New “pop up” shop opened by Lord Mayor in Coney Street

A new pop-up shop was opened today  in York, occupying one of the empty premises in Coney Street.

The pop-up, which was officially opened by The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Keith Orrell, is the latest expansion from Fabrication Crafts Ltd, a social enterprise originally based in Leeds that aims to provide skilled craft people with a place to sell their work.

The store will sell locally made products created by talented crafts people from both York and Leeds. Items will include clothing, home ware, furniture and food, as well as the option to order bespoke items.

Established in 2008, Fabrication works with a number of community organisations including Yorkshire Federated Housing’s Passion4Fashion project. The pop-up shop on Coney Street will remain open throughout the festive season until February.

The shop is being run in partnership with the National Trust, in an attempt to tackle empty properties across the country owned by the body, which may struggle to find tenants due to their listed statuses.

This particular Grade II listed Coney Street building was originally built in the 1600s before being remodelled in the 20th century.
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York apprentice of the year winner works for Minster FM

Apprentices from across York graduated on Tuesday 27 November at the eighth annual apprenticeship awards ceremony at the Grand Opera House.

York Apprentice of the Year 2018  Under 25 (Smaller Employer) is Natasha Palmer – Digital Content Apprentice at Minster FM and has completed an Advanced Level 3 Digital Marketing qualification with 3aaas

After receiving the award, Natasha said:  “I was thrilled to be nominated for this award and I am astounded that I won, as the standard of all the nominees was amazing. I have an incredible time working at Minster FM, they give me so many opportunities and are so supportive. I am already working towards my Level 4 Qualification and I cannot thank Minster FM and my tutor Rebecca enough. Choosing an apprenticeship has been one of the best decisions of my life and I cannot recommend it enough.”

York Apprentice of the Year 2018  Under 25 (Larger Employer)  was Calum Finn – Process Engineering Apprentice at Nestlé and has completed an Advanced Electrical & Mechanical Engineering qualification with York College

Apprentices received scrolls from The Guilds of York for completing their apprenticeship training and qualifications and proudly walked across the stage to loud applause from the 300 strong audience of family, friends and employers.

The ceremony included inspirational key note speeches from FERA Science Ltd, winner of the York Large Employer of the Year 2017. Laura Faulkner, Assistant Scientist and Apprentice Graduate 2017 talked about her on-going career journey towards a degree apprenticeship with York St John University and Andrew Swift, CEX, talked about the importance of attracting, developing and retaining talent to support the growth of FERA.

Following the presentation of the scrolls, the ceremony moved on to the prestigious York Apprenticeship Awards which recognise the outstanding qualities, achievements, commitment and progression of both individual apprentices and their employers.

Winners for the five categories were selected by the independent panel following a high number of quality nominations.

A full list of award winners can be viewed by clicking here

Post Office clarifies Lendal Post Office transfer plans.

Lendal Post Office

We reported earlier in the week that some of the documents issued by the Post Office were unclear about what services would be transferred from Lendal to their new branch in Coney Street.

They have written back to provide some clarification.

I hope it will be helpful to explain that the vast majority of products and services available in a Directly Managed Branch will transfer to a franchise with the exception of The UK Visa and Immigration Biometric Enrolment Service for the Home Office.  This service is currently available nationwide by agreement with the Home Office and is provided through a mix of directly managed and WHSmith’s branch locations. 

The Home Office recently awarded a new contract for this service to another supplier and it has been announced that our role in this is coming to an end in November, although we are discussing supporting the Home Office until March 2019”.

The Home Office is understood to have issued a contract to an on line supplier.

WHSmith

The Post Office has not provided any quality of service stats for the Lendal branch.

Nor will they reveal the target “queue waiting times “for the new branch which they hope to open in the WHSmith’s premises.

We think that the quality of  customer services should be a key factor in making any decision about moving public service access points.

A little more transparency wouldn’t be amiss although the move to 7 days a week opening will be a step forward.

Residents wishing to comment on the plans should click here to fill out the Post Office survey

Bid to bring empty Coney Street shop back into use. Lord Mayor of York opens local “pop-up” shop on Friday

Coney Street, York

The pop-up, which will be officially opened by The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Keith Orrell, is the latest expansion from Fabrication Crafts Ltd, a social enterprise originally based in Leeds that aims to provide skilled craft people with a place to sell their work.

