Micklegate Bar reopened

Micklegate Bar has reopened to eastbound traffic. All lanes are now open on Blossom Street.

According to Council sources the contractor responsible for removing the temporary road closure signs did not act promptly to remove them when the gas main replacement work was completed.

We think that the Council could have done much better in keeping users updated on the reasons for the delays.

Further down Tadcaster Road, the gas main replacement works are still behind schedule, but there is one piece of good news.

It appears that there will be no total closure of St Helens Road when the works reach that junction. Instead 3 way temporary traffic lights will be used.

It remains unclear when this part of the project will actually start.

Litter shame on A64

The pile of litter continue to grow next to a layby near Tadcaster. Problems on the A64 were reported several weeks ago but without any lasting improvement.

Deliberate fly tipping has now added to the woes.

Its a real shame that people don’t take their litter home with them and that enforcement action is rarely effective.

It is a shame as this is the first sight that some visitors will get as they approach York.

Elsewhere we have re-reported two fly tipping and leaf detritus issues in the little Green Lane area.

Graffiti on utility boxes in Windsor Garth has been reported.

Reports are coming in that 8 trees, planted by volunteers in Dickson Park during the summer, have been vandalised. The incident is being investigated by the local residents association.

Rates relief applied to business rates

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An initial £17.5m relief has been applied to rates bills which arrive with York businesses this week.

Having joined local and regional partners in making the case to central government for further business rates relief, City of York council delayed issuing rates bills until after the budget announcement on Wednesday 3 March.

The Chancellor announced that eligible retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery business will receive a rates discount of:

  • 100% for the first three months, totalling £17.5m for eligible York businesses
  • Up to 66% for the remainder of the 2020/21 financial year

The total value of the rates relief will depend on how many businesses reach the discount cap set by the government:

For eligible retail, hospitality, leisure properties the £2m for businesses that were required to close as at 5 January 2021, and up to £105,000 for business permitted to open at that date.

For eligible nursery properties the relief will be capped at £105,000 per business, regardless of the open or closed status.

Following government guidance, eligible businesses will receive two bills. The first will show a 100% discount from April 2021. The council will then issue an adjusted bill from 1st July 2021 showing 66% discount for the period from 1st July 2021 to 31st March 2022.

Businesses which do not have access to their registered premises to collect their bill can contact the rates team by e-mail at business.rates@york.gov.uk.

Businesses that wish to opt out of the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Rate discount scheme, or Nursery discount scheme may do so by contacting business.rates@york.gov.uk before 30th April 2022. Please note that any business opting out of this scheme cannot withdraw their refusal for either all or part of the financial year.

Good news and the bad news

Good to see that the Post Box on Beagle Ridge Drive has finally been reinstated. It was first sealed off over 6 months ago

Meanwhile, across the street, the long term empty Council bungalow – which the Council has been unable to re-let – is regularly being vandalised. Several other properties have also been targeted.

We are beginning to lose confidence in the York Councils housing management officials.

The Council has been without a permanent head for its Council housing team for nearly a year now. Estate management vacancies are not being filled despite the housing accounts showing a substantial surplus.

York deserves better

Meanwhile the next Councils meeting agenda has been published. Anyone hoping for evidence that Councillors are addressing the major decline in public service standards will be disappointed.

With NHS staff being undervalued, unemployment rates rising, highway network maintenance standards at a new low, street level crime on the rise and housing in a management vacuum, you might have expected at least the official Labour opposition to highlight the issues. In fact you could reasonably expect most back bench Councillors of all parties to start to seriously question what is going wrong.

But no. Labour use an agenda motion to agonise about transgender recognition. They want to instruct schools to use trans childrens “preferred name pronoun”.

Election for Crime and Fire Commissioner

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections May 6, 2021

The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) elections will take place on Thursday, May 6; the same day as the North Yorkshire County Council Elections.

There may be more interest in this poll because of recent publicity about street violence and increasing problems with anti-social behavior.

However, the post is likely to be scrapped shortly if the government goes ahead with its threat to impose a Mayor, with wide ranging powers, on North Yorkshire.

