Guildhall lease being signed

The Council is apparently on the verge of signing a lease which will see the University of York take over the running of the York Guildhall. It was reported some time ago that they will try to establish a business club on the premises.


The Council has reserved a right to use the Council chamber for their meetings.

The hugely expensive (£21.7 million)  renovation project has already run over budget. There are fears that further cost increases may be in the pipeline.

A report to a meeting taking place today, says

The early project challenges associated with the underpinning, piling, high river levels and archaeology, which extended the contract period and costs were report last November, along with the agreed mitigation measures and budget support. There is ongoing budget pressure in relation to the projected contract out-turn and this will continue to be repeated through future monitoring reports. However, the project is on track to deliver the agreed outcomes and the lease agreement with University of York Science Park Ltd should be concluded in the next quarter, securing the agreed income generation”

The comment about the University lease has prompted some social media comment with conservation groups keen to ensure that public access is maintained at least for the key historic parts of the  site (Guildhall, committee room 1, Council chamber).

The original hope had been that more access would be available to access previously “off limits” areas.

These include the historic battlement river frontage and the, now subterranean, “Common Hall Lane”

So far the Council has given no guarantees on this issue.

In turn “York Walls” has now tweeted saying that the Universities record on allowing public access to other historical buildings such as Kings Manor and Heslington Hall gives them cause of concern.

Some work to do here we think!

Future of Willow House site

Willow House stands abandoned

Residents are being invited to start a “conversation” about plans for the Willow House site next to the Bar Walls.

It is the first sign of activity by the Council on a property which has been empty and unused for over 5 years. Together with the former Oakhaven care home in Acomb, it is one of the Councils major ongoing embarrassments.

News that any redevelopment planning application will not be ready for over 12 months will just add to residents frustrations.

Given the value of the site (over £3 million), it is a surprise that the Council are going to seek to redevelop the site itself using its “Shape Homes” front organisation.

The Council says, “The first drop-in event on the site of the former Willow House on Walmgate, will start sharing ideas between residents and architects from Stirling Prize-winners Mikhail Riches. This will include asking residents about the area and what they would want from new homes and open spaces.

It is hoped that the site which was an outdated care home can be added to the council’s ambitious Housing Delivery Programme. The programme will deliver 600 homes with twice the number of affordable homes required by planning and built to be highly energy efficient.

This will be the first of a series of three resident consultation events for this site, the same approach as was used successfully on other Housing Delivery Programme sites at Duncombe Barracks, Burnholme and Ordnance Lane”.

Willow House site
Willow House

The drop-in event will take place on 29 June from 4-7pm on the green next to Walmgate Bar. Residents can also join a walk around the site at 5pm. In the autumn, we’ll invite residents to a hands-on design workshop with the team and, early in the new year, we will also organise a local exhibition and an online survey on the plans to date. A full planning application is planned to be submitted by summer 2022.

Barbican site

Meanwhile, just over the road from Willow House, the long term empty building site next to the Barbican has apparently been occupied by squatters. Whether this improves the appearance of one of York’s biggest eyesores – and missed opportunities – remains to be seen.

Certainly, according to media reports, the protestors have a very naïve view of what can be achieved using the Council’s compulsory purchase powers.

Yet fundamentally they are right. Persimmons – the owners – have consistently failed to explain why they haven’t developed what is a valuable prime site. Their position is doubly confusing when judged against a background of continuing heavy demand for city centre properties in the City.

They have exacerbated the problem by failing to keep the area tidy.

We doubt that the York Council would do any better – they have left too many of their own properties vacant in the City (see above) to able to preach.

There may be a germ of an good idea, though, if a “Friends of Barbican Park” group could take over the maintenance of the area. At least in the short term, it has potential to be a welcome “natural area” in what otherwise is a largely concrete enclave.

Certainly those who walk the City Walls would appreciate an improved view.

York young people create new Social Media Guide

Young people across York have created a Social Media Guide to provide their peers with information and advice about using social media safely.

The guidance has been created in conjunction with child and adolescent development psychology experts from York St John University. A host of materials has been created through consultation workshops with young people, including lesson packs for schools, information for young people and a webpage for parents. It’s hoped that the materials will help young people to develop a healthy relationship with social media, enjoying the benefits, whilst recognising the potential negative impact it can have on mental health and self confidence.

The social media pack is available online at, click on the ‘Staying Safe Online – Young Persons Social Media Guide’ box at the bottom of the page.

New web page for school leavers now available, Q&A taking place June 23rd

Students finishing year 11 this year can now access a wide variety of resources designed to help make the transition from secondary school to either further education or employment easier.

