Residents reject plan to fence off Chesneys Field

Chesney’s Field development plan

A Council proposal, that part of the Chesney Field amenity area should be fenced off, was criticised at a meeting of the Foxwood Residents Association last night.

Of those attending the meeting, only Council officials spoke in favour of the plan.

Now a formal representation has been made to local Councillors in the hope that the scheme can be quickly dismissed as an option.

This would allow other aspects of the project to move forward. These may include the provision of a trim track or “outdoor gym”.

Residents urged the football club that wants to erect the fencing and a storage container, to look to an arrangement with the Acorn Ruby Club who operate on an adjacent, and secure, site already.

The matter is likely to be discussed again at a Ward Committee meeting which is taking place next Tuesday at the Bowling Club (7:00pm)

York Tory Leader must stand down

The decision of the Tory Council Leader, to try to sack his opposite number in the LibDem Group this week, is without precedent.

Cllrs Aspden and Carr

In doing so, Cllr Carr broke an agreement which had seen a stable administration take control of a Council which in 2015 had been badly bruised by a series of unpopular and impulsive decisions by its predecessor. That (Labour led) administration rightly paid a heavy penalty at the polls, the results of which also left the Council balanced with “no overall control”.

Many hoped for a return to the “committee system” where decisions were taken at meetings where the attendance reflected the political makeup of the Council. Sadly, that was not to be, but a more inclusive form of governance emerged with all parties now represented at Executive meetings.

It provided a platform for 4 years of stable government although few would have expected an entirely peaceful relationship given the differences between the Tory and LibDem parties at national level, not least on policies such as Europe.

Ironically, it appears that it was an officer decision to investigate the source of a leak to The Press newspaper that prompted last week’s meltdown. There hasn’t been a similar crisis in local government in the City since the then Council Leader Rod Hills was investigated by the Police in the early part of the last decade.

It is only recently that Council Leaders were given the powers to “hire and fire” Executive/Cabinet members at will.

It is a responsibility which needs to be exercised with caution and consideration. In a coalition arrangement, it also needs to be exercised through consent.

That clearly hasn’t happened.

The situation has been inflamed by Cllr Carr’s description of the allegations against two LibDem Executive members as “serious”.  Whether something is “serious” is a subjective judgement and one that may prejudice any consideration by the Councils Standards Board.

In the meantime, the coalition protocols are effectively suspended.  It will require good will on all sides if essential decision-making processes are to be exercised in the best interests of the people of York.

A more experienced Council Leader (Cllr Carr was first elected in 2015) would have found ways of mitigating any issues.  A good start would have been to consider the outcomes of any reference to the local Standards Board before taking unilateral action. Significantly, several Councillors – from all parties – have had their actions referred for investigation in the past but have continued to work as normal pending an judgement.

There is no happy outcome in prospect.

If the coalition is to continue for a while longer, then the Tories will have to replace their Leader with someone with more experience and flair.

That would allow a fresh start to be made with the interests of the City put above political posturing.

Lowfields trench digging mystery explained

A JCB has been digging up part of the Lowfields playing field this week.

Anxious residents – who are keen to see the playing fields retained – have been told that this is work being undertaken by the York Archaeological Trust.

An official has contacted local Councillor Andrew Waller to say,

“As you are aware as part of the planning application we are required to undertake a number of site surveys in support of the planning application that we wish to make to develop the site. The trench work that is currently being undertaken are follow up works to an earlier geophysical survey that was undertaken in June 2017 in support of the planning application.

York Archaeological Trust (YAT) have been commissioned to undertake an archaeological evaluation of the site, which as you are aware is common practice in York. The Trust will be on the site until Monday 4th September 2017.

On completion of the investigative works, YAT will back fill the trenches with the stockpiled top & sub soil removed during the excavation & compact the earth”.

Fly tipping on Bradley Drive amongst issues reported today

Broken branch on tree overhanging the Walker Drive snicket. Reported by Cllr Sheena Jackson

Black bag dumped next to bin on Gale lane

Cllr Sheena Jackson has asked for this fly tipping to be cleared from Bradley Drive

Bushes on Askham Lane near the A1237 are forcing pedestrians to walk on the highway. We have asked for the bushes to be removed,.

Undergrowth is causing sight line problems for motorists leaving Otterwood Lane

Chesney Field Council decision on 19th October UPDATED

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE COUNCIL WILL NOT NOW DISCUSS THE CHESNEY FIELD ISSUES ON 19TH OCTOBER. INSTEAD THE QUESTION OF PROVIDING FENCING AND A STORAGE CONTAINER ON THE SITE WILL BE CONSIDERED AT A LATER MEETING WHEN THE EXECUTIVE MEMBER FOR LEISURE WILL REVIEW THE PROPOSALS. THE MEETING WILL, OF COURSE, BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND RESIDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE REPRESENTATIONS.

EARLIER: Despite overwhelming opposition to the proposal to fence off most of the Chesney Field public open space, the York Council is set to discuss the plan at a meeting of its Executive taking place on 19th October.

The same meeting will also consider selling off land at Burnholme and plans to provide sports pitches on land at the “Askham estate” on Tadcaster Road.

However it is the proposal to erect 1 metre high railings, on the public open space on Foxwood Lane, that is likely to attract the most controversy.

Chesney’s Field Interpretation board unveiled last year

Council fencing plan

Public meeting

The Foxwood Residents Association is organising a public meeting to discuss the issue. It will take place on Wednesday 20th September starting at 7:00pm. The meeting will take place at the Foxwood Community Centre and will be attended by those Council officials who favour the railings plan.

Local Ward Councillors have now completed delivering a door to door survey to households in the Foxwood area seeking views on the Council’s plans.

Of those who have responded so far

  • 124 (72%) do not want to see the amenity area fenced off
  • 48 (28%) support putting railings round up to 60% of the area

These was no support for securing the whole of the site.

Most respondents said they had no objection to the current arrangements where football and rugby pitches are marked out on the area and rented on a seasonal basis by local clubs.

There was no opposition to plans to level the 2 pitches.

There was strong opposition to siting a shipping storage container on the open space, although some said they had no objection to one being located in the Thanet Road sports area (Acorn Field) behind the landscaping mounds.

Additional trees were planted on Chesney’s Field

Views about the provision of a trim track or outdoor gym were mixed. Some favoured provision of such a facility (which is not dependant on the area being fenced off) on Chesneys field although others felt the provision would be more appropriate on the Acorn field, where there is already a significant amount of sports infrastructure (and which is already secured with 2 metre high railings).

Residents were asked where provision for the local football club, which faces eviction from the Council owned pitches at Lowfields, should be made. The majority of respondents said that the Lowfields plans should be redesigned to allow the existing pitches to remain.

Others pointed to the Councils promise to provide an alternative on Tadcaster Road, while some asked if the joint use of pitches on the Acorn Rugby field was possible (given the projected cost of the project which is put at £40,000)

Foxwood residents, who have so far not completed the survey, can do so “on line” at http://tinyurl.com/Chesneyaug