£350,000 Council Tax bill for new tourist signs in York

A Council official has agreed, at another “behind closed doors” meeting, to contribute £350,000 towards the provision of new “wayfinding” signs in the City centre.

The total cost of the project is £700,000 with the York Business Improvement District (BID) contributing half.

The plan has prompted a mixed reaction in the past. The new LibDem led Council administration had been expected to review the proposals, along with other expenditure commitments – like the £20 million Guildhall project – which it inherited in May.

However, that hasn’t happened, with the new administration adopting a very low-profile approach to public service reforms.

The decision notice says, “The February 2019 Budget Council meeting included the following …. this scheme will allow the Council and York BID to proceed with full implementation of a new Wayfinding scheme starting in Spring 2019, following a detailed consultation exercise. Works will include the removal of 60 current heritage fingerposts to reduce street clutter, and installation of 36 new totem signs, 14 fingerpost signs, and 13 wall signs. York BID have committed £350k to the full implementation, which will be matched by the Council as part of this scheme”.

Opinions on the design of the new signs – one of which is located outside the Mansion House – have been mixed with same favouring the more traditional “finger” signs.

However, the main area of contention relates to prioritisation at a time when an increasing number of visitors to the City depend on smartphone features like Google Maps to find their way around.

While Visit York has a good website, there is scope for a more specialised smartphone app.

There are several commercial applications available with some depending on advertising revenue. Currently Visit York doesn’t provide a list of approved Apps that are available. Anyone accessing the iTunes store and entering “York” will be offered only 2 options. One of these is currently unavailable.

Visit York should commission an official real time “walking tour” type guide and promote its use via its web site, social media and at entry points to the City.

Meanwhile, many will take the view that £350,000 might be better invested in ensuring that the City is weed and litter free, and that street furniture like bins and seats are kept in good condition.

The Council should also finally deliver a replacement for the real time car parking space availability signs, and “on line” service, which was lost some 8 years ago.

Such a “clean and seen” campaign must include the main road and rail routes into the City which are so important in forming a visitors “first impression” of York.

City of York Council and Jobcentre Plus offering support to SuperBreak staff

City of York Council and Jobcentre Plus are teaming up to help promote the support on offer to York-based SuperBreak employees, made redundant, when the firm went into administration last week.

This includes helping those affected with tailored support, including how to write a great CV and with interviewing skills, while jobseekers are notified of new employment opportunities in the locality.

York remains a highly sought after location for investment and the council has a strong track record of working alongside business to create new employment opportunities that supports a strong and vibrant economy.

City of York Council jobs are advertised at www.york.gov.uk/jobs

Many unfilled job vacancies in York

Latest unemployment figures show only 1.3%  are out of work in York.

This is significantly below the national figure of 2.7%.

There are 676 York job vacancies registered on the governments “find a job” website today. Some have been unfilled for several months now. The number of vacancies exceeds the number of people claiming job seekers allowance (550).

The latest Job Density figures available confirm that there were more jobs available than in other parts of the country

  • York 0.89
  • Yorkshire 0.81
  • Great Britain 0.86

!Density figures represent the ratio of total jobs to population aged 16-65)

Most York jobs these days are in the retail, tourism, education and social care sectors.

The high number of job vacancies is likely to inhibit growth prospects for the York economy

York students offered apprenticeship taster with Community Stadium Contractor

Buckingham Group Contracting (currently building York Stadium Leisure Complex at Monks Cross) is offering a second Apprenticeship Taster Day on Tuesday 28 May.

The Taster Day is a perfect opportunity for any Year 11 interested in a career in both technical and trade construction occupations.

The young people who get to attend will find out what it’s like in a real construction environment around employees and apprentices working on the Community Stadium.

Places are limited and students will be given places on a first come, first serve basis. If you would like to apply for this taster, please visitwww.york.gov.uk/apprenticeshipevents

For more information, or to find out how to be involved in 2020’s Year 11 Taster Day in January, contact the York Apprenticeship Hub onyork.apprenticeships@york.gov.uk or 01904 553732

York apprenticeship recruitment event attendance at an all-time high

Hundreds of young people and parents attended the York apprenticeship recruitment event on March 6 2019, organised by City of York Council and the Apprenticeship Hub.

More than 400 people came to the event which showcased over 100 apprenticeship vacancies across the city, in addition to the 30 employers and training providers who were on hand to offer advice to young people aged 16 to 24.

