Children’s magazine Shine re-launches online

The much loved children’s magazine Shine, has re-launched to ensure locals to York are kept up to date with the latest clubs, events and sports happening across the city of York.

After some time away the magazine has now re-launched online and serves as a one-stop website for all you need to know about local activities for children and young people .Aimed at those aged between 5 and 18 years old, this resource has launched just in time to prepare your diaries for the 6 week holidays.

Browse the online calendars for Sports, Play, Parks, Arts and Library activities and events across the York area. You can also read the Shine Blog to find out a little bit more about courses, holiday camps and clubs to get involved in.

Organisers and leaders of children’s groups can register as a Shine user and have activities listed in the magazine’s calendar. The full magazine can be downloaded online.

Some of the exciting highlights happening this summer include:

West Bank Park Summer Fair 2018:

Free entry and on-site parking available at this year’s Summer Fair at West Bank Park from 1-4pm on June 24th.

‘Play In A Week’ – York Theatre Royal:

Join a fast-paced rehearsal week at York Theatre Royal. This year ages 8-14 years old can partake in the performance of the Jungle Book. Places cost £95 and are open to ages 8-14 years old. The course runs from August 13th to August 17th. For those aged 5-8years old, The Dream Play rehearsal week is taking place August 20th to August 24th.

‘Squash Camps 2018’ – Queen Margaret’s School:

Take part in a 3 day course to learn and develop you squash skills. The course runs between 9am-12pm a day for 3 days. Courses cost £45 per person. Course dates are July 17th-19th and July 31st– August 2nd.

Visit www.yor-ok.org.uk/shine for more details. And you can find the Shine blog at www.shineyork.wordpress.com 

COUNCIL TO CONSIDER WITHDRAWING LAND FOR SALE AROUND CLIFFORD’S TOWER

We reported with incredulity in October 2016 that the plans were set to get the go ahead

Final nail in coffin of ugly visitor centre – controversial land sale set to be reversed

The land is part of Clifford’s Tower car-park and was originally part of a package to support English Heritage plans to build a £5.2m visitor centre at the foot of the tower.  English Heritage announced their intention to stop development plans after the council revealed plans for Castle Gateway”.

Cllr Ian Gillies and Cllr Andrew Waller, Leader and Deputy Leader of City of York Council jointly confirmed:

“English Heritage have made clear they no longer plan to build a visitor centre at the foot of Clifford’s Tower.  After English Heritage announced their intention to no longer proceed, residents told us they were concerned construction could still go ahead as planning was still in force.  As a result we have decided to review the offer of leasehold of the land making it clear that the original visitor centre plans will not go ahead.    We remain committed to working in partnership with English Heritage about this important site and it is hoped that the Executive will decide not  to proceed with the land sale.”

Beauty in the eye of the bank manager

The debt laden and controversial “Spark” container village has now applied for permission not to implement the site screening which was a condition of approval in 2017.

Planning permission screening 2017

At that time, several objectors had described the old shipping containers as an eyesore. Most saw the plan as inappropriate for a sensitive City centre location and the expectation was that the site would be better developed on a permanent basis.

The site is owned by the York Council introducing a potential conflict of interest when consideration of the planning applications.

There was a strong view expressed that, if temporary planning permission was granted, then the buildings and scaffolding should be painted in a neutral colour.  This would minimise the impact that the development would have on the neighbourhood.

Spark April 2018

In the event, the developers surprised everyone by offering to clad the structure in wood panelling.

The Planning Committee can only judge and determine the plans that are placed before them. The cladding did mitigate some of the concerns about visual impact. The committee (wrongly in our view) then granted a temporary planning permission for 3 years.

It would be over a year before the permission was implemented with the developers ignoring several of the conditions including the needs of disabled users.

The containers haven’t been painted in a neutral colour.

Spark letter – can’t afford screening 2018

A quasi graffiti mortgage has been added to the Piccadilly frontage.

The York Council has been slow to take enforcement action on the planning contraventions. Not surprisingly other developers are crying “foul”. They say that special treatment arises out of the Council ownership conflict (over £50,000 of taxpayer’s money is currently at risk on the project). The remedy for that lies in enforcing the lease conditions for the land.

In the meantime, the media, social and otherwise, will once again no doubt be mobilised to support the change to the planning permission.

Hopefully the planning committee will develop a backbone and ensure that there is a level playing field for all who wish to trade in the City,

Safeguarding Week 2018 in York

From the 25 to the 29 June, York will be promoting Safeguarding Week 2018, organised by the  Safeguarding Adults Board and Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in collaboration with a variety of local organisations. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and share in a city wide conversation about the work of safeguarding partnerships across the region and the prevention of dangers concerning vulnerable individuals in the 21st century.

This year the Safeguarding Adults Board. and City of York Council have chosen to focus awareness on financial abuse. Over the course of the week, there  will be a variety of opportunities to learn about available support and preventative measures you can take  at events across the city and via our social media channels.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health said:
“It is so important for all of us to educate ourselves as to the risks of financial scams and the realities of financial abuse. Safeguarding Week is an opportunity to inform our residents of how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the devastating effects of this kind of abuse and to safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Financial abuse can show itself in a multitude of ways; from financial control within a relationship, to the targeting of vulnerable individuals from organised crime groups in the form of financial scams. It is important to stay informed and educated in order to notice when something doesn’t look quite right.

