York Council to develop York’s residential care options for children and young people

City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to consider plans to transform York’s existing residential care provision for children and young people in care at a meeting next week.

“The proposals would enable the council to better meet the needs of children and young people aged 9-18 years of age in York who need a period of residential support, allowing them to remain near their families and local communities while receiving specialist care”.

The Executive will be asked to approve plans to buy three new two/three bedroom buildings to provide specialist nurturing environments for children and young people in small groups of similar age.

The council’s current home would be remodelled under the proposals to provide supported accommodation for young people aged 16-18 years of age, providing a transition to independent living.

Under the plans, specialist foster carers would help support children and young people when they leave the residential accommodation, helping them to make the move back to a family environment with foster carers or to independent living, depending on their age.

The new buildings would be operated in partnership with external providers specialising in providing evidence-based therapeutic support to children and young with complex needs.

The Executive will be asked to approve plans for the council to borrow £1.36m to purchase the new buildings, with the payments being met through the existing revenue budgets of the Children, Education and Communities Directorate

The plan will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 18th July

Willow House Elderly Persons Home still empty

The former Willow House Elderly Persons Home on Long Close Lane is still empty.
Willow House today

It is nearly 3 years since residents were moved out of the home and the Council put the site on the open market.

In a £3 million deal, the site was set to be sold for a 126 bed student accommodation development.

However there was a controversy regarding public access to land which had been used for occasional leisure purposes. Labour blocked the plans in November 2017.

A year earlier it had been decided to close the home.

Willow House sales particulars

Lack of progress in developing what is a prime site next to the City walls was criticised last October when there was no progress to be seen behind the security railings.

No planning application has been submitted for the redevelopment of the site which is registered with estate agents Sanderson Weatherall. The agents say that their clients would prefer an “unconditional offer”.

The area being offered for sale includes the disputed “informal leisure” land

The building and surrounding land is now becoming something of an eyesore.

This is unfortunate as it is visible fro the City walls.

Only a few hundred metres away, on the other side of the inner ring road, the vacant site next to the Barbican has become an even bigger eyesore.

Area of land available for sale

Work starts on Burnholme elderly persons accommodation

Work has stared on building a new 80 bed care home at the Burnholme site.

When completed, the Council will have the right to fill 25 of the beds

A lot of building work going on at Burnholme

Work is also proceeding on renovating sports facilities on the Burnholme site. A new library complex has already opened.

The care home being built on the Fordlands Road site (by Octopus Health care) will be completed in the summer of 2020. A site for another home has been reserved in the new York Central development.

The progress being made on these sites contrasts with other projects aimed at addressing the needs of the City’s increasing elderly population on the west of the City.

Tenders are only now being sought for the long awaited elderly persons facility on the Lowfields site. Other specialist homes on the west of the City, such as Windsor House and Lincoln Court have already been cleared of their elderly occupants.

One embarrassment for the Council, is the elderly persons home at Oakhaven. Residents were controversially moved from this building 3 years ago.

Despite some temporary uses, the building has remained largely unused ever since.

The Council has not been able to say when work on a replacement will start.

The Council says that it will start building houses at Lowfield this summer. Many will be “shared ownership” although there seems to have been little research done on the size of the market – among those on the waiting list – for this type of tenure.

There is, however, a lot of demand from older people – currently occupying large council and housing association houses – who want to “downsize” to bungalows or flats.

Work has started on constructing the Tudor Road access onto the Lowfields site. A new lay-by has been provided nearby.

While we remain critical of the Councils plan to build on the playing field at Lowfield, it also now seems that they may have got the mix of home types wrong.

There should have been more bungalows.

The issue of the Yorspace” communal housing development – which is not classified as “affordable” – has also still not been resolved.

Cost of Ascot Way disabled centre soars by 37%

Council blames the “complexity” of the selected design for the increase.

A Council report published today reveals that the cost of the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children will increase from the originally budgeted figure of £4.3 million (January 2018) to an estimated £5.9 million.

Demolition works have started at Windsor House

This comes after the Council, In April 2018, had agreed to increase the proportion of the costs which would be funded by borrowing

£1.1 million of the increased costs will come from a Health service grant with the rest being transferred from the education budget.

