York Council agonises over targets for “Make it York”

Coney Street decline

The Make it York organisation – which is owned by the York Council – will once again have only soft targets set for it this year.

A meeting will take place on 23rd July at which a Service Level Agreement will be agreed between the organisation and the Council. Once again though few numerical targets are included in the documentation.

There is still no mention of customer satisfaction measures.

Volume information is largely missing as are speed stats.

Narrative reports are promised  but without objective measures these are largely opinion based.

The Council currently contributes £299,000 a year to the organisation. It is responsible for economic strategy, business support, tourism and the Shambles market. It is the lead agency for cultural promotion. It claims credit for the success of the recent “Bloom” festival.

It has been criticised in the past for being very City centre orientated despite which it has failed to arrest the decline in shopping areas like Coney Street.

Its management processes remain largely opaque.

 

 

Local business support company set to fold

A successor to the  Business Link organisation which provided support for companies throughout North Yorkshire is set to fold.

It was renamed YNY Ltd a few years ago but has declined in significance as Local Enterprise Partnerships began to grow.

At one point Business Link Yorkshire had employed over 400 people.

YNY had a turn over of only a few hundred pounds when its last annual accounts were published. It has no staff and no identified capital assets.

The York Council is set to formally resign from the organisation in July

July decision day for Front Street investment

Front Street

According to the Councils latest forward programme, proposals to improve the Front Street area will be considered at a meeting taking place on 3rd July.

The report follows on from earlier decisions on how the Councils available investment budget would be allocated.

One of the decisions was to allocate £100,000 to be spent on regenerating the Front Street and Haxby shopping areas.

At the time, the allocation was criticised as being too small to make much difference.

Last year, residents were consulted about how they would like to see the shopping area upgraded.

The most popular improvement was a proposal to provide a “level” surface across the whole of the pedestrian area.

This would potentially include the (privately owned) shops forecourts. We said at the time that this would need the involvement of a dedicated project manager who would have to negotiate agreements with several landlords. Whether improvements of this scale will be included in the July package remains to be seen.

Front Street back lane

The second most supported change, by residents, was improved management of litter and rubbish. There have been ongoing problems with litter and dumpingt in the back lane behind Front Street.

Many residents also wanted to see street furniture refurbished. Some progress has been made on this with cycle racks now added to the painting programme.

As we reported earlier in the week, there are some signs that Front Street is becoming more popular with traders. The number of empty properties has reduced, The Acomb Alive traders group now produces a 6 monthly magazine which has a wide distribution, while the Saturday markets continue to attract shoppers.

What is now needed is a bold and decisive approach to investment in the public realm

Nominations open for the 2018 York apprenticeship graduation and award ceremony

City of York Council is inviting nominations for the eighth York Apprenticeship and Graduation award ceremony. The ceremony highlights outstanding apprentices and employers of apprentices in the city.

Submissions for the high profile city-wide event must be submitted by Friday 19 October. The winners will be announced at the ceremony held at the Grand Opera House on 27 November.

Led by City of York Council in partnership with The Guilds of York and training providers, the annual York Apprenticeship Graduation and Awards Ceremony has been a growing success.

Over the last year over 1400 York employees have benefited from apprenticeship training as businesses have created jobs and taken on new apprentice recruits or supported the professional development of their existing staff.

There are five categories for the awards:

  • Apprentice of the Year aged 16-24 (Smaller Employer)
  • Apprentice of the Year aged 16-24 (Larger Employer)
  • Apprentice of the Year aged 25 or over
  • Smaller Employer of the Year (<100 employees)
  • Larger Employer of the Year (>100 employees)

Last year’s apprentice winners were Sam Sugden (Electrical Engineering with Anderson Green Ltd), Joe Boothman (Business Administration in Public Health at City of York Council) and Lee Russell (Agricultural Business Management at RG Brader). Employer winners were Fera Science Ltd and The Smile Rooms. (more…)

Big jobs fair in York next week

70 employers and 800 attendees expected

From 10am to 2pm at the York Railway Institute (RI), Queen Street, around 70 employers and training providers including John Lewis, Aviva and the North Yorkshire Police are expected along with some 800 visitors.

Funded and organised by City of York Council in partnership with Job Centre Plus, this latest job fair brings together employers, employment support agencies, and education and training providers to offer local people job opportunities, information and advice

Cllr Keith Aspden, executive member for economic development and community engagement, said: “The fair is aimed at those looking for employment, people considering a change of job or career and those who would like to develop new skills and gain new qualifications.

“This is always a really worthwhile event, so do go along if you can.”

Decision on “Make it York” future

The Council must decide whether to renew a three year contract with Make it York (MIY) at a meeting taking place later this week.

The organisation is a curious hybrid with responsibility for a disparate range of functions including business development, tourism, culture and the Shambles market.

For residents, its City centre activities are likely to have the highest profile.  Many initiatives there, including the Christmas lights and anti-litter patrols, are the brainchild of the, trade funded, “York BID”

MIY has been criticised for its opaque decision-making processes.  As a “wholly owned Council company” it should be subject to regular review by a “stakeholder” committee and at least two of the Council’s scrutiny committees (which are themselves famously obtuse).

In realty the “stakeholder committee” rarely meets, while the Council’s two representatives on the MIY board have a largely subterranean profile.

Success has been limited, with a confusing array of bodies (LEP North Yorkshire, LEP City Region, York BID etc.) rubbing shoulders in the same field.

Coney Street decline

MIY can take some credit in helping to sustain the number of tourists coming to the City. This is an important part of the economy and visitor numbers have increased, partly on the back of a weak pound.

Employment levels in the City also remain high

The biggest criticism of the Council’s approach is a lack of smart PIs on which to judge the organisations success.

Very noticeably, there are no customer satisfaction measures in the current set, other than those for participating businesses.

MIY receives an annual £300,000 subsidy from taxpayers.

Some encouraging comparisons for York in new City study

York now has the highest employment rate of any City in the north of England or Scotland. It also has one of the lowest claimant (benefit) rates.

York has a relatively small proportion of jobs in employment sectors which are expected to shrink in size over the next few years.

These include sales assistants and retail cashiers,other administrative occupations, customer service occupations, administrative occupations: finance and elementary storage occupations. A century ago the most vulnerable occupations were forecast (correctly) to be domestic indoor servants.

Th news is contained in a new report published by the “Centre for Cities”.

The report can be read by clicking here

York tends to be average to better than average on most tests applied by the study.

It fares well on the number of residents with high level qualifications having 42.7% compared to the UK average of  38.0%

Perhaps more surprisingly York does’t yet feature in the top 10 of City’s with ultra fast broadband access while housing remains more affordable than in many southern cities.