The store will sell locally made products created by talented crafts people from both York and Leeds. Items will include clothing, home ware, furniture and food, as well as the option to order bespoke items.

Established in 2008, Fabrication works with a number of community organisations including Yorkshire Federated Housing’s Passion4Fashion project. The pop-up shop on Coney Street will remain open throughout the festive season until February.

The shop is being run in partnership with the National Trust, in an attempt to tackle empty properties across the country owned by the body, which may struggle to find tenants due to their listed statuses.

This particular Grade II listed Coney Street building was originally built in the 1600s before being remodelled in the 20th century.

David Morgan, General Manager for the National Trust in York, said: “This building is one of the oldest in York and formed part of the estate of Frank Green, who gave Treasurer’s House to the National Trust.

Cllr Keith Orrell

“All rental income from our commercial properties helps to support the beautiful York gardens and houses in our care and we are really pleased to see the building come to life once more with a community focused brand such as Fabrication.”

The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Keith Orrell, said: “It’s great to be able to open this new venture for Fabrication, especially in the heart of York.

“It is very important that we support local business and continue to work in partnership with the National Trust, who have helped us preserve this historic estate.”

Closure of Lendal Post Office gets mixed response

A local MPs reaction, to news that Post-Office services will be transferred about 200 metres to a site within W H Smiths on Coney Street, has provoked a mixed reaction. A photo of a local Councillor giving the clench fist salute at an anti-Post Office street rally, raised concerns that this might be the precursor to barricades being erected in the streets, accompanied by loud singing of the “Internationale”

The MP was pictured pasting a “protestcard” in a dummy pillar box (apparently oblivious to the fact the Royal Mail has been a separate business for many years).

But she may have a point.

The Post Office’s “on line” consultation seems to be less than transparent. It refers to the introduction of 7 day a week services at the new site (good) but singularly fails to say what services will be provided there.

Lendal Post Office

It merely says

 “A wide range of services would still be available at the (new) branch”.

So not all services will transfer then?

We have written to the Post Office asking them to clarify which services, currently provided at the Lendal office, will not be available at the Smiths branch, and where the nearest alternative customer access point is located?

Without this information, customers can’t possibly respond to the Post Office questionnaire which asks whether people will be inconvenienced by the move.

We have also asked the Post Office to provide quality of service stats for their present Lendal operation.

For example, mean and maximum queuing times?

We think that the Post Office should also publish customer quality of service targets for any new branch.

WHSmith

If they don’t provide more information, then we may have to look out an old songbook.

How does it go,

This is our final and decisive battle;
With the Internationale humanity will rise up!

..although possibly, being York, that might only involve a slightly heated exchange on “twitter”?

A Big, Big, £155 million decision for York Council next week

Councillors are rarely asked to make more far reaching decisions than the one they will have to take, about the future of the York Central site, next week. They will approve a £155 million budget to fund “abnormal infrastructure costs” with £45 million of it coming from Council resources. Of this, an additional £35 million will be borrowed.

The Council has already spent £5.4 million of its existing £10 million York Central budget.

The Council hopes to recover its investment through increased business rates payments generated by the new commercial premises that will be built on the site. It is unclear how national government policy may develop on business rate discounts and planning exemptions for those occupying properties in Enterprise Zones.

The abnormal costs arise from a new access bridge, highway cycle and pedestrian routes into and through the site, a new station entrance, a 5.5 ha park, 3 public squares with enabling ground works, site clearance, remediation and utilities supply.

York Central Partnership (YCP) is a partnership of landowning bodies on the York Central site and is comprised of Network Rail, Homes England National Railway Museum and CYC. Over the last 3 years YCP have developed a comprehensive masterplan for the 72 ha site and are currently awaiting the determination of an outline planning application for the 45ha main site to the west of the railway station, which will deliver up to 112,000 sq. m of commercial space and up to 2500 homes as well as a large park, public squares and an expanded Railway Museum (over a net developable area of c25ha).

A report to Councillors says, “This abnormal enabling infrastructure cost of £155m means that without significant public funding the site is simply not viable and the compound risks of preparing the site for development are not likely to be acceptable to the market. It is therefore proposed that the YCP, having undertaken the enablement and funded the work to date, continue to take the role of infrastructure deliverer for the first phase of infrastructure (CYC) and master developer (NR and Homes England as the predominant land owners on the site), in order to de-risk the project and bring it within viable financial parameters. 

