Tour caravan woe for Monk Stray?

Caravan and camping site planned

Monk Stray

Monk Stray

It appears that the York Council are going to approve the use of Monk Stray as a huge camping and caravan site to service the needs of Tour de France visitors.

Although there has been no consultation with local Councillors or residents, notices posted in the area suggest that the facility will be open for around a month.

The actual TdF start event in the City lasts only 2 days.

Most had expected camping facilities to be located closer to the Knavesmire where the start takes place.

Meanwhile the Council is remaining tight lipped on how it proposes to recoup at least some of the £1.6 million that it is putting into the event. At the last Council meeting, details were promised in “January” but they have not emerged.

The York Council taxpayers subsidy is the largest agreed by any Local Authority in the region.

The official Tour web site is markedly silent on issues like car parking and sponsorship.

Eng-AGE in some fun and fitness at Energise

York’s over-50s can get into gear for the very popular third Eng-AGE 50+ Activity Day which will take place on Monday 17 February from 9.30am to 4pm at Energise.

Energise gym

The day is the first big sport and activity event of the 2014 health and fitness calendar, in a year when York residents are being encouraged and inspired by the Tour de France to do more physical activity.

With the Tour de France setting off from York on 6 July it’s only right that this year we have included some bicycle related activities for the over 50s such as beginners spin classes, cycle maintenance and cycle training. This is a great opportunity to try some activities, meet new people, have fun and become fitter all at the same time!  (more…)

York Community Stadium size shock

The Councils Cabinet is to consider an update on the much delayed Community Stadium at its meeting on 7th January.

The Council is seeking an operator who will design, build, operate and maintain the stadium. They will also manage and maintain the Councils other Leisure facilities such as the successful Energise sports centre on Cornlands Road.

Given the Council somewhat varied track record on Leisure centre management (the Barbican was costing taxpayers £800,000 a year until it was privatised), the Council is probably correct to seek a professional organisation to manage the Stadium.

Athletics layout - Heslington West click for original

Athletics layout – Heslington West click for original

Discussions with 2 preferred bidders are expected to continue until March. Their plans will be kept secret until later in the year.

The Council says that “All submissions were able to meet the basic minimum criteria set of 6,000 capacity all-seat stadium, community hub within the financial parameters of the project”

However designing the stadium so that it can be expanded in capacity later is described as having “major cost implications” and it seems that the initial capacity may be increased to over 6000 with “some terraced standing space”.

That is likely to please many football supporters but it would be at the expense of later expansion capability.

It seem likely now that a stadium with a capacity of 7000 will be provided but with the capability of expansion to 10,000 only if Championship (or Super League) promotion is achieved.

The report confirms that the costs of running the stadium will be covered “through a mix of the rentals from the sports clubs, the community hub tenants and other commercial income streams brought forward by each bidder. This will include full maintenance and lifecycle costs as part of a 13 year operational contract”.

The Council are now talking about opening the stadium in spring 2016.

Final Tenders

May 2014

Planning   & Project Agreement Live

January   2015

Work starts on site

February   2015

Stadium Opens

February / March 2016

The £2 million athletics facility at Heslington West is expected to be opened in September 2014. A copy of the design specification for the athletics facility can be viewed here.

The Cabinet report includes a list of the risk factors that must be addressed. Not least amongst these is the need to meet the requirements of the Football Foundation who loaned York City £2 million in 2005.

1 abandoned dog per month is destroyed in York

A dog is for life not just Christmas


Several families will be giving or receiving dogs this Christmas.

New figures published by the York Council – together with the alarming dog attack in Leeds – should provide food for thought.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Council has revealed that over the last 12 months it has collected on average 1 dog per day Monday to Friday (there is no weekend service).

Over 50 % of dogs are returned to the owners.

In the period January to September 2013 on average 1 dog a month was destroyed 2 because of very old age / ill health meaning that it could not be re-homed.

7 were of a breed (Staffy / Staffy cross) that no carer was prepared to take.

Kenneling stray dogs costs about £30,000 a year in York

Those dogs who are re-homed go to a mix of national charities or specialist breed rescue centres for further re-homing or long term care, or to individuals / families for permanent adoption.

Many charities are looking for good homes for dogs and cats that they receive during the festive period.

Click below for links.

Residents anger over York Library closures

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The York Council is being heavily criticised by residents for not notifying local media about today’s library closures.

Although the closure – which is allowing staff to have a conference about the pending privatisation of the service – is mentioned on the Councils web site, many users have not noticed it.

Some are obviously seething after wasted journeys.

They are venting their disappointment by writing advice about good communications on the closure notice that has been posted on the library door today.

The privatisation move – which we believe does not enjoy widespread support either from staff or customers – is the brainchild of Cllr Crisp. Her report to tomorrows Council meeting also pointedly omits to mentions todays closures.

NB. User numbers at 14 of York’s 15 libraries has reduced since Cllr Crisp took responsibility for them.


The Council is also saying that its electronic “report it” system may not be working this week.

Tang Hall community centre funding probe

Residents in the Tang Hall area are asking why a £10,000 grant made last year for the improvement of the Tang Hall Community Centre has not been spent?

