Acomb Bowling Club development plans recommended for approval

Westfield set to lose another area of green space

The report on this planning application has now been published (click)

It is recommended for approval.

The development, as it is presently proposed, is not in line with residents wishes as expressed in responses to a recent survey. They wanted to see a comprehensive plan for all the sites which lie to the rear of the Library.

There are two significant tissues.

  1. Planning officers claim that no discussions have taken place on the possible extension of the library. We don’t believe this is true The future of the “allotments” land, and also of that to the side of Chancery Court, must be determined together. They are inextricably linked.
  2. To offset the loss of open space on Front Street, officials are proposing a section 106 contribution to provide part of a bowling green at the York RI. This is located in the Holgate ward, about a mile from Front Street. While this may meet the need for bowling facilities (the site is already  green field sports pitch) it does nothing to help Westfield or to address the cumulative deficiency in green space provision in the ward. (It is almost as insensitive as the Councils decision to “relocate” the sports field from Lowfields to land near Bishopthorpe).

There is a very good argument to be made that the Front Street area needs more open space to accommodate the incremental increases in population that are occurring, not least as a result of commercial properties in the area being converted into residential accommodation.

This latest proposal just adds more pressures onto the rapidly diminishing areas of green space in the area.

The planning meeting is open to the public and takes place on Thursday 4th October at 4:30pm at West Offices. The planning committee will visit the site the previous day shortly after 10:00am.

Bootham Park Hospital

The future of the 240-year-old former mental hospital is under the spotlight as Ministers consider its future.

The building was taken out of service 4 years ago when a catalogue of defects were found by quality inspectors. These included rat infested cellars and collapsing ceilings.

The hospital was ordered to be closed in September 2015 when it was declared “unfit for purpose” A modern replacement facility is being provided.

The events surrounding the closure were heavily criticised in a York Council report which concluded that NHS Property Services “significantly underestimated the logistic and practical challenges of upgrading a Grade I listed building where shortcomings had been identified over many years”

Running costs on a building of this age are huge.  Energy and repair costs represent a constant drain on owners.

Now the local MP says the building should reopen as an NHS facility. She says “key workers in the health health sector” should be accommodated there.

Really? Offering valued employees pre-Victorian housing standards will move us forward in some way?There is only very limited scope to build on other brownfield sections of the site

No costings for the “plan” are offered much less any source of funding. We are assured though that the open space on the site will be retained as an additional public “park”.

Converting the listed building into residential accommodation would be very expensive even if it was in sound structure condition.

It isn’t.

Costs would be measured in  tens of millions. If such funding is available, then it is desperately needed to provide modern buildings for our ailing NHS.

Bootham Park is a valuable part of the heritage of the City. It’s Listed status means that it can’t be demolished. Planners could ensure that the parkland surrounding it is respected (although, in recent years, urban green space conservation hasn’t been the strong point of the York Council).

It is by no means certain that the private sector would want to acquire the hospital. The high modernisation costs would be the same for them as would ongoing running costs. Grade 1 listing means that only very limited physical changes could be undertaken.

But all options should be put on the table.

In the end, if a different use for the building is found, and this produces a substantial capital receipt for health providers in York, then this could most effectively be invested in modern facilities for patients and staff in the NHS.

And the local MP should stop posturing. She is too quick to blame developers of “luxury homes”, student flats and hotels for every challenge that faces the City.

Indeed, we would be in a pickle if developers did not want to invest in York.

Could you be a community health champion?

As part of a continuing effort to improve the health, wellbeing and happiness of residents, we are inviting citizens to become community health champions after the launch of the initiative last year.

We’re looking for community health champions who are passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of their community. Health champions will receive training and support from the council that will enable them to;

  • Empower residents to make healthier lifestyle choices such as increasing physical activity and healthy eating
  • Develop new health and wellbeing activities based on community need, such as physical activity sessions
  • Promote current health campaigns including ‘Public Health One You’ through local interactions with

The campaign has already proven to be a great way to engage members of the community and aims to create a more supportive environment for local residents. One day training for community health champions is taking place on 28 September and 26 October 2018.

