House item being discussed from 7:30pm

No details are given of access arrangements. There are concerns that any intensification of the use of the Windsor House site on Ascot Way, would exacerbate traffic congestion and parking problems in the area.

A decision on whether to proceed with the centre idea is due to be taken at a Council executive meeting being held on 25th January 2018

A special website gives more details of the disability centre plans.

Disability Centre of Excellence Monthly Updates

What we have done

  • Final feasibility design, layout and site options have been presented by Gilling Dod Architects to a group of key staff, managers, parent / carers and partner agencies.
  • A potential land option for the Centre of Excellence has been agreed by Council Executive in December. This is the site of Windsor House Older Person Accommodation, which is planned to close. This land is adjacent to the Hob Moor Oaks Special School playing fields. Discussions are taking place with Hob Moor Federation of Schools about co locating part of the new provision and its outdoor amenities and space on some of the surplus playing field land.
  • A report is being prepared for the Council Executive meeting on 25th January 2018. This report will ask Elected Members to commit the capital needed to build a Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their families and seek agreement for the preferred site layout
  • The report also contains information about how staffing roles and structures will develop in the future in order to deliver a new way of working within a Centre of Excellence.

What we plan to do next

  • We will communicate the decision following the meeting on 25th January to parent /carers, staff and partner agencies.
  • If there is agreement to progress the project to an implementation phase, we will continue to adopt a co production approach of involving parent /carer, staff, children and young people and partner agencies in each stage of the future development.
  • Finally, hope you all have a great Christmas and new year. Thank you all for your time, energy, enthusiasm, ideas and input that has helped shape and develop this project to the stage we are at now.

 How you can be involved

Please send ideas, questions, feedback to feasibility@york.gov.uk

For more information please contact william.shaw@york.gov.uk

Keep checking web pages for the latest information and areas that we are working on that we want feedback on

Liberal Democrats seek funding commitments for Children & Young People in York

In a motion put to full Council on the 14th December, Liberal Democrats are calling on the Council to stand up to the Government and insist the Secretary of State reconsider York’s abysmal school funding position.

Under the new Schools National Funding Formula, the Government is imposing real term cuts on schools by freezing per-pupil funding, while inflation and school costs, such as staff salary costs, employer pension and national insurance contributions, increase; affecting all schools and academies in the process.

York has historically been the lowest funded local authority area, in terms of school funding, in the Country and with the Government’s new proposals, is set to remain the lowest funded.

Furthermore, York Liberal Democrats are also seeking assurances that the Council will maintain funding levels to the City’s Youth Council, which has worked tirelessly to campaign for young people in York.

Cllr Ashley Mason said: (more…)

Directory to help find York’s community sports clubs

As part of work to increase levels of physical activity across the city, City of York Council has produced a directory of York’s community sports clubs.

The directory includes information and contact details for 115 voluntary sports clubs in the city offering a range of sporting and physical activity opportunities from angling to walking.

There is something for everyone with activities for all ages and abilities seven days a week, all-year round.

5,000 copies have been printed and are being distributed to schools, libraries and community centres across the city. The guide is also available to view online at www.york.gov.uk/communitysportsclubs.

 

In addition to this directory, the council’s Yorwellbeing service also offers support to local sports clubs through the Yorwellbeing club development offer. The service offers support on a variety of areas such as; funding applications, national governing body accreditations, facility development projects and community engagement.

For more information on the sports club directory or the club development offer please contact yorwellbeing@york.gov.uk or call 01904 553377.

Clubs who aren’t included within this year’s edition of the directory are asked to get in touch with the Yorwellbeing service so they can be incorporated into future publications.

Future of Windsor House site being discussed

Proposal for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children

Windsor House

A report is being discussed next week which is expected to result in confirmation of plans to close the Windsor House elderly persons home on Ascot Way. The proposal was first discussed in September and now Council officials are reporting back on the discussions that they have had with residents, their relations and staff.

5 residents have recently moved out leaving 17 to find new homes. The Council says that there is currently a good supply of alternative accommodation options available including Glen Lodge.

The care home has 33 staff in total, the majority of who work part time.

The main criticism of the closure relates to timing. Promised modern elderly care facilities on the west of the City will not be available for 2 or 3 years.

Lincoln Court

Hedges blocked view and light from Lincoln Court flats in the summer

Considerable concerns have been expressed by residents of the adjacent Lincoln Court sheltered development.

These self-contained flats which include some communal space, are not included in the closure plans. However, the building has been allowed to deteriorate recently. Window frames are rotten, while an ongoing criticism has been about poor management of parking facilities.  Some boundary hedges weren’t cut in the summer, effectively isolated the elderly residents from the rest of the community.

York must do better in the way that it treats its tenants at Lincoln Court. They need to be given

assurances about the future of their flats as well as a date when modernisation works will commence.

The future of the Windsor Garth site

The Council has unveiled what seems to be a caring and imagination use for the Ascot Way site when the existing buildings have been demolished.

