Sign up to the Big Community Energy Switch

City of York Council is reminding residents to sign up to the Big Community Energy Switch by 2 February.

People will be joining together with over 170 other residents from York and 12,000 people from around the UK in the switch, that could help them save on average £169 on their gas and electricity bills.

The council and iChoosr held their first scheme between December 2013 and February 2014. A total of 751 York residents signed up, along with 36,000 people across the UK. Average annual savings for those York residents who switched was £169!

Supported by York’s Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK York – the Save Money by Switching Energy campaign launched in December 2013. The scheme enables York residents to register for the assisted scheme through these four easy steps that can result in them being offered potentially cheaper alternative tariffs to consider switching to.

1) Anyone who pays a household energy bill can register for free. Registration is easy – you just need a recent fuel bill or annual statement.

2) Registration closes on 2 February 2015. The council’s switching partner iChoosr then gathers everyone’s registrations together and invites all the energy companies to offer their best prices. This is all done by iChoosr. You don’t need to do anything.

3) The cheapest tariffs win! Residents will receive an with details on the new tariff secured by the scheme from 16 February. It will tell you how much money you could potentially save if you accept.

4) Residents have until 16 March to decide to accept the offer or not. There is no obligation to accept and there are no fees or charges. You simply get a new offer that could potentially save you money on your energy bills. If you choose not to take up the offer, you can always register again in future schemes.

If residents are unable to sign up to this round of the Big Community Energy Switch they can join the next round, which runs from 24 March until 18 May.

To find out more or to register go to If residents do not have access online please visit City of York Council’s customer service centre at West Offices or call us on 01904 551550.

Energy efficiency programme for private homes in York

A landmark programme for residents to implement energy efficiency measures in their homes has been agreed to bring over £20m of investment into the region and improve over 12,000 privately owned or rented homes.

The Better Homes programme brings together the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and nine Local Authorities in the Leeds City Region including City of York Council, with the private sector partners at KeepMoat and Willmott Dixon (KSW).

The new partnership will pool the expertise and resources from all partners to deliver a home energy offer to residents which could include new boilers, central heating systems, standard and hard to treat insulation measures and renewable energy systems.

In the first three years alone, the programme aims to deliver energy efficiency measures to over 12,000 homes including a minimum of 800 in York, and create jobs and apprenticeships for local people. As a result of these efficiency measures, the programme could bring £20m of investment into the Leeds City Region and increase the GVA growth.

To launch the scheme in York, KSW will offer 80 Green Deal communities fund vouchers, targeted at specific groups/neighbourhoods. The vouchers will help with the costs of installing measures and will be worth up to £750 per resident. In addition a private home will be retrofitted with up to £15k worth of funding energy efficiency measures and will become a demonstration show house.

Communities urged to sign up to Big Energy Race!

City of York Council is urging residents and community groups to sign up to the Big Energy Race which could see them win £20,000 towards a community project of their choice.

The Big Energy Race sees groups and individuals promote energy saving in their local community, which can help to make a real difference to peoples energy bills.Alongside the grand prize of £20,000 towards a community project there are also individual, team and regional prizes to be won. This provides plenty of opportunities for everyone involved to have their moment to shine.

Odour problem from Harewood Whin prompts action call

Burning compost blamed

Yorwaste entrance

Problems with a fire in the composting plant at Harewood Whin has been blamed for a continuing odour problem in parts of Acomb.

Although there were no signs of a fire today residents have contacted the Environment  Agency to complain about the problem.

Cllr Andrew Waller has been called in and has promised to find out the cause of the fire and what is being done to prevent a repetition.

Unfortunately YorWaste have not provided any updates on the problem on their website

The Theatre Royal and York’s other historic buildings

The proposal to sell the building that houses the Theatre Royal to the York Conservation Trust has raised some eyebrows in the City.  The main issue seems to be the proposed £1 valuation.

York Theatre Royal was built in 1744 on, and among, the site of the medieval St. Leonard’s Hospital. Immediate repairs (roof replacement) are estimated to cost around £320k with significant further works needed in coming years

Separately £4.1m is being spent on a programme of refurbishment and improvement

 The York Citizens Theatre Trust has a 25 year lease on the property at an annual rent of £27,250 with a 2 year rent free period during the refurbishment, It achieves a significantly higher proportion of earned income (around 75%) than similar theatres elsewhere and requires below average local authority funding in both the amount and proportion of turnover (around 7-8%). The Council provides a subsidy of around £250,000 a year to the theatre but has said that this will gradually reduce over the years.

Uniquely for a City the size of York, the Theatre Royal faces commercial competition from both the Barbican and the Grand Opera House


The Conservation Trust is a charity and was set up in 1976 as the successor to Morrell’s “Ings Property Company Ltd”. This company had been established by the Liberal supporting family in the 1940’s with the intention of securing York’s historic building heritage. It is run by Directors who are all related to the original family.