So if you are enthusiastic and ready to make a positive difference within your community, contact Richard Croker on 01904 553516 or email Richard.Croker@york.gov.uk to book your place on the training.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “Being a community health champion includes learning new skills and using them to help make a difference in your community.

We are always aiming to improve health and wellbeing amongst communities across the city and found that the initiative was a great way to raise awareness. By having community health champions, residents are able to access advice and support to help them in their communities. Anyone interested in this opportunity is asked to call 01904 553377 to speak to the team for more advice and information.”

For more information on this opportunity visit: www.york.gov.uk/volunteeringopportunities, call 01904 553516 or email richard.croker@york.gov.uk.

Liberal Democrat’s look to end discrimination in mental health

The Liberal Democrats are calling for reform of the Mental Health Act in a move to remove discrimination in the UK’s mental health services and support our mental health services in York and across the country.

In a new policy passed at Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference, the Liberal Democrats are campaigning for:

    • Substantially more funding for mental health services to match the same levels of funding given to services that treat physical illnesses.
    • To give mental health services the same policy focus at Whitehall, as other health services currently receive.

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Figures show smoking will kill one in two – don’t be the 1, now is the time to quit

City of York Council is supporting a regional stop smoking campaign, don’t be the 1, and encouraging those that want to quit to contact the council’s YorWellbeing service.

The “Don’t Be The 1” campaign from Breathe 2025 highlights how one in two smokers[i] will die from a smoking related disease, some in their 40s and 50s and is asking smokers to quit for the sake of their family. These odds are infinitely greater than the reported risks of being hit by a bus (around two in a million) or the chance of becoming a millionaire on the National Lottery (around one in ten million).

Worryingly, surveys show nine out of ten smokers underestimate the one in two risk, with around half believing their risk to be one in ten or less.

As well as York, the don’t be the 1 campaign is running in Hull, East Riding, North Lincs, North East Lincs and North Yorkshire for four weeks.

For more information visit http://www.dontbethe1.tv/ , those who want to quit in York are asked to contact the council’s YorWellbeing service on 01904 553377 or email yorwellbeing@york.gov.uk

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “Smoking can have long lasting and devastating impacts on people’s health, which is why we have joined together with our partners and are supporting the don’t be the 1 campaign.

“In the run up to Stoptober there are more ways to quit than ever before and we are urging people to give it a go. Studies show you are more than four times more likely to quit with help. Our YorWellbeing service is there to help people quit and I would urge smokers who want to quit to get in touch.”

Dr Caroline Everett, Consultant Respiratory Physician, York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Stopping smoking is one of the single most effective things you can do to improve your health and life expectancy. Quitting smoking early can prevent the onset of many different life-limiting and life-threatening health conditions such as COPD, heart disease and cancer. However, it is never too late to give up.

“We also have lots of evidence from studies in many different conditions which show that, even once a smoking-related health condition has developed, people who quit live longer and with better health-status than those who continue to smoke.”

Another sports facility to close in Westfield?

Kingsway West all weather football pitch

Council officials are pressing for the neighbourhoods only Multi User Games Area (MUGA) to be permanently closed

The MUGA is located off Kingsway West and was provided at the same time as the Hob Moor school was rebuilt in 2004. It was hailed as one of the community facilities that the PFI funded new build school would unlock. It proved to be the only causal use facility provided on the campus, with other facilities like the nursery later closing.

Initially the MUGA was to have been located within the school perimeter fence. It would have been secured by caretaking staff when not in use. Following pressure from the PFI contractors the MUGA became a stand-alone facility accessible outside school hours.

It satisfied the demand for “kick about” facilities to the east of Gale Lane.

Initially it was successful with detached youth workers staging events there. However, the then Labour controlled Council shredded the youth service following budget cuts in 2013. The organised use of the MUGA ceased. Calls for the Ward Committee to fund events there failed to get off the ground.

An experiment in leaving the area open resulted in arson damage to the all-weather surface which was never repaired. The service access gate was also damaged and not reinstated by the Council.