Recruiting employers included City of York Council, Nestlé, LNER, Fera Science Ltd, Buckingham Group, Garbutt & Elliott, Army Careers and many more, with vacancies in business and finance, construction, retail, hospitality, digital & IT, engineering, law & childcare.

For more information on apprenticeships, whether you are an employer or a young person, visit www.york.gov.uk/yorkapprenticeships or contact york.apprenticeships@york.gov.uk

“Make it York” reports financial progress

The Make it York organisation, which is partly funded by York taxpayers, is reporting that it has made a £140,714 profit so far this year.  That is £71,900 above budget expectations

They currently have a balance sheet surplus of £330,000

The organisation reports that it had a successful Christmas and claims “continuing strong performance from Shambles Market, City Centre Activities and Visit York Membership”

No detail is provided on the Shambles market performance.

The brief report to a “shareholder “ meeting also says that the “York Pass” initiative has been less successful than hoped.

Looking to the future the report says, “MIY currently runs or facilitates a range of events which animate the public realm and make the city vibrant and interesting for visitors and residents. There is scope though to use the “stage” provided to do, and to facilitate, a great deal more, the ultimate objective being to ensure a daily “wow” factor

York’s biggest jobs fair is back.

Anyone looking for work or wanting support into training or employment are welcome to York Jobs Fair on Wednesday 20 March 2019.

From 10am to 2pm at the York Railway Institute (RI), Queen Street, around 70 employers, training providers and career advisors including John Lewis, Hiscox and Work With York are expected along with some 700 visitors.

Funded and organised by City of York Council in partnership with Job Centre Plus, this free event brings together employers, employment support agencies, and education and training providers to offer local people over 4000 job opportunities, career information and advice.

 

York Central moves another step closer with £37.32m funding decision

York Central has moved a step closer as £37.32m of external funding was promised to deliver the new generation of homes and higher paid jobs York needs and to improve the railway station.

The funding was confirmed yesterday (Wednesday 13 March) from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund and Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

The funding will contribute to a new western access road, bridge and spine road into York Central, a fully accessible western entry into the railway station and the station frontage scheme which will bring a transformation of transport interchange facilities, enhanced accessibility and new public realm at the front of York station.

The scheme will support the delivery of up to 2,500 new homes and over 6,000 new jobs.

£23.5m of this funding will contribute to the £155m infrastructure funding package for York Central with a further £11.7m towards the costs of transforming the front of the station.  Together the two schemes will open up the 72 hectare York Central site which is surrounded by railway lines, and create vibrant and distinctive residential neighbourhoods, cultural spaces, and a high-quality commercial quarter at the heart of York.

The plans for the front of the station will demolish Queen St Bridge, improve the public spaces and improve the transport interchange to create a greatly improved fitting gateway to the city.  This funding is conditional upon the award of Housing Infrastructure Funding later this month and on the award of Planning permission.

The West Yorkshire Transport Fund money follows the £35m budget agreed by City of York Council in December. This will then be repaid using retained business rates from the York Central Enterprise Zone. The council’s £77m bid for the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund is at an advanced stage, with a decision expected soon.

The outline planning application for the site will be considered by the council’s planning committee on Monday 25 March 2019.

Jobs and wages in York

Figures published by ONS last month on wage levels in the city caused a panic with some commentators.

The figures suggested that median wage levels in the City had fallen by 9.4% compared to the previous year.

But had they?

According to ONS gross wages were £384.10. The previous year – on the back of an unlikely 5.6% increase – the median wage had been £423.80?

So had workers really seen a £40 a week drop in earnings?

If so, what went wrong?

Most people seem to have forgotten that the published figures are provisional. The final figures will not be available until later in the year. The figures are based on a sample of returns from employers. The sample size changes. ONS advised caution in using short term figures to demonstrate a trend.

As well as the reduction in wages, the ONS figures also say that the City also saw a drop of 3000 in the number of jobs.  Against the background of a record high (and stable) number in employment in the York, that alone suggests a sampling error.

Looking beyond gross pay, a further breakdown indicates that the fall had mainly been down to a reduction in overtime payments. Given the uncertainty in the market as a result of BREXIT, it would not be surprising if there was a slowing down in economic activity. Less overtime would be an obvious symptom of a more cautious approach to investment

However, the most likely explanation for the blip, is that the figures are just plain wrong!

Source ONS