York Council aims to boost small business economy

With hardly a day going by without another retailer or café announcing the closure of premises in York City centre, the council will review its regeneration plans next week.

Last year £300,000 was allocated to promote what was styled as an “Inclusive Growth Initiatives Fund”. It was aimed at making sure that everyone could benefit from a strong local economy.

An update  report published yesterday says that the York economy is performing strongly. There are now more people in work than ever before, and average wages are higher than the rest of the region. 14,000 work in high skilled jobs.

Details can be found by clicking here

Eight initiatives were identified for investment and financial allocations are now being proposed

  • Establishing a York Poverty Commission: (similar to one operating in Leeds). £20k
  • Community hubs as drivers of economic growth (There are a hubs operating in Foxwood and Chapelfields): £40k
  • Greening our retail estate: £70k
  • Community jobs fairs: £30k
  • 14+ vocational training and work: £50k
  • Independent retail growth fund (using the success of the Bishy Road Traders campaign as a model): £40k
  • Mental health, wellbeing and employment: £25k
  • York Economic Strategy consultation: £25k

The Council report concludes, “Inclusive growth cannot have neighbourhoods that are left behind, opportunities that are only selectively available, or a two-tier economy where some people are doing well at the expense of others who are not”.

That may be good news for the poorer parts of York who feel that the quality of public services available locally has deteriorated in recent years.  

This is not least a result of the York Council being stubbornly insensitive to the effect that  closing leisure and sports facilities is having on vulnerable communities.

Greg Dyke to take over at “Make it York”

The “Make it York” (MIY) Quango is to get a new chair with former York University Chancellor Greg Dyke set to replace Jane Gibson.

Fossgate Festival Make It York

A council report says, “an open, objective and rigorous recruitment process was undertaken supported by specialist head-hunters, Perrett Laver. The role was advertised through the Guardian jobs. Over 100 individuals were involved and these were shortlisted down to a final four. Following an interview with a panel of city stakeholders Mr Dyke emerged as the preferred candidate”

Mr Dyke holds non-executive roles with the London Film School (Chair), Trafalgar Entertainment Group (Chair), BAFTA (Vice President) and was previously Chair of the Football Association, the Ambassador Theatre Group and the British Film Institute amongst others.

His executive career included spells as Chief Executive of London Weekend Television and Director General of the BBC. He knows the city well having been Chancellor of the University of York for 11 years, and has very senior-level experience of working across a number of sectors.

The new Chair will join the organisation at a difficult time. Other tourism bodies (MIY supervises the work of “Visit York”) like “Welcome to Yorkshire” have been criticised for having a cavalier approach to the use of public funds.

MIY itself has been involved in wrangles with local traders and is often accused of a lack of transparency in its processes.

It is 100% owned by the City of York Council.

A review of governance arrangement is overdue.

Year 11 York students offered apprenticeship taster

City of York Council’s Apprenticeship Hub is inviting Year 11 students to apply for a place on the second city-wide Apprenticeship Taster Day, following the successful launch earlier this year.

Taking place on Thursday 16 January 2020, 14 local employers are offering apprenticeship tasters to over 100 year 11 students from York secondary schools.

The taster day gives students the opportunity to experience what it would be like to be an apprentice in a variety of sectors, including finance, data science, hospitality, early years, rail engineering, marketing and construction.

The employers hosting students on the day will include; Network Rail, Aviva, City of York Council, Garbutt & Elliott, Portakabin, Toni & Guy and a variety of early years settings.

The application form is available from york.gov.uk/yorkapprenticeships and must be submitted by Friday 13 December.

For more information contact the York Apprenticeship Hub, email: york.apprenticeships@york.gov.uk or 01904 553732 or visit the York Apprenticeships webpage: www.york.gov.uk/yorkapprenticeships.

Rebid bid by BID

The York Council will today decide whether to support the continuation of he York Business Improvement District (BID)

The BID has operated in the York City Centre for the last 4 years. It is due to come to an end in 20121 unless businesses operating in the City centre choose to renew its mandate.

A Council report says that £4 million will have been invested by the BID over the 5 year life of its contract.

Decisions on the allocation of this investment are taken by the established business-led BID Board and focus on areas such as improving the cleanliness of the City Centre, tackling anti-social behaviour and providing business and procurement support for City Centre businesses.

Many independent observers rate the BID as a success but recognise that it has to be paid for through a supplementary business rates levy whihc may not be popular with everyone.

Achievements listed by the BID include: 

  • The BID funded Street Rangers have engaged with businesses over 15,300 times, recovered £24,000 of stolen stock, provided first aid on 206 occasions and deterred 1,544 cases of anti-social behaviour
  • Christmas lights switch on and Winter lights – the BID have dressed the City and Bar Wall entrances in over 16 kilometres of lights, and such is the success of the switch on that plans are underway to move the event to a larger area to accommodate the growing crowds expected to attend in 2019
  • In 2018/19, the BID deep cleaned over 41,500 m2 of the City Centre and responded to 173 call outs from businesses. The team is also pivotal in removing used syringes and large quantities of biowaste from the streets and surrounding areas.

A decision to hold a renewal ballot is expected to be taken later today

York Industrial Strategy

A report being considered today says that “York’s compact size, competing demand for site/land uses and the historic nature of the city’s traditional core means that green- and brownfield opportunities for commercial development are limited.

Nevertheless, major regeneration opportunities such as York Central and The Guildhall, as well as the Hudson Quarter development, offer sizeable growth opportunities for York’s economy”.

The comment is in response to what the government describes as “local industrial strategy”.