It is now little used and often strewn with litter and detritus.

Council consultation card Sept 2018

Yet there is still a demand for play and sports facilities for use by children in the area. The nearest alternative is the Energise (Better) sports centre on Cornlands Road which is run on a commercial basis.

Typically the cost of hiring an all weather pitch for a match is around £50.

Now officials are consulting on replacing the MUGA with other structures. They suggest wooden climbing frames, tree planting and better lighting.

There is a demand for better play facilities in the area but not at the expense of existing sports facilities.

We have already seen the Our Lady’s sports field developed and more recently plans have been approved to build on the football pitch at Lowfields. The Hob Moor school playing field will be reduced in size and an application to build on the Acomb Bowling Green is being considered by the Council.

Officials promised that, as part of the Lowfields scheme, pitches on Chesney’s Field would be levelled and upgraded. But the football season* has started without any sign of improvement.

The Council acknowledge that there is already a deficiency in sports and green space provision in the Westfield area. The Councils own Local Plan identifies the existing shortfalls as 4.98 ha of outdoor sports facilities, 6.02 ha of children’s play and 2.86 ha of young persons facilities.

Life expectancy in the Westfield ward is lower than in other parts of York. This is partly put down to unhealthy lifestyles.

Council run consultation exercises were discredited by the Lowfields fiasco. Rather than asking people to record a vote in favour or in opposition to multiple options, the exercise depended on narrative responses.

These were easy to manipulate by official’s intent on justifying a particular outcome.

This must not happen again.

There is a demand for “off the streets” activities for young people. Facilities like the MUGA – if well maintained and promoted – can make a difference. The plans for the new children’s centre on Ascot Way could also unlock the potential for better play facilities for younger children.

But all age groups need to be catered for.

*NB. The Beagle FC beat Cawood 4-0 in their Chesney Field encounter on Saturday

York Council sports and open space need assessments

Health, care and housing plans for Bootham Hospital site

Public sector partners say that they will propose a sustainable and achievable development master plan for the Bootham Hospital site.

It will “support the longer term sustainable delivery of a range of service to meet health and social care need”s.

Using monies granted by the government under the One Public Estate programme, the partnership will prepare a Site Development Plan. This will examine the constraints and opportunities of the site and will involve extensive stakeholder and public engagement.

A schedule of public consultation is being planned for this autumn to focus on the future of the 240-year-old site – one of the UK’s first mental health hospitals.

The partnership has been working on plan for a number of months and it could include:

  • the development of a residential / nursing care facility to support earlier discharge and relieve pressures on acute care
  • a new primary care / GP base, bringing together practices into a single building and provide an urgent care centre and voluntary sector led space for carers and others who need support
  • affordable housing targeted to key worker to support NHS staffing
  • an extra care facility, particularly care for those living with dementia
  • improved access to the York Teaching Hospital for pedestrians, bikes, buses, taxis and ambulances; and
  • better use of the parkland at the front of the historic hospital building for sport, play and leisure

New source of community information urges residents to Live Well York

A new source of information and advice for adults and families in York is now available from community groups across the city.

City of York Council has worked alongside York CVS, Age UK, Explore York and Healthwatch York to create a growing source of high quality information and advice which promotes opportunities for residents to enjoy healthy, active and independent lives.

Live Well York supports the council’s commitment to early help and prevention, and to help people live independently and well. It has links provided by voluntary and community groups to information and advice on topics from travel, housing, carers, money and legal matters, while community activities and events are listed to encourage people to get involved with their community and combat isolation and loneliness.

Local people were involved in the development of the website and wanted a local artist to produce its signature artwork. York Museum and the Art Gallery Trust, through its Cultural Consortium for Wellbeing Service, commissioned the artwork and supported an event at York CVS. There, over 70 people took part in a collaborative event to inspire artist Stephen Lee Hodgkins. The resulting artwork features seven York community places which are among those hosting numerous projects and community opportunities which feature on the website.

Live Well York also links to the council’s new www.movemoreyork.co.uk for ideas and inspiration on keeping active, promoting physical wellbeing, activity and active travel. (more…)