The report describes a possible state of the art facility for disabled children

 

“Should Windsor House close, the site could be redeveloped as the location for the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their Families, for housing or sold.”

Just as society doesn’t always treat the elderly as well as it should, the same could be said of people with disabilities. The principle of the proposed facility would therefore be welcome.

However, there are two significant issues to be addressed before any further development is considered in this neighbourhood.

Traffic congestion and lack of off street parking are now major problems.

They have worsened since 66 additional homes were built on the Hob Stones site and were exacerbated by the Council decision not to let the garages in Newbury Avenue pending the redevelopment of that site. The two issues are linked with inadequate “on street” parking space making access difficult even for the bus service.

There have been calls to introduce a “one way” system or even reopen the second access from Kingsway West.

Whatever the solution may be, one must be found before any development takes place which could further increase vehicle movements in the area.

Now Drainage Board highlights Lowfields playing field development issues

click to view complete letter

According to the “Save Lowfields Playing Field Action Groups Facebook page the Ainsty Internal Drainage Board is unhappy with the Council’s plans to develop the playing field.

The Drainage Board comments come a few days after Sport England recorded a formal (holding) objection to the plans. Sport England say that the Council proposed alternative football pitch location (Sim Balk Lane) is unconvincing with any facility there likely to be used mainly by Bishopthorpe.

Lowfields Green – a candidate for the least imaginative architecture award?

Concerns about water run off rates, from what is currently a self draining grassed field, are not unexpected.

A glace at the Council unimaginative serried rows of new houses (see left) as well as offering little streetscape relief, have minimal green space provision.

Sport England objection

Hard surfaces increase water run off rates and neighbouring properties could be adversley affected.

Hopefully the Council will now withdraw its proposals and come with something that not only increases the availability of homes in the area but also addresses some endemic failings.

Not least amongst these are the lack of open space and sports pitches in the Westfield ward.

One of the consequences of poor leisure and other public services is that life expectancy in the area is significantly below the Citywide average

 

Liberal Democrat Councillor supporting young people’s voice across Yorkshire and the Humber

Ashley Mason with Members of Youth Parliament and Youth Council Leads from across Yorkshire and the Humber

Liberal Democrat and City of York Councillor, Ashley Mason, is taking a regional role to champion the voice of over 500,000 young people in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Cllr Mason, who has a track record in supporting the York Youth Council, has been supporting the regional Youth Work Unit to ensure young people have access to information and resources, in order to enable them to have their say in local and regional decision-making.

Cllr Mason is now working to create an online digital platform for all young people to access. It will contain useful information on how decisions are made, which bodies are responsible for services and what the role is of their elected representatives.

On Saturday the 18th November, Councillor Mason met with 12 young people, from respective Local Authorities, to discuss the creation of a possible digital platform. The discussion included Members of Youth Parliament and Youth Council from: Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, York, Doncaster, North Yorkshire, Rotherham, Barnsley and North East Lincolnshire.

Cllr Ashley Mason said:

“It was great to discuss my plans with these highly engaged and passionate young people. It was abundantly clear that there is a lot of disparity across the 12 local authorities, in regards to engagement and access to information. This new resource will help any young person wanting to learn more about organisations such as Councils and CCGs and in turn, help them influence the decisions that affect young people in their communities.

Cllr Mason added “I have given up a lot of my time to this project work; championing the voices of young people is something I feel very passionate about. It is so encouraging to have the full support of the young people I have spoken too and to hear what impact this could have. I am also very grateful to the Regional Youth Work Unit, who are equally as enthusiastic about this project as I am,”

The website is intended to be launched at the Young Peoples Convention in Northallerton, January 2018. The project is currently being self-financed by Cllr Mason, but anyone interested in supporting or contributing to this valuable project should email cllr.amason@york.gov.uk

Brighter futures for children in care in York

Employee volunteering charity York Cares and the council have been working together on a project to help young people in care acquire the skills and experience to prepare them for their next steps.

Called Bright Futures, this ongoing joint project aims to help those aged between 11 and 18 by matching them with employers from across the city who can offer taster days, behind the scenes visits and skills workshops.

This week of opportunities took place ahead of activities run around the tenth national Takeover Challenge which this year will run from 24 November 2017. The Challenge involves organisations across England opening their doors to children and young people and letting them take over adult roles.

York Cares works with many of the city’s leading employers several of whom, over the course of the Bright Futures week, delivered activities to young people in care in Years 7 to 13. Many different sectors were showcased by employers throughout the week from construction to performing arts giving young people an insight into a range of careers.

Activities that have taken place included building firm Evora offering a young person an insight into architecture and setting them the challenge to design their own house. A group of young people took to the bikes at York Sport Village and learnt about the range of roles available within the leisure industry. Young people also visited York Theatre Royal, Askham Bryan College, Portakabin, and The Dormouse pub which have all given young people a taster of what they could expect from working there.

After one activity, a young person said, “I will probably come back here and apply for a job!” demonstrating how inspiring activities with employers can be for young people thinking about their futures.
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