The PFCC’s salary and office costs have spiraled to over £1 million a year. It is expected that most of the candidates will promise to minimise those costs and instead invest the money into front line policing services.

PFCCs are elected every four years and are the representatives who oversee a police force and fire service area.

There will be one PFCC elected for all North Yorkshire. The winner will replace the current commissioner Julia Mulligan, who has come to the end of her term.

While the Council are putting COVID-19 safety measures in place for personal voting at the polling stations some residents may prefer to vote by post.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is Tuesday 20 April at 5pm. For a proxy vote the deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 27 April.

This is a link to the application form for a postal vote.

https://www.york.gov.uk/…/vote-by-post-application-form

The candidates announced so far (the closing date for nominations is 8th April 2021)

  • Philip Allott (Public relations consultant, Knaresborough) Conservative
  • Cllr. James Barker. (Retired army officer York) Lib Dem 
  • Alison Hume (TV Screen writer York. Credited with writing an episode of “The Vice” 20 years ago!) Labour
  • Keith Tordoff MBE. (Retired police officer & sweet shop owner Pately Bridge) Independent 

Result of 2016 election for North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner

First Choice Voting: Conservative 53,078 Labour 34,351 Independent 30,984 Lib Dem 13,856. As no candidate won over 50%, the second preferences of the Independent and Lib Dem candidates were distributed to the two leading candidates, giving this final result: Conservative 65,018, Labour 44,759

Key Dates

  • Notice of Election – by 15 March 2021
  • Appointment and Notice of Election Agents – by 8 April 2021
  • Receipt of Nominations and Withdrawal of Candidates – by 8 April 2021
  • Statement of Persons Nominated – by 9 April 2021
  • Last date for Registration – by 19 April 2021
  • Receipt of Postal Vote Applications – by 20 April 2021
  • Receipt of Proxy Applications – by 27 April 2021
  • Notice of Poll – by 27 April 2021
  • Appointment of Polling and Counting Agents – by 28 April 2021
  • First Date to Reissue Lost or Spoilt Postal Vote Packs – 29 April 2021
  • Receipt of Emergency Proxy Vote Applications – by 5pm 6 May 2021 (Polling Day)
  • Return of Election Expenses – by 16 July 2021

More changes for health and care services in York

Proposal to establish new York Health and Care Alliance
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City of York Council’s Executive will consider plans to further improve health and social care services across the city at a meeting on Thursday 18 March. 

Building on the successes of York’s vaccination rollout, city-wide testing and support for people who are shielding, the proposals to establish a Health and Social Care Alliance for York have been led by a number of health and social care partners in the city, including the council, NHS commissioners and providers, and voluntary sector organisations.

The aim of the Alliance will be to strengthen health, care and public services in the city by building healthcare locally around residents, rather than around organisations.  By doing so, the council and its partners can better tackle health inequalities which existed before COVID, but have been magnified by it, and improve the general health and wellbeing of the York population.

The proposals will also work to lock-in some of the positive work seen throughout the pandemic, which has been achieved by partners working in a more collaborative and effective manner due to the challenges of the pandemic.  This work includes:

  • supporting people with COVID-19 and spotting signs of deterioration through the COVID Hub Single Point of Access
  • delivering city wide testing, tracing and outbreak management (for example with universities and colleges, or with care homes)
  • supporting people access primary care, therapy and specialist nursing whilst shielding
  • delivering an exemplary COVID vaccination effort with many partners contributing to a swift and very successful rollout of the vaccine so far.

The proposals have been developed in response to the recent publication of the Government’s ‘Integration and Innovation’ White Paper, which sets out a series of reforms to health and care which the Government intend to implement at the beginning of April 2022.

This paper, published in February, also sets out how Integrated Care Systems (ICS) are expected to become embedded in legislation by April 2022 and therefore have statutory responsibilities, as part of reforms to the Health and Social Care Act. This Integrated Care System covers an area which includes York, as well as North Yorkshire, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

If approved, the proposals would see the York Health and Social Care Alliance run in shadow form during the 2021-22 financial year, in order to further develop governance and accountability structures. Once all partners have agreed to the yet-to-be-proposed terms of reference, the board will be formalised in 2022, when the new national legislation takes effect.