On Wednesday June 23 at 5:30pm, City of York Council is hosting a Facebook Live Q and A session providing insights from senior council staff and local industry professionals. Chaired by Councillor Daryl Smalley panellists include Glyn Jones from York College and Liam Sibley from the Rebel Business School.

This event represents a fantastic chance for young people to ask any question they might have about the transition from secondary education, and learn more about the opportunities available to them.

You can tune in to the event by visiting, a recording of the event will be available via the same link. 

School leavers’ are also encouraged to check out a new dedicated webpage, which provides valuable links and information regarding further education and apprenticeship schemes, including where to access further information, advice and support. The page can be found at

Post-16 experts have also pulled together a handy fact sheet capturing a wide range of different options for school leavers, which is also available on the webpage. 

Budding entrepreneurs of all ages can also take flexible, online courses from Rebel Business School, to help provide information and advice on how to start and develop their own businesses. Visit for more information. 

‘Try before you buy’ scheme for E-Cycles and more e-scooters coming.

Image result for e cycle gifs

City of York Council has been awarded £133,040 from the Department for Transport to offer York residents the chance to try an e-cycle before considering purchasing one at a discounted price.

The ‘E-Cycle Switch’ scheme is set to launch next month offering anyone that lives, works or studies in York the opportunity to borrow an e-cycle from a participating local bike shop and trial it for 7 days with no obligation to buy. Once their trial is complete, participants will be eligible for a £300 discount off e-cycles at any participating bike shop.

Around 60% of car journeys are less than 5 miles, meaning the simple switch to more sustainable modes of transport can have a positive impact on health, local air quality and congestion across the city. Additionally, the carbon emission of an electric cycles is less than 10% of a petrol fuelled car over its lifecycle.

Over the past 12 months retailers across the UK have seen a spike in e-cycle sales as lockdown encouraged many to choose active travel in their local area. However, cost has proven to be a significant barrier to those wishing to try out this sustainable mode of transport.

Variations of the scheme are being finalised to accommodate for the inclusion of adapted e-cycles with an increased discount and also for an extended trial period and increased discount for those currently unemployed and seeking employment.

Once the scheme goes live, participants will be able to sign up online via the iTravel website to take part in the ‘try before you buy’ scheme. Working with participating local bike shops across the city, customers will be able to choose their preferred shop and liaise directly with the shop to collect an e-cycle that is right for them. Once the trial is complete, there will be the option the purchase any e-cycle from any of the participating retailers with a discount of £300.

E-Scooter trial to be extended in York

City of York Council has agreed to extend the e-scooter trial in York for a further 6 months.

The DfT has approved an extension of the current e-scooter trials taking place across the country until the 31 March 2022. The extension of the trial includes York, a city which has been part of the trial group since October 2020.

This extension will provide extra time for all trial areas to reach expected capacity of e-scooters as restrictions continue to ease. In addition, the extended period will allow for the DfT to gather additional data to inform future legislation.

The e-scooter and e-bike service currently provided by TIER mobility, supports a ‘green’ restart for local travel across the city and has provided a sustainable and convenient alternative for residents and visitors whilst public transport capacity was restricted. Since the service went live around 10,000 unique riders have made almost 40,000 trips around the city using a TIER e-scooter or e-bike, covering over 140,000 miles of York’s roads and cycle paths.

The six month extension of the trial is also accompanied by an expansion of the maximum number of e-scooters now permitted in the city, following the successful take-up of the service. The maximum number has been raised from 700 to 1,000 to ensure growing demand for the service is met, covering more than 45 parking areas across York.

Coronavirus York updates; 22nd June 2021

Hospital patients and Deaths

The number of hospital patients continues to trend upwards. However there are no patients in intensive care and there have been no additional deaths

Test results

59 positive test results were announced today. This brings the cumulative total up to 12,967

The number of cases in the City has increased from 189 to 216

The rate /100k population is now 102.56.

Infection rates in York are now higher than the county, regional and national levels.


For the first time since March, we now have a neighbourhood with an infection rate above 200. The area concerned covers the University, Heslington and Fulford (rate currently 229.4). Rates are also high in adjacent “dormitory” areas like Fulford Road and Tang Hall.

We did see a similar exponential growth in cases in the Heslington area in September/October last year. Then the infection rate peaked at 1720. The spike was generally put down to a lack of social distancing by students newly arrived in the City. A lockdown reduced the problem. Although that solution is not available at present, the University authorities are arranging a flash vaccination programme on the campus.

Although it won’t be popular with everyone, we think that the idea of a “COVID passport” may have to be revived. Only those with a double dose vaccination and/or a recent negative test would be allowed into venues where close social contact is possible. Everyone is due to be offered double dose vaccinations before September.