The report goes on to identify the strengths of he York economy

York’s economy is diverse and rapidly growing with the city witnessing the fastest productivity growth of any area in the region since 2012. The York Council has identified five key growth sectors based on existing strengths and assets. These are:

  • Rail engineering and technology;
  • Digital and ICT;
  • Financial and professional services;
  • University-led innovation and training; and,
  • Bio-tech (particularly at start-up phase).

“it is important that these sector strengths are supported to prosper, as well as the city’s lower-paid, high volume industries (retail, hospitality, tourism and health and social care)”

The York and North Yorkshire strategy is summarised as inclusive growth, the use of digital technology to transform York and North Yorkshire into a ‘Smart region’.

The Leeds City Region – which includes York – priorities are:

Supporting businesses to meet the challenges of the future economy and create good quality jobs, to support progression and promote inclusivity;

  • Accelerating economic growth across the City Region through technology and innovation;
  • Building on the successes of our globally important healthcare sector as a source of good jobs and growth;
  • Making sure our environment promotes healthy, active lifestyles and is fit for future generations to enjoy; and,
  • Skilled people, in good jobs, with access to training to help build and sustain their careers

The “strategy” is due to be discussed at a meeting being held in York later today

City centre retailers under increasing pressure

Figures from York Bid

The latest footfall figures for York City centre makes grim reading. The run up to Christmas is usually the busiest time of the year for retailers. With footfall continuing to decline, hopes now rest on the Christmas market stimulating interest.  

The York Council is today discussing a report which considers the progress that has been made in implementing recommendations from a review of the “economic health of the City centre”. 

Eight recommendations were agreed by the responsible executive Councillor at the beginning of the year.  They mostly concern relationships with trade organisations together with the promise that a long-term strategy would be consulted on. The consultation has been dubbed “MyCityCentre”. If it is anything like the Councils  MyCastleGateway project, then recovery timescales will be measured in decades rather than years.

A bid to the governments “Future High Streets Fund” has already been turned down.

The only tangible change for customers was the introduction of aYork Gift Card loyalty scheme. This was launched by the York BID last month.   Unfortunately it competes with a plethora of other loyalty cards – including those run by the York Museums Trust, York Libraries and the Theatre Royal – as well as the, better established, York Pass, for the attention of visitors.

Some joined up thinking wouldn’t go amiss.

The report says that evening park and ride service times have now been made permanent.

Meanwhile the number of shops closing in the City centre is increasing. Debenhams, Bonmarche, French Connection, LK Bennett, Crabtree & Evelyn, Gap, Dorothy Perkins and Burton have, or will shortly, close. They join dozens of others including iconic York brands like Scotts, Hunter and Smallpage, House and Son, Sarah Coggles, Russell’s and Mulberry Hall; all lost during the last decade.

Against that background of collateral damage, it is surprising that the Council could only come up with eight palliatives. In fairness, though, it can do little about the biggest influence – internet shopping.

The shop closure trend is not even mentioned in the Council report.

It is ironic that some politicians are jumping on a bandwagon promoted by access difficulties for some market traders over the Christmas period. They will be unable to close their stalls. remove goods and exit the city before 5:00pm.

Their landlords, the “Make it York” QUANGO, claim that vehicles cannot safely leave the market area before 8:00pm.  

Some might think, in any event, that the high footfall brought by the Christmas Market would be something to be exploited. Empty stalls are a “turn off” for customers.

Nevertheless “Make it York” has acquired a poor reputation for consultation and flexibility during its relatively short lifespan.

It would do well to find a compromise.

What’s on in York: Business week.

York Business Week is a yearly event that allows businesses, however small or big, to showcase their talents and celebrate their achievements. Now in its eight year, the weeklong event – organised by Make it York – features a wide range of business-focused seminars, informative events, networking opportunities and award ceremonies.

The week opens with an all-day business conference taking place at York Racecourse.

Register: https://place_and_property.eventbrite.co.uk

To check out the full list of events, take a look at the York Business Week website: www.yorkbusinessweek.co.uk/

National data shows York workers’ wages up 13% in the last year

Figures out today (29 October) report a 13% increase in average weekly earnings for York workers* over the last year, according to government data.

The national government Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) – the most accurate way of estimating pay – showed that the average weekly earnings for York residents also rose from £512.60 in 2018 to £574. 60; an increase of 12%.

The wage increase in York compares favourably to other areas across the UK, with pay across the country increasing by 2.8%; a 1.9% increase for Leeds residents and an increase of 3.5% across the Leeds City Region.

The figures correct the impression of a significant dip last year.

We pointed out in March that this figure was probably wrong and so it has proved to be.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, City of York Council, said:

“These figures are welcome news for the city, though like any statistics they only show part of the picture. Looking at the data over the last five years shows, since 2015, a 16 % increase in the wages of both residents and people working in York.

This is good news for everyone in the city and shows the inherent strength of York’s economy”.



*York workers are people working in the city, not necessarily those who live in the city (York residents)

Over 30 employers and training providers at fourth annual Acomb Jobs Fair

Around 250 visitors are expected to visit Acomb Jobs Fair next month, where they will have the chance to meet over 30 employers and training providers from local areas.

Held at Acomb Parish Church Hall, 18A Front St, YO24 3BZ, on Wednesday 6 November between 10am and 2pm, the free event brings together employers, employment support agencies, education and training providers to offer local people job opportunities, information and advice

The fair is aimed at those looking for employment, considering a change of job or career and those who would like to develop new skills and gain new qualifications, ahead of York Business Week 11-15 November. 

The event is funded by 4Community Growth and organised by City of York Council and York Learning in partnership with Job Centre Plus.