Foxwood in Bloom contest – “Stunning displays”

Judges have praised the high standard of entries in this years Foxwood in Bloom contest.

Residents were asked to nominate baskets and tubs which made the greatest contribution to the street scene in the area.  Judges described some of the entries as “stunning”

Prize winners are being notified this weekend and full results will be announced next week.

The contest is organised by the Foxwood Residents Association and has become a regular fixture on the calendar.

This years judge was Matt Reid from Easigrass gardens

Last year the Foxwood Residents Association won a gold award in the Yorkshire in Bloom contest. This year the Acomb Alive traders organisation have entered the Front Street area in a similar contest organised by Yorkshire in Bloom

Now York Council becomes a property speculator

The City of York Council is to invest nearly £15 million in purchasing a City centre retail and office development.

Swinegate Court

Although the business case remains confidential, the Council claims that the £813,000 in annual rent, that it expects to get from properties in “Swinegate Court”, will pay off the principal and interest charges on its extra borrowing.

The Council outbid several private investors to secure the deal.

It is likely that the Council, will seek a 50-year loan to buy the properties.

While it is true that, over the last few centuries, the City has always in the long term benefited from the increasing value of land that it has purchased, there is always a short-term risk in such ventures.

The properties in question are in a secondary shopping area and, with many City centre retailers under pressure partly because of the Councils projection of the area as a “playground” destination, rental growth is far from guaranteed.

This may well prove to be a prudent long term investment, but eyebrows may be raised when a Council, apparently struggling to fulfil its promise to improve basic public service standards, finds the resources to dabble in the property market.

Another York community stadium “work starting” announcement

Déjà vu seeks stadium naming rights!

Land sale value falling

As we predicted earlier in the year, the new community stadium at Monks Cross will not be ready for occupation by the rugby and football Clubs until the middle of 2019.

As recently as April, the Council was still saying the work would be completed in late 2018.

Now it seems that the Council will – at its own risk- authorise building work to start before the final financial contracts have been signed. A report says that this will put £500,000 potentially at risk.

The report also says that a £2.7 million reduction in build costs will be achieved by a cross subsidy from commercial building works. They report that this means that build costs will be £34 million although any saving will be added to the “contingency” reserve, which is built into the budget.

So probably no saving for taxpayers.

The figures quoted in the report do not mention the millions already spent on administration. Other elements of the project bring the total cost to £42 million.

It fails to highlight the risks being taken on by the Council as the principal leaseholder of the southern commercial block.

The report also says the Council will get a lower price (£10.76m) when it sells land for the southern block and the lease on the east stand restaurants. This is £2.6 million less than forecast in March 2016.

The Council have announced that GLL will continue to run the Yearsley swimming pool at least until 2024. The Yearsley subsidy from taxpayers is  £340,000 pa.

The Monks Cross plans still incorporate an additional new – largely inessential – swimming pool.

The Council says that it will not enter a deal with the existing York Libraries Trust for use of the new on-site library. They rather ominously say this is because the intend to re-tender for a new library service operator in 2018.

The proposed stadium name sponsor has walked away from the deal.

We hope that something finally comes out of the project. The present Council finishes its term of office in May 2019 only weeks before the latest stadium opening date. We hope that they will have something to celebrate.

Salford City stadium almost finished in 18 months

However, they may reflect that, since funding for a stadium was first identified in 2009, ten years will have passed during which delay after delay has occurred.

The deal currently on the table will see the Councils leisure centres like Energise and Yearsley transferred over to the management of GLL, with all that may entail for staff and charges.

It is salutary to note that the Salford football club, who will ply their trade in the 6th tier of English football with York City this season, have managed to plan and build a tidy stadium in only 18 months. It is only slightly smaller than the déjà vu stadium in York but has been developed at only a fraction of the York cost.

Latest and previous timetable

More on Chesney Field “improvements”

The Council have now Emailed local Councillors giving an outline of the “improvements” that they hope to make on Chesney Field in Foxwood.

The main – and most controversial – proposal is to fence off several of the existing pitches. This is ostensibly to prevent dog fouling although similar initiatives in the Foxwood and Cornlands parks have had limited success.

The plan would conflict with the main role of what is now the largest area of public open space remaining in the Westfield area.

The Council say they are inviting residents to suggest improvements for the rest of the area, citing a “trim track” and “outdoor gym” as options.

The annual survey of public opinion, currently being conducted in the area, is already asking for views on the provision of an outdoor gym either on Chesney Field or on the Foxwood Park..

So far there seems to be limited interest.

The Foxwood Residents Association at their meeting yesterday criticised the Councils handling of the proposals. The Association has still not been consulted on the plans and will, therefore, invite a senior council official to their next meeting, to discuss the communications break down.

In the meantime the “drop in” consultation event is still scheduled to take place next Tuesday (25th) at the Acorn Rugby Club between 4:00pm and 6:00pm

The residents meeting also heard from Ward Councillor Sheena Jackson who outlined an official response to several proposed changes to parking restrictions in the area. The Association felt that additional restrictions were necessary on part of Cranfield Place and on Foxwood Lane near its junction with Bellhouse Way (high numbers). If the Association is not formally consulted in the meantime, they will lobby the decision making meeting which is scheduled to take place on 14th September.

 

 

Chesneys Field future – meeting on Tuesday

The Council is delivering flyers inviting some people to an event where they say “improvements” to Chesney’s Field will be revealed.

The “drop in” is scheduled to take place next Tuesday at the Acomb Rugby Club starting at 4:00pm

The Council has not said what “improvements” they plan. They have not consulted either local Ward Councillors or the Residents Association.

A disrespectful approach destined to stir up the maximum amount of hostility and resentment we think!

 

More York parks fly the Green Flag

It has been announced that Clarence Garden has retained Green Park status, putting it alongside four other parks in the city that also have the award.

Clarence Garden joins Rowntree Park, West Bank Park, Rawcliffe Country Park and Glen Gardens. These parks and garden were awarded green flag status in 2016.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said: “It’s great to see that another community space has been awarded Green Flag status and this is testament to the hard work of both the friends groups and council staff who work to make these areas welcoming places for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

The Green Flag Awards recognise well managed parks and open spaces for all to enjoy and is the benchmark national standard in the UK. Launched in 1996, it promotes excellence in recreational green areas and standards are measured against eight criteria:

  • A welcoming place
  • Healthy, safe and secure
  • Clean and well maintained
  • Sustainability
  • Conservation and heritage
  • Community involvement
  • Marketing
  • Management

For more info on York’s parks visit https://www.york.gov.uk/directory/9/people_and_communities_directory/category/10

Task group to address mental health issues among York students

A report highlighting health problems faced by further and higher education students in York was accepted by York’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Wednesday 12 July, as was its recommendation that a task group led by the city’s universities and colleges is set up to address the issues found.

Recognising that students’ health needs – and mental health needs in particular – are changing, the report was commissioned by the Health and Wellbeing Board from City of York Council to help guide commissioners and service providers to meet student need.

While addressing health needs in the round, the report found that mental health has overtaken traditional issues such as sexual health, drugs and alcohol as the main area of concern among students. It suggests measures including improving preventative services and creating a greater understanding and openness around mental health to reduce stigma and so prevent delays in accessing support.

Of a survey of 1,800 students, the report found 45 per cent reported having either a diagnosed or an undiagnosed mental health condition. Students reported a large number of factors affecting their mental wellbeing, including academic pressures, finance, social relationships and physical health problems.  (more…)