It appears that some features  of the building are being “value engineered” out of the design.

The centre is being built on the site of the Windsor House elderly persons home. The neighbouring Lincoln Court independent living building is also being modernised and extended at the same time.

While both projects have been welcomed, concerns have been expressed about traffic congestion and parking issues in the area.

The impact of the developments on open space and sports facilities in the neighbourhood have also been criticised.

Details of the new budget allocations are being kept secret by the Council. It is unclear what promised features in the building may now be omitted.

The meeting to consider the budget increase is taking place on 18th June.

Council Tax support events for older people

Older residents are being encouraged to attend a drop-in event in York to find out if they could be eligible for Council Tax Support and other benefits too.

The events are being organised by City of York Council alongside Age UK York, Older Citizen’s Advocacy York, Tang Hall Big Local, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and other Advice York partners, and will take place on:

  • Wednesday 12 June, 12 to 3pm at Tang Hall Community Centre
  • Monday 24 June,12 to 3pm at New Earswick Folk Hall

To attend the events simply pop by for some refreshments and a chat. Resident’s will also need to bring along details of their income and fuel bills to check how much they can save. Find out more about Council Tax Support at www.york.gov.uk/counciltax

Residents can also visit drop-ins and community hubs through out the city for information and support, to find out more visit: www.york.gov.uk/BenefitsAdvice

Hungry children in York?

A national research organisation has published statistics which is claims means there are still pockets of “child poverty” in the City.

The new LibDem led Council will be expected to make an early difference in this area.

We have long campaigned for the York Council to devote more resources to improving public services in poorer neighbourhoods. The symptoms of derivation include lower life expectancy levels and poor health. The latter is often connected to the availability of healthy living facilities and advice.  Obesity levels in children are also an issue in many areas.

The report published by “End Child Poverty” uses national data to estimate the likelihood of child poverty in each ward in the City.

This data is tabulated. Hull road, Guildhall and Westfield are the three most vulnerable areas.

Child poverty rates in York wards

York is far from being the most needy City in the country.

….but there is sufficient objective and anecdotal evidence to suggest that local policies are failing.

The new Council could make a start by withdrawing the threat to build on open spaces and sports facilities in the Westfield area.

York residents urged to ‘help change a child’s life’ in 2019

City of York Council is urging local residents to help change a child’s life in 2019 by fostering.

With around 150 children and young people being supported by foster carers in York at any time, the authority is always looking for new foster carers to join the team.

Fostering involves looking after children in a safe and secure environment when they can’t live with their own families.

And as James Lee, from the council’s Fostering Team, explains, they’re not looking for just one type of carer:

“The children and young people who need our care are from a wide range of backgrounds and have very differing needs, so we need foster carers with different experiences and skills to help them. Many people consider fostering when their own children have left home and they have a bit more time and space, while others foster young people alongside their own children. If you have experience of living or working with children and young people, either in a work setting or at home, and think you might be able to help then please do get in touch.”

To find out more about how you can help local children by fostering call 01904 555678 or visit www.york.gov.uk/fostering

Council election manifestos compared

6. Planning and Social Care

A draft Local Plan agreed for submission in 2011 would have seen 575 homes per annum built in the City.

10 year housing completions trend in York

Labours “Big City” approach alternative was floated in 2013.  It would have seen the City grow by 25%. Many of the houses would have been built in the Green Belt, which would have been damaged irreparably. The plan never reached the public inquiry stage.

During the last three years an average of 1131 additional homes have been provided in the City each year.

This compares to an average, over the last 10 years, of 652.

The latest Local Plan – still not adopted – envisages 790 homes a year being provided. This is still much higher than ONS projects say is necessary and would require a sustained growth in jobs, the scale of which has not been not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Labours manifesto still advocates building in the Green Belt.

The number of York residents supported at home through care package is around 1800. About 650 residents are admitted to nursing or residential care each year. The figures are stable

Over the last 18 months the numbers of delayed discharges from hospital resulting from unavailable “care in the community” facilities has fluctuated between 4 and 11 patients.

There have been delays in the Councils elderly persons new accommodation strategy. Although some homes have closed, there has been little progress “on site” in building new facilities at Oakhaven, Lowfield, Haxby etc.