Through doing this, the partnership will also exert influence over the timing, nature and quality of development, to optimise fit with policy and corporate objectives whilst respecting the important relationships with local communities, the rest of the city and the historic setting of the site”.

The Council would recover its investment from additional Business Rate income generated by the site. The report forecasts that there could be a maximum cumulative risk to taxpayers of £11.4 million if commercial development is “slow” on the development.

No estimate has been given on the additional annual revenue costs for the Council as the site occupiers start to use public services (e.g. waste collection, lighting etc.) in the City.

The developers do not, at present, have an identified core tenant for the office units.

It is hoped that some residential units on the site may be marketed as early as next year. It is likely to be 2021 before the access roads and bridges are completed.

Any decision by the Council to commit to the expenditure next week will once again mean that there are potential conflicts of interest between the authority as an investor and in  its role as an “independent” planning authority.

The Councils record on impartially determining applications in which it has a financial interest (e.g. Lowfields) has been disappointing in recent years

NB. Figures being reported to the same meeting next week reveal that the York Council will – before taking on the above debt – owe £213.1 million. This will increase to £314.2 million by 2022. By the same date, 18% of council tax payments will be used just to to pay interest and principal repayment charges on Council borrowing.

York Apprenticeship Graduation and Awards Ceremony: final call to graduate

Apprentices from across York will be graduating at the eighth York Apprenticeship Graduation and Awards Ceremony on 27 November 2018) co-ordinated by City of York Council’s Skills Team.

The event will celebrate the achievements of young people and adults who have successfully completed their apprenticeship qualification and training. They will all receive a certificate presented by The York Guilds.

A total of 23 young people, adults and employers are also in the running for the 2018 York Apprenticeship Awards, which will be presented on the same night at the Grand Opera House.

A panel of independent judges have whittled down the shortlist for five categories:

  • Apprentice of the Year Under 25 (Small Employer).
  • Apprentice of the Year Under 25 (Large Employer).
  • Apprentice of the Year Over 25.
  • Assessor of the Year
  • Employer of the Year

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Councillor calls for meeting on York’s last tax office

Following the recent news that the HMRC will be closing York’s last tax office and relocating staff to Leeds, Cllr Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the Council, has requested a meeting with the HMRC to discuss the possibility of retaining a base in the city.

In a letter to HMRC’s First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, Cllr Waller has asked the HMRC to explore further options in retaining the York tax office and the associated jobs.

Should the HMRC continue as planned, Cllr Waller has also sought reassurances of support to those staff that might be unable to transfer to Leeds, should the office close as planned.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the Council, commented:

“It is disappointing to see that HMRC will be closing the last tax office in York and that public sector jobs will be transferred away from the city”

“That is why I have written to the First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of HMRC to ask that they reconsider these proposals and explore further options to retain a tax office here in York for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

“The staff affected should be supported should they be unable to transfer to Leeds and I have sought assurances to this effect.”

New Channel 4 HQ to be in Leeds City Region (maybe just Leeds)

Local politicians estimate that siting the HQ in Leeds “will bring 1,285 jobs and £1.2bn to the area over 10 years”.

Channel 4 announced its 4 All the UK strategy in March 2018, “the biggest change to the structure of the organisation in its 35-year history. At the heart of it is a significant increase in the organisation’s Nations and Regions content spend – from 35% to 50% of main channel UK commissions by 2023, worth up to £250m more in total. 

This increase in Channel 4’s spend will benefit all areas of the UK, not just the specific locations and will support up to 3,000 production jobs in the Nations and Regions economy.

The new National HQ and Creative Hubs will be home to 300 Channel 4 jobs when fully established, including key creative decision makers – responsible for commissioning Channel 4 content and programmes from producers right across the UK.

“Naked Attraction” from Channel 4

The new bases are at the heart of a new plan ‘4 All the UK’ to ensure that Channel 4 better represents all the UK, on and off-screen – and they will help catalyse the increased Nations and Regions production spend”.

Channel 4 programmes have attracted controversy in the past with some saying that they are dumbing down TV content. Currently they’re screening “Naked Attraction” a show where contestants select a potential partner based solely on their nude appearance.

The York Councils Chief Executive has said today, “The possibilities this will bring to York and the surrounding region ……are surely endless.”

In fairness Channel 4 also has a reputation for cutting edge film, drama and documentary work.

Quite how much of the promised economic growth will reach York – which already has full employment levels – remains to be seen.