Council to approve handover of facilities to local communities

Members of City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to approve proposals to lease a number of public open spaces and buildings to various local community groups and organisations at a meeting later this month (18 March).

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Chapmans Pond, Moor Lane, Proposals

If agreed, the plans, a part of the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Policy, will enable local communities to manage facilities, which will remain in the council’s ownership.

The Executive will be asked to consider the asset transfer of 10 venues or sites across the city, including community facilities, wildlife and open spaces, a park pavilion and a pond.

Amongst these is the plan to lease Rowntree Park Pavillion to Rowntree Park Sports Association, which would see the pavilion access grants to fund flood resilience and refurbishment work to create additional storage space for the park’s tennis and canoe clubs, and social space for community use.

The Poppleton Centre – a community hall, bowling green and tennis courts – could be leased to Poppleton Community Trust at a peppercorn rent for 99 years, enabling them to similarly apply for national grants and funding sources, if approved.

The proposals would also see local residents in the Rufforth and Knapton areas gain access to new allotments, if a part of a field adjacent to the B1224 is leased to the parish council.  The new provision would replace the community’s former allotments, which were reclaimed by the owners of the land at the end of 2018, following a long lease to the local authority.

Another asset being considered for lease is the new community facilities at Marjorie Waite Court, which is due for completion in July and will feature a large community hall, a full commercial kitchen and a communal dining area.

Members will be asked to approve plans to find an operator to run the community facilities, with a focus on reinvesting profits to support wider social outcomes for the local community.  

A full list of the sites

  • Mayfields North
  • Mayfields South
  • Clifton Without land (near Cricket ground)
  • Rowntree Pavilion
  • Rowntree Park Tennis Courts
  • Land at Wetherby Road, Rufforth
  • The catering, communal dining and community hall facilities at Marjorie Waite Court
  • The Poppleton Centre, Moor Lane/Ousemoor Road, Upper Poppleton
  • The upper floors of Rowntree Lodge,

Local services under threat in Acomb

Sainsbury’s

Speculation is mounting about the future of the Sainsbury’s Local store on Beckfield Lane. Sources suggest that it may close towards the end of the summer.

The rumours have been reinforced by the recent decision by the company to close its Argos stores, make redundancies at its head office and close 10 large supermarkets and 110 local branches

Sainsbury’s has performed well during the pandemic recording an increase in sales of 8.5% last year.

The Supermarket was rebuffed by regulators in an attempt to merge with Asda 2 years ago.

Sainsbury’s operates 10 stores in York. The Beckfield Lane store is their only outlet in Acomb. The next nearest Sainsbury’s Local is in Blossom Street.

Lloyds Bank closing this week

Lloyds Bank confirmed recently that it would close its Front Street branch  on 11th March (Thursday).

 It was still attracting a steady stream of customers this morning.

Details of the closure and other options for customers can be found by clicking these links

Closure part one

Closure part two

Anger as York Council plans to reduce expenditure on fixing potholes

Hopes were raised last year when the York Council established a second pothole filling team in the City. It was hoped that the initiative would at least slow the rapidly deteriorating condition of highways in the City.

Expectations were further raised when the Department of Transport allocated part of its “Pothole challenge fund to the City.

Sadly, the hoped-for improvements have not materialised.

Many highways are breaking up under the impact of ice and frost. A well-maintained surface is less vulnerable to frost damage but lack of urgency in patching roads in the summer and autumn, means that large stretches are now unsafe for users.

The Council has been criticised this week for failing to embrace new maintenance technologies.

Now hidden within a large report, being considered by the Council later this week, is a proposal which would see less spent on resurfacing.

£600,000 will be taken from pothole filling/resurfacing and instead used to partly fund new schemes like the cycle path link from Wheldrake to Fulford.

Even the most extreme pro cycling campaigners are now realising that maintaining existing paths should be the Councils priority when funds are limited.

The existing cycle and highway networks are in poor condition. Why not fix them first before building more paths?

Sadly, one of the reasons seems to be that highway resurfacing activity is not very glamourous.

There will be no official naming of the pothole that Andy filled in.

On the other hand, a new path may – for a while – attract favourable publicity for its sponsors, at least until it too needs to be resurfaced.

Separately, the same report says that

  • the second resurfacing of Tadcaster Road is being delayed until the summer. Gas main works are currently taking place there.
  • promised repairs on National Cycle Network 65 will now not be completed until 2021/22.
  • £877,000, which was to have been spent this year on Highways Ward Committees schemes, will also be delayed until next year.

Weather likely to add to repairs backlog

Looks like we are in for another period of icy weather. It will make repairs to leisure and other paths even more important.

Many off road paths are now very muddy, reducing the choices available for those seeking their daily exercise.

Some sports facilities are also looking neglected and will be needed when lockdown ends.

There will be a a lot of work to do this summer.

Real time bus information reaches suburbs

Pleased to see that information screens, which indicate when the next bus will arrive, have finally reached Westfield.

They are common in other parts of the City

A screen has recently been installed at a stop on Tudor Road.

We hope that the programme will soon extend to cover busy stops like the ones on Green Lane and Foxwood Lane.

Still its some progress at a time when public transport services are facing huge pressures as a result of the pandemic

York Council set to scrap crime prevention fund

Image result for crime prevention gifs

The City’s £250,000 “Safer Communities Fund” is set to be scrapped.

The crime busting scheme was one of the first initiatives announced by the new LibDem/Green administration in July 2019.

Use of ward budgets for “target hardening” works over the last 2 decades had been a popular choice by local residents.