Together with the York Civic Trust, it can claim to be the principle reason why we are still able to enjoy a large number of, generally well conserved, old buildings. Another reason is, of course, that most are “Listed” meaning that they cannot be demolished and that any alterations are subject to restrictive conditions.

The York Council has also accepted over the years a responsibility to maintain buildings like the Mansion House and Guildhall. That sense of responsibility has been undermined recently, not least by the Labour group’s decision to spend £9.2 million converting the Guildhall buildings into a “media centre” (currently subject to a policy review “call in”).

The York Guilds – essentially craft based trades organisations – also take responsibility for maintaining three ancient halls in the City, with much of their income derived from private lettings and (high) membership fees.

Finding uses for buildings, which are expensive to maintain and heat, will always be difficult. Currently there are at least three historic buildings with a question mark about their future use.  St Anthony’s Hall (soon to be vacated by the Quilters Guild), St Williams College (where the Minster Trustees are seeking uses that could offset large repair bills) and the Guildhall.

The York Conservation Trust has already acquired two former Council owned buildings near to the Theatre (The Assembly Rooms and the De Grey Rooms).

While many York residents may feel, in an ideal world, such assets would remain in public ownership, the actions of the Council over the last 3 years is a reminder that public election does not automatically bestow either wisdom or financial acumen.

On the other hand, the negative side of large parts of the (former) public realm falling into the hands of a Charity – no matter how benign – is that public accountability all but disappears.

Residents of York will be dependant on the Charity Commission and the constraints of the planning system to ensure that the Trust continues to fulfil its founder’s altruistic aspirations.


Blackout raises concerns that VIP may get lost tonight


Andrew has been out and about reporting faulty street lights.

Amongst those found  not to be working, and causing problems for residents, are three at the Acomb Green/Askham Lane junction

  • Streetlight 13 The Green – bulb not working
  • Streetlight 14  The Green – no lamp attached
  • Streetlight 1 Askham Lane  – no lamp attached

Large numbers of elves are being deployed to ensure that there are no misrouting problems tonight!


Flood warning for York

A flood warning has been issued by the Environment Agency. River levels are not expected to increase to those encountered in 2012.

Click for access (commercial web site with advert)

Click for access (commercial web site with advert)

River Ouse web cam Click to access latest information

The best indicator remains the real time CCTV camera which records river levels on Kings Staith.

Click to access Environment Agency monitoring station data (central York)

Click to access Environment Agency monitoring station data (central York)

There is a significant risk If the top of the no entry sign disappears under water!

Detailed river levels can be found on the EA web site

 You can register here to receive flood warnings by phone, text or email.

Hedges still blocking footpaths

Continuing problems, with hedges blocking public footpaths, were raised by Andrew Waller at a recent Council meeting.

He asked how many reports the Council receives each year about footpaths being blocked and how long it takes to remedy problems.

Askham Lane hedge overgrown for four months

Askham Lane hedge overgrown for four months

Oldman Court path blocked since september

Oldman Court path blocked since September

He was told that “Council officers don’t currently keep records of the numbers of vegetation complaints and how they are progressing.

The estimated numbers are in the region of 500 to 600 per year mainly concentrated during the summer months.

When a complaint is made, if the address is given a letter is sent out asking the owner to rectify the situation. If the address is vague a site visit will normally be made next time someone is in the area and then a letter sent.

If no further complaints are made it is assumed that the problem has been put right. If a further complaint is made then a second letter is sent with a more formal instruction to put the situation right otherwise we (CYC) may carry out the works and recharge the costs to the owner. If there is no improvement then an instruction to cut the vegetation is issued and the cost recharged”.

We remain concerned that effective action hasn’t been taken to cut back hedges like the one adjacent to the field on Askham lane 9this has been trimmed on the road side by the Council in the past).

We are considering referring long outstanding problems for the attention of the Local Government Ombudsman

Foxwood Lane anti flooding measures near completion

Works to address flooding issues on Foxwood Lane

Works to address flooding issues on Foxwood Lane

Works are well underway to address flooding problems affecting some properties on Foxwood Lane.

One property has been empty for over a year as a result of water entering the building.

A few years ago the pumping station pumps failed and caused chaos on the street. Automatic alarms were later fitted at the pumping station to prevent a repetition of that problem.

The current works don’t increase the size of the main sewer pipe serving the area. Lack of drainage capacity effectively prevents any further building in the area

Communities urged to bid for money to set up renewable energy schemes

York residents and community groups are being urged to bid for a share of the £10m Urban Community Energy Fund.

The fund provides grants and loans to support urban communities, like York, to develop renewable energy projects.


Grants of up to £20,000 are available to help develop ideas into projects. The fund also will provide loans of up to £130,000 to develop projects through to the planning stages and to be in a position to attract funding to deliver the project.

The following groups are eligible to apply for the fund: (more…)