Updated vaccination stats are not yet available


  • 5720 PCR test were conducted during the week ending 17th June 2021
  • Of these, 3.6% were positive. That is more than the 3.2% recorded during the previous period
  • 3159 “lateral flow” tests were also conducted on 21st June 2021.

Hob Moor incident – Court decision

The media are reporting that a woman arrested following a disturbing incident on Hob Moor last June has received a suspended prison sentence for the offence.

The woman is understood to have left the City.

101 busy

Meanwhile the police are facing a growing wave of crime reports which is leaving their control room very busy.

Below is the official North Yorkshire Police Online reporting system for those reporting non urgent crime that would prefer to do it this way rather than the 101 telephone reporting system.

Getting public service standards back to normal?

Slow but noticeable progress this week in getting the backlog of grass cutting reduced.

but mixed success on the Thanet Road Sports area

Meanwhile some Councillors have passed on a briefing that they have received about delays in emptying green waste bins. It is a shame that the Council have not been more candid with residents about their problems.

The briefing said,

Week Commencing 14th June 2021

Last week we undertook recovery operations of an evening and on Saturday and all garden waste that was scheduled to be collected on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th June has been collected.

Garden waste that was outstanding from Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th will NOT be collected. Information has been placed on the web pages, at the contact centre and on social media to update this position. Residents have been advised to return their garden waste bins to their property and present them at their next collection. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

All household waste and recycling (including missed bins were collected last week and on Saturday) and commercial waste collections are also up to date.

Week commencing 21st June 2021

We have a full garden waste service deployed today and for the rest of the week so the service is back to some sort of ‘normality’. Please note that garden waste bins missed on 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th June will be prioritised this week to ensure we collect all of these bins first.

Drivers update

In terms of HGV drivers, we have recently had one driver start with us with a further driver beginning on 5th July. Following our promotion on the radio/web, WWY have received more driver applications and we are hopeful that we will have a further 2 drivers provided to work with CYC (through WWY) in the next fortnight.

It is a shame that similar updates aren’t put on the Councils social media web sites.

We currently don’t know why there is such a backlog of grass cutting or who is making the decisions about what gets cut and when (agreed frequency is a minimum of one every 3 weeks). Some areas haven’t been mowed for 2 months.

Similarly residents are being told when the next application of weed killer will be made to gutters and hard surfaced areas. Weeds are now growing strongly following recent rain.

All in all, the Councils communications unit has proved to be ineffective in getting basic information, about public service standards and issues, across to the people who need the information most.

James House £2.383 million overspend

A Council report being considered later this week has confirmed the scale of the delays and cost overruns on the James House homeless persons project.

The completed scheme was £2.776m over budget and finished 15 months later than forecast.

An independent auditor found that the Council had changed the specification of the contract and was therefore liable for most of the increased costs.

The original cost of the conversion of James House  was budgeted at £4.12 million

York parents encouraged to Look Say Sing Play at Acomb Explore

Parents and carers in York are being invited to attend a free drop in event at Acomb Explore Library later this month [Wednesday 30 June] to find out how they can use everyday activities to help their child develop.

City of York Council is working with the NSPCC on its ‘Look Say Sing Play’ campaign, which provides tips and hints on how parents and carers can help develop their child’s brain and strengthen their bond, to help them give their child the best start in life.

The campaign is based on extensive research which shows that every time parents talk, sing or play with their baby, they’re not just bonding, but also building the child’s brain connections.

Parents can pop in to the event at Acomb Explore from 11-1pm on Wednesday 30 June to get a free goody bag and chat to professionals, including health visitors, about they can help their child’s development.

They can also drop in from 2-4pm on the same day to take part in free activities with their children.

More information about Look Say Sing Play, including videos showing some of the activities in action, is available at

Coronvirus York updates; 21st June 2021

Hospital patients and deaths

A further increase in the number of COVID patients being cared for by the York Hospital Trust has been announced today. There are now 7 patients being cared for.

There have been no further deaths. The cumulative toll remains at 593.

Test results

55 positive test results today. Brings the cumulative total up to 12.908

The number of cases in the City has increased from 175 to 189

Rate /100k population has risen to 89.74. It will exceed 100 tomorrow (Tuesday) and is expected to continue on an upward trajectory. It is currently increasing faster than is being seen in other parts of the region and nationally.

NB The peak infection rate during the Spring 2020 wave was the 96.9 seen on 5/5/20. Death rates were, however, much higher at that time.



1288 vaccinations were undertaken yesterday (Sunday)


  • 5510 PCR tests were conducted during the week ending 16th June 2021
  • Of these, 3.2% were found to be positive. That is a reduction on the 3.3% positivity found during the previous period.
  • 3769 “lateral flow” tests were also conducted on 20th June.