Stronger fencing, ,CCTV cameras, more robust street furniture, anti climb paint, snicket/alley closures, improved lighting and many other improvements had been funded from this source.

A report last year explained the purpose of the new Fund.

As part of the council’s Supplementary Budget Proposals agreed on
17 July Council, £250k was awarded to wards as a “Safer
Communities Fund”. The allocation of this funding, in proportion to
population in the normal way, is shown in Annex 1.

Building on the success of the Community Care fund it is proposed that the Safer Communities Fund is operated in a similar way in that it is added into ward revenue funds so that it can be used flexibly by wards on any projects that meet residents’ priorities in terms of creating safer communities.

It is suggested that the planned impact of the spend should be set out in advance and the subsequent outcomes evaluation (see para 25 below concerning evaluation).

Evaluation could be developed in partnership with the Community Safety Team who would also be able to provide evidence-based examples of good practice so that we are able to encourage community groups to put forward good proposals within a flexible budget regime which is operated in line with policies and procedures for ward funding.

PCSOs could also be consulted as part of the ward team as they will
be able to bring useful views to the table and this will provide an
excellent opportunity to strengthen ties between wards and the police.

While it is fair to say that the new scheme has remained something of a enigma to most residents, concerns about crime levels generally – and anti social behavior in particular – remain a high in several neighbourhoods.

In recent years, the Councils attempt to delegate spending power to local communities has been flawed.

A £1 million ward highways budget was divided between equally highways improvements and walking cycling schemes. The latter was spent almost entirely on projects in the south east part of the City.

A year later it is difficult to identify any roads or paths that have benefited. This may partly be because the Council fails to maintain a list of schemes on its web site with appropriate progress reports.

There is a stronger sense of local community in the wake of the pandemic.

People do want to be involved in decision making.

But the current processes used by the Council fail to fully engage people.

Perhaps the increased use of social media seen during the Lockdowns offers a clue as to how engagement levels can be raised in the future.

In the meantime, the Council must explain how it will improve the level of support that it offers to those policing our streets.

Coronavirus York update; 26th November 2020

Deaths and test results

There has been a big jump in the number of COVID deaths announced today. EIGHT new fatalities have been announced by the York Hospital Trust. Two occurred yesterday, four on Tuesday and two on Monday.

The cumulative total second wave death toll at the York and Scarborough hospitals has now reached 74

TWENTY NINE (29) additional positive test results announced today. Brings cumulative total to 5576

It appears that the threshold used by the government, to determine whether an area could be given a Tier 1 classification, was that the location must have fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 head of population. Very few areas met this criteria (Cornwall, Isle of Wight).

On the last validated numbers (21st Nov) York had 132.47 cases per 100k population.

On the present downward trajectory, York would pass below 100 cases threshold before the next review date. This is expected to be 10th December with any changes in classification effective from 16th December.

During the week ending 19th November, 3530 P2 tests were carried out in York. Of these, 8.6% proved to be positive.

This was a lower positivity rate than was seen during the previous week

Neighbourhood data has now been published. There is little change from yesterday.

We have reordered the table to reflect the cases per 100k of population rate.

This is one of the the figures that the government used to determine which Tier an area was allocated into.

Essentially the City needs to have a rate below 100 to be considered for Tier1 by 10th December.

Two neighbourhoods. Heslington and Clifton Without, are well above this rate at present.

The colour coding now reflects the central government’s presentation key

Tier 2 for York

York has been placed back into Tier 2 restrictions by the government. The new arrangements start on Tuesday.

The main impact is on pubs which will have to serve meals if they are to open while households will not be able to mix indoors.

All shops, hairdressers etc will still reopen from Tuesday.

The situation will be reviewed after a fortnight and may be changed again before Christmas

Outdoor events will be limited to 2000 spectators.

This will affect York City FC who were hoping to move into the new Community Stadium at Monks Cross.

However work at the stadium is still underway today with no sign of completion in sight. The Club may look to reopen Bootham Crescent. Social distancing at an all seater stadium would be easier to manage.

An update from the York Council on the stadium situation is long overdue.

It looks like high case rates in Scarborough may have contributed to York being placed in Tier 2 restrictions. There may be concerns about capacity at the York Hospital Trust which is also responsible for care in Scarborough. More details are available by clicking here

West and South Yorkshire have been placed into the highest TIER 3 category. This includes additional restrictions on travel to, and from, the areas.

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R growth rates government information
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Map of tier boudaries

COVID Winter Grant Scheme for the needy

The York Council will consider next week how it is to allocate the, government funded, Winter Grant scheme.

On Sunday 8 November 2020, the government announced a package of extra targeted financial support for those in need over the winter period. The COVID Winter Grant Scheme will see new funding issued to councils to support those most in need with the cost of food, energy and water bills and other associated costs.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will provide funding to the council, who will administer the scheme and provide direct assistance to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic.

This will include some families who normally have access to Free School Meals (FSM) during term time.

The funding allocation for York is £416,729.

Around £200,000 of the fund is set to be used to provide meals for needy children during the Christmas and Easter school holidays (i.e. those who would normally quality for Free School Meals)

Click to access

There are already many local schemes operating which provide support to local people hit by te pandemic. These include surplus food giveaways

Projects completed in Westfield

Resurfacing and white lining work on part of Gale Lane has now been completed

Gale Lane 7th November

Building work at the disabled centre on Ascot Way has now been completed. Staff have occupied the building and adjacent facilities like the bus shelter and the public notice board (although damaged) are now accessible again