The Alliance membership will comprise different organisations involved in commissioning or delivering health and care in York:

  • Vale of York CCG
  • City of York Council
  • York Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust
  • Nimbuscare (Primary care services provider in York)
  • Community and Voluntary Services
  • St Leonard’s Hospice
  • York Schools and Academies Board
  • Representatives of Primary Care networks.

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).

See the source image
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,

Consultation on improving standards in private rented homes in York

Support for a new licensing scheme to further improve the quality and energy efficiency of some of York’s privately-rented homes could lead to a 10-week consultation.

The current Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licencing scheme has raised standards in over 1,000 HMOs which are subject to the national HMO scheme.

A targeted additional HMO licensing scheme which focusses on the wards where there is the most evidence of poorer housing conditions and issues with poorer management, would aim to raise standards in another 2,000 HMOs.  Landlords would benefit from a level playing field, including being trained in property management which would also improve the quality and value of the property and encourage tenants to stay longer.

Introducing an additional licensing scheme for Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) with three or four occupants, must be preceded by a consultation. This would target the wards of Hull Road, Guildhall, Clifton, Fishergate, Heworth, Micklegate, Osbaldwick and Derwent; and Fulford and Heslington where the most HMOs are in the city.

Progress on York Outer Ring Road upgrade

Compulsory Purchase Orders may be needed

Proposals to progress the upgrade of the York Outer Ring Road will be considered by the Council Executive at a meeting next week.

If agreed, the Council would have the option to use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) for land to dual and upgrade the outer ring road – but only as a last resort.

To progress the scheme, the council needs to purchase private farmland to create an extra lane and improved pedestrian and cycle facilities along a 7.5km stretch of the outer ring road,  between A19 Rawcliffe to A1036 Little Hopgrove.

A report published ahead of the council’s Executive next Thursday (18 March) outlines how the council hopes to reach private agreement with all the landowners, but needs to start the legal process to make sure a CPO is ready, if it’s required.

The Executive will also receive an update on the next steps to deliver the project. Officers are analysing 3500 comments from a recent public consultation before submitting a planning application for the scheme.

The council has secured £58m of external funding for the £66m scheme, which will also include upgrades and extra lanes at seven roundabouts.  £25m funding comes from the Department of Transport, while £33m comes from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Council help for bees

The City of York Council says that it is taking action to make York more pollinator friendly.

Roundabout on Hull Road last summer showed what could be achieved

There are over 4,000 species of insects in the UK that carry out pollination of our native wild plants and food crops, but they are under threat and in decline due to habitat loss and excessive pesticide use.

The council wants to introduce a new Pollinator Strategy so that it can ensure local residents, businesses and landowners are provided with information to help protect and increase pollinators.

Insects like bumblebees, butterflies and beetles all provide a vital part in pollination of our native wild plants and our food crops, ensuring the protection of our city’s biodiversity.

The new strategy aims to protect, increase and enhance the amount of pollinator habitats on council owned or managed land, and help to improve the status of any locally threatened species.

The most significant factors leading to these declines in pollinator numbers includes habitat loss (food, shelter and nesting), pesticides which have harmful effects on honeybees, wild bees and butterflies and climate change, which has long term effects.

A copy of the strategy can be read by clicking here

The Council’s initiative is welcomed. In particular, the the commitment to neighbourhood input into initiatives.

“Bee hotels” like this one in Foxwood have been established by some residents groups.

What is lacking in the the document is a recognition that much of the solution to the lack of pollinator attractive plants can only be addressed by the more thoughtful use of privately owned land.

In particular, more can be done in peoples gardens.

A ready source of advice, and a proactive approach to publicity, is needed from the York Council.

If approved, the council will adopt the new Pollinator Strategy and ensure the needs of pollinators are represented in local plans, policy and guidance – to help us all protect and increase pollinators.

The strategy will be taken to an Executive meeting for approval on Thursday 18 March from 5.30pm and will be available to watch online afterwards.