£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 http://www.swimathon.org/

Parliament Week to launch with Edna Crichton mini-exhibition

Edna Crichton

Edna Crichton

York’s Libraries and Archives service will be launching Parliament Week 2013, which runs from 15 to 21 November.

The week opens with a mini-exhibition at York Explore Library and Learning Centre looking at York’s first female Lord Mayor, Edna Crichton.

Amongst many other of her life’s stories, the mini-exhibition will place a spotlight on Edna’s first year as Mayor, which was one of the most traumatic in York’s recent history. On the night of 29 April 1942 the city was hit by one of the Baedeker Raids, when 69 bombs rained down on the city with little warning.

The raid resulted in St Martin’s Church on Coney Street being destroyed and the Guildhall suffered a direct hit – when Edna home at the Mansion House at the time.

The programme of events for Parliament Week, which looks to engage residents with Parliamentary Democracy can be picked up from any City of York Council Library or viewed online


Richard III lecture

  • 20th Nov 2013
  • This Parliament Week lecture examines the beginnings of the Council of the North under Richard, the power it wielded, how it was organised, and how it was funded.
  • Location: York Explore
  • Time: 18:30 – 19:30
  • Cost: Free

Before and after the lecture you will have a chance to see the earliest surviving York House Book – the original record of life in York from the period in which Richard was ruling the North of England on behalf of his brother Edward IV.  This is a free event but booking is essential. There will be beverages available on the evening. To book a place visit any City of York Library, telephone 01904 55 28 28, or email libraries@york.gov.uk

View the full programme of Parliament Week events.

Knavesmire sports pavilion slips 12 months….Community Stadium update

New pavilion design

New pavilion design

The ambitious plans to provide a replacement pavilion on the little Knavesmire for the Hamilton Panthers football team looks like being delayed.

The York Council has set aside £350,000 to part fund the £600,000 project. But it seems that funding from Sport England has been delayed.

The project which will see a new clubhouse and changing rooms built on the site of an old ROC World War II building was given planning permission in 2012.

At that time it was hoped that the new facility would be available for use in early 2014, but this now seems unlikely


The Council is also saying that the new Community Stadium – which will be built on the site of the existing Huntington Stadium – will cost £1.85 million this year.

The total cost is now put at £18.6 million

It is unclear how the council intends to recover it’s investment (now thought to be around £4 million) or whether it includes the capitalised salaries of those who are working on the project.

It is understood that formal bids for the construction of the stadium will be considered in January, with the hope that construction will be completed in 2016.

The project is running 2 years behind schedule.

Labour plan to abandon community centres in York

The latest in a long list of poor decisions by the Labour Council could see four community centres in York close.

The provisional budget for next year sees all the community centres (Chapelfields , Foxwood , Tang Hall , and Bell Farm) lose their Council grants.

Typically a community centre costs around  £50,000 a  year to run with most income generated from hiring rooms.

The Council are to cut their financial support entirely leaving some of the centres with a 5 figure budget deficit.

Already the community centre caretakers have been issued with redundancy notices (although they are likely to be redeployed within the Council).

The Council says that it wishes to see the buildings transferred into the ownership of a voluntary committee with a community asset transfer by April 2015

This seems to be what has prompted the Tang Hall centre to announce that it is changing the legal status of its voluntary committee.

The voluntary committees undertake a thankless task and deserve Council support.

The Foxwood and Chapelfields centres depend  entirely on the resources of  local residents to continue, while Tang Hall was only kept going when Labour Councillors were parachuted into key roles.

Burton Stone community centre future unclear

Burton Stone community centre future unclear

Burton Stone is a larger building and its future is much more unclear.

Without caretakers, the buildings will be closed to general callers reducing their use as a focal point for neighbourhood communications. One Community Centre (Tang Hall) has already leased office space to an outside organisation.

All the Community Centres are located in what the Council regards as “deprived areas” .

The Council hopes to save £180,000 through the cuts. Most of this will come from the Burton Stone centre.

NB. The Council is planning to spend £1.6 million hosting just one day of the Tour De France cycle race.

Click here to download a full list of proposed cuts (see ref Can 12)

Illuminating York makes comeback


This year’s Illuminating York event is proving to be popular with residents and visitors alike.

After a slow start (probably the result of the bad publicity following last years poor show) ticket sales are increasing.

This despite the increase in prices with children being discouraged from attending the paid for events at Cliffords Tower and in the Museum Gardens.

The Councils budget for the event is understood to be £175,000 with the Arts Council contributing £73,000 of this.

Budget click to enlarge

Budget click to enlarge

Free events like the illuminated A4 locos at the railway Museum are very popular.

Until 2011, the costs of the event were all covered by sponsorship. The new Labour Council introduced admission charges although the total costs of staging the event remained broadly the same.

The event continues tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday)

Ticket details can be found here.

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival York 2013

In recent years audiences have come to expect more from cinema with innovative screenings popping up across the UK, from Secret Cinema to films watched from hot tubs. For those looking to adventure this autumn, the third Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, sponsored by York St John, is one of the most exciting site-specific cinematic experiences in the UK.

With screenings taking place in a host of hidden locations across the city, you can expect to find something surprising around every corner. Slip down one of York’s many snickleways to discover a stunning medieval hall and in amongst the banqueting tables watch documentaries from all corners of the world. Or why not take a walk around the city walls to catch films screening in a tower above the city? 15 historic venues lead visitors on a journey around the city’s most iconic places whilst introducing them to memorable independent short film.

There is something for everyone at ASFF from comedy, drama, animation, music video, art, experimental and even a family-friendly programme for parents who can’t get away for the weekend. For those wishing to involve themselves further, masterclasses from BAFTA, Film4, Channel 4, and one of screenwriting’s most talked about talents Alice Lowe (Ben Wheatley’s recent hit Sightseers) dispense industry tips.

York Council’s £3.5 million payment to local Universities

The York Council has released details of the payments that it has made to local Universities over the last 4 years.

Click to download full list

Click to download full list

In total, payments of around £3.5 million have been made although the vast majority of this (£3 million) was a grant to York University for the provision of a County Standard swimming pool. The scheme – part of the new “sports village” on Hull Road – was agreed after the Barbican pool closed and was paid for from the proceeds of the sale of the land there.

In total £192,519 has been paid to St Johns University. The largest payments were made to an anti bullying campaign although the University receives significant payments from taxpayers for the “Higher York” organisation.

The University of York fee payments range from £170,000 paid for the York Cares organisation (which managess voluntary projects in the City) to £850 for a speaker at a “women’s development session”.

All Council expenditure is now being closely scrutinised following the decision of the Labour Leadership to remove winter salt bins from key foopath locations in the City.

The bins cost only £50 a time to fill.

NB. At the last Council meeting the Labour Leadership revealed that it will pay £31,000 to York Athletics Club as a sweetener to move out of the Huntington Stadium. It had been intended to provide a replacement athletics facility at the sports village but Labour now propose to fund the refurbishment of the existing University athletics field.

Park and Ride site to be used for fireworks display?

The Council has approved a licensing application which could see the Rawcliffe Bar car park used for open air entertainment events.

It transpires that this may include the “Kaboom” fireworks display scheduled to take place on 3rd November.

Why the Council should leave the licensing application, until only a couple of weeks before the event is scheduled to take place, will be a cause for speculation..