The month of June also marks Scam Awareness month, an annual opportunity to both raise public awareness and stand against crimes and predatory practices which impact the lives of millions across the country.

Visit citizensadvice.org.uk for more information and resources on preventing, spotting and reporting scams.  (more…)

Changes to lanes at Wetherby Road roundabout from this evening

Motorists are asked to take extra care at the Wetherby Road roundabout on the outer ring road as work is undertaken to narrow the road lanes after this evening’s peak traffic.

This reduction in lane width is needed to ensure the safety of road users and construction workers. 

Road barriers and a reduced speed limit of 30 miles per hour will also be in place to reinforce safety whilst traveling through the road works.

In addition, there will be a single lane entry onto the roundabout off-peak from Monday to Friday, with the existing two-lane entry retained at morning and afternoon peaks.

The roundabout is the first of seven to be widened to a three-lane approach and two-lane exit in order to reduce congestion on the outer ring road.

The existing two lane entry and single lane exit will be in place through this phase of the works, which are expected to last at least 12 weeks.

The council is reassuring motorists that the restrictions should only cause minor delays.   (more…)

Future plans for York libraries

 Council to tender for new service provider

Acomb Explore Library

City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to consider proposals for the future development of York’s Libraries and Archives at a meeting later this month (21 June).

If the proposals are agreed, the council will look to appoint an operator for the service for the next 15 years with a contract of £32 million; maintaining the existing level of funding despite pressure on budgets

The existing five-year contract with Explore Libraries and Archives Mutual Limited expires on 31 March 2019.

The move is likely to cause concern that the substantial progress made by the current operator will be jeopardised. Working together the Council and contractor have managed to sustain the existing network of facilities across the whole City – unlike the situation in  most other parts of the country.

The tender documents may raise the prospect of reduced hours or “volunteer only”  manning at some small branches.

Some of the Councils “outsourcing” deals have failed spectacularly.

Yesterday the Warden Call CIC was revealed to have crashed financially and it will now be brought back “in house”.  “Make it York” has had a troubled couple of years while GLL has been criticised for chasing footfall, since it took over the Councils leisure centres, at the expense of a timetable with a broader appeal.

The procurement plans follow a citywide consultation from November 2017 – February 2018, which 2,484 people responded to, giving their views on the council’s vision for the future of the city’s library and archives service.

Key elements of the consultation feedback include:

  • The need to retain key services such as borrowing books, providing a reading and studying space, and providing access to computers
  • The desirability of providing a reading cafe on site
  • The importance of the library as a community hub with opening hours to reflect the needs of local residents
  • Libraries providing state of the art learning spaces
  • Maximising the best use of the buildings through partnership working
  • Respondents broadly supported for the vision of moving away from stand alone library buildings and recognised the need for partnerships to create services co-located with other community amenities.

Key proposals for the future service include:
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New strategy for homelessness prevention in York

 Halving the number of rough sleepers and nearly £200,000 investment in our homelessness prevention work will be among the five priorities for the council’s new, five-year homelessness strategy.

Preventing Homelessness Together 2018-23 will be discussed by senior councillors on 21 June. It states a continued commitment to early help and prevention and outlines the council’s response to recent legislation.

(more…)

York mental health support shortlisted for national BBC Radio 4 award

The team behind City of York Council’s mental health support line and crisis bed service have been shortlisted for a national award, selected by BBC Radio 4.

The service has been shortlisted in BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind awards which looks to celebrate people’s experiences of exceptional mental health care and will recognise the unsung heroes who helped make the difference. The team is one of three that have been shortlisted in the group category from a total of over 1,000 nominations. The winners will be announced on the All in the Mind show on Tuesday 26 June.
(more…)

York Council social enterprise company crashes

We warned in 2013 (click) that the Council plan, to hive off some social care services to a new company, were “highly risky”.

The plan was to start a “Be Independent” social enterprise to run warden call and disabled equipment loan services.

Most of the income for the new organisation would still come from the Council. It was claimed though that it could complete for other business thereby reducing the demands on taxpayers.

5 years later and it is clear that the company has failed. This is not entirely surprising as the draft  “business plan” (still available to view here “on line”) published in 2013 actually forecast that the operation would be loss making

A report the Council’s Executive next week suggests that the service be brought back under the Councils direct control.

The number of customers using the service has fallen from 2878 to 2448, about half of which are subsidised by the Council.

“Be Independent” have failed to win any new contracts during the last 5 years and lost an existing contract with the NHS to provide equipment services in the Vale of York.

The company is now loss making.

In the last financial year, it recorded a working deficit of £167,000.

If the work transfers back to the Council it will cost taxpayers an additional £95,000 a year.

One of the negative aspects of hiving off activities is that some jobs get a pay hike. The Council says that staff at “Be Independent” in the main enjoy the same conditions of service as Council employees. TUPE would therefore apply to any transferees.

The Council report fails to identify the salaries being paid to all staff although £273,000 pa is listed as “Directors remuneration”. (The latest accounts registered with Company House for 2017 list Directors remuneration as £106.443).

There was until last year one CYC appointed Director (Cllr Funnell) but this appointment was terminated on 31st March 2017. It is unclear who has been charged with safeguarding the Councils interests on the “Be Independent” board since then.

There is no comparison in the papers between the 2013 business plan and outturns.

External legal advice is apparently  being taken by the Council.