The money was part of the very much reduced budget now made available to Ward Committees.

It was to have been spent on remodelling the Centre, making it potentially easier to generate additional income.

The Centre is one of 4 in the City which are under threat of closure following the decision of the Council to stop its annual support grants.

Tang Hall CC, was at the centre of a controversy earlier in the year, when all the key posts on the management committee were taken over by local Labour Councillors.


LibDem Councillor Ann Reid outside Moor Lane Youth Centre

LibDem Councillor Ann Reid outside Moor Lane Youth Centre

We also understand that the Council is considering closing down the Moor Lane youth centre in Dringhouses.

The well established and popular centre serves the whole of the west of York and is one of very few purpose designed facilities aimed at young people in the City’s suburbs.

Fitness instructors wanted for older people


City of York Council is inviting fitness instructors to get in touch about setting up new classes to add to the successful Eng-AGE 50+ activity programme.

Instructors who join the Eng-AGE programme will be invited to showcase their activity by offering a taster session at the annual Eng-AGE 50+ Day at Energise on Monday 17 February from 9.30am to 4pm.

Planning is already underway so any instructor who wants to find out more should contact Catriona Sudlow, Older Peoples Physical Activity Officer on 01904 553377 or email before Friday 13 December.

For more information about the Eng-AGE programme of activities visit

£1.66 million costs but no income from Tour De France?

It is scarcely 6 months before the second stage of the Tour de France cycle race is due to set off from York.

However, the Council still hasn’t identified how it will maximise income from the event.

TDF York Council budget, click to enlarge

TDF York Council budget, click to enlarge

The Council has budgeted to spend £1.66 million hosting the event which is taking place on 6th July.

Most will go on crowd control on the day although the organisers have also demanded a £480,000 “hosting fee”

£200,000 will go on road repairs and cleansing, while marketing and publicity will cost £100,000 and “legacy events” £99,000.

However the Council has so far only identified a government grant of £291,000 to offset the costs.

No local sponsorship deals have been identified although it looks like tourism businesses will be the main gainers from the event. There is talk of £88 million being generated for businesses in the region.

The additional income that could be generated from car parking, merchandising, camping etc have also not been identified although £221,000 is being spent on a “project management team”.

The absence of an agreed business plan and any criteria, on which the success or otherwise of the event can be judged, is a major concern.

Old cyclist

In response to a Freedom of Information request the Council says,

“In order to maximise value for money and benefit from appropriate economies of scale an economic impact study will be commissioned (through Leeds City Council) on behalf of all LA districts through which the tour will run. This will cover all three stages including the Cambridge to London stage and will be undertaken in conjunction with partners including all relevant LAs (inc. Cambridge, Essex, and London), Sport England, and Transport for London. The study is expected to provide impact information at a LA level (i.e. we should be able to get specific figures for York).

The detail in terms of the methodology and therefore the assessment criteria and performance indicators associated with the work are currently being developed and therefore we are not in a position to provide these at this time.

It is probable that these will be based on a standard methodology developed by Sport England which typically measures impact based on an assessment of additional visitor spend as determined through on the ground survey work. We are also discussing business survey and/or longitudinal study to measure any catalytic impact on business growth and have an ambition to include aspects of the cycling legacy work being undertaken, as well as some of the more qualitative impacts”.

Many residents would no doubt take the view that the objectives of the project should have been clear long before the Council committed £1.66 million of its scarce resources to underpinning the event.

Bizarrely it seems that some Labour Councillors are unaware of the financial risks of the project.

At the last Council meeting one (Cllr Burton) successfully proposed. “that all income generated for City of York Council from the Tour de France Grand Départ is spent on frontline services for residents

Officials have now confirmed that there is likely to be little or no income from the event which could provide a boost for Council coffers.

The Council taxpayer is likely to be over £1 million out of pocket, with front line public services being the ones to suffer when further budget reductions then become inevitable.

As previously reported, even the less than parsimonious Sheffield Council – where stage 2 finishes on 6th July – is spending much less than York on the Tour.

Some trimming of the costs of the event would seem to be a prudent and urgent necessity for the York Council.

Energise commended by leading quality scheme

Energise Pool

Energise has passed a tough assessment from Sport England’s leading national quality scheme, Quest, in which it scored Excellent.

Quest is the most well known improvement programme within the leisure industry and its rigorous assessments challenge even the very best leisure centres in the UK.

In order to achieve Quest Plus, Energise went through a two year process, with a mystery visit and a two day assessment in the first year, and a second mystery visit and one day assessment in the second year.

The mystery visit in year two is particularly challenging as the mystery visitor does not work in the leisure industry.


Dive in to The Swimathon 2014 at York pools


Two York swimming pools are inviting swimmers to get on their marks and sign up to join others nationwide to raise awareness of the benefits of the sport and to fundraise for charity.

Swimmers in York will take the plunge at Energise on Saturday 22 March and Yearsley Pool on Sunday 23 March 2014 as they take on the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon.

There are set distances of 1.5 kilometres, 2.5k or 5k for individuals or you can form a relay squad to take part in the Swimathon with your friends.

Entries are now open, so sign up, get training and help make this an even more successful event than last year.

Entries can be made at