Oakhaven sale misses deadline

The Oakhaven elderly persons home on York Road has remained largely unused for over 5 years.

The closure of the home was controversial with the relatives of those resident there told that the site was needed for immediate redevelopment.

That proved not to be the case,

The Council finally agreed in November 2020 to a recommendation which said  

 “That approval be given to dispose of Oakhaven for the consideration set out in Annex 1 to the report in an off market sale with a backstop date for completion of 12 weeks and, should this backstop date not be achieved, to bring a further report back to Executive”.  

As no further report was forthcoming it was assumed that the sale had gone through?

Apparently that isn’t the case.

We are led to understand that discussions with the prospective purchaser (Burlington Care Limited) are still continuing. A legal sale contract has been drawn up but completion could be delayed further pending a determination of a planning application for the redevelopment the site.

Oakhaven redevelopment plans published in 2018

There are several outstanding questions..

  • When can residents expect to see work on site start?
  • When will it be completed?
  • Will there be a sale condition which requires development within a specified timeframe?

York taxpayers will be keen to see this saga brought to a conclusion. Any income from the sale can be used to reduce the Councils huge mountain of debt.

Those seeking a new home will reflect that, had the site been put on the market 3 or 4 years ago, then a development could have been completed by now.

Lowfields “public service building” future to be decided

The Council is set to allocate a plot on its Lowfields development for new residential facilities for people with learning difficulties.

The Councils “forward plan” summaries a proposal which would see “specialist accommodation built for 6 adults with a learning disability who have dementia and 6 other adults.

In addition to the 12 units, there will be up to 6 cluster flats for the first steps into independent living. The building of these units will enable a pathway through specialist supported accommodation for adults with a learning disability.

There will be staff on site 24/7.

The proposed site for this specialist accommodation is the Public Service Plot at Lowfield Green”.

The Councils Executive will be asked, at a meeting which is being held on on 24th June, to agree the specialist accommodation, the procurement of a housing provider to build the accommodation and a support provider to deliver the care and support element.

The public service building is located near to the Dijon Avenue entrance to the site

The public building was originally advertised as the location for a health centre and police station. After planning permission was granted, the Council jettisoned both of those proposed uses.

This is the original plan for the site published by the Council in 2017

The action group operating in the area is currently concerned about the dust and noise emanating from the site.

They are also anxious that the promised 3 year delivery timetable for the whole project will be extended with disruption continuing for several more years.

At least the plan to provide more specialist housing will remove one of the unknowns from the development plan.

Social worker recruitment drive starts in York

Do you have what it takes to ‘Step Up’?

See the source image

City of York Council is joining the call for more people to rise to the challenge and rewards of social work and make a real difference to vulnerable children and families.

Social work can be life changing for those you support. To do this, you will need to build relationships with families facing difficult times, show a lot of patience and be a good listener. You will also need good observational skills, analytical thinking and sound judgement to make the right decisions and protect children and or vulnerable adults. Social work regularly tests resilience, stamina, and resolve – all of which you will need to succeed.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:

The 14-month Step Up to Social Work programme gives successful applicants intensive, hands-on experience of working in a real-life social work role through placements with us here at City of York Council.

“Once you’ve completed and passed the course, you’ll be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work enabling you to register and practice as a social worker.”

Cllr Keith Orrell, Executive Member for Children and Education, said:

This is a unique opportunity to earn while you learn, as the Department for Education provides funding via a tax-free bursary payment of £19,833, over the duration of the programme, and payment of university fees for successful applicants.

“This will allow you to change or start a new career in social work and be able to continue to pay your bills and fund your living costs while you are studying. The programme runs once every two years, dependent on Government funding, so if you are interested, make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to apply.”

We are looking for strong graduates who have experience of working with vulnerable children, young people, families or adults and who can demonstrate their maturity and emotional resilience.

This is a postgraduate programme, so you will need to have either a minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification, for example an honours degree or a graduate certificate (can be in any subject), or a minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a postgraduate qualification (level 7 or above), for example a Master’s degree or a Postgraduate Certificate/ Postgraduate Diploma, in a discipline other than social work.

You should also have GCSEs in English or English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or the new grade 4 and above (or an approved equivalent). You will need to show all of your original certificates to us as part of the application and assessment process. If you cannot find these, you can order replacements online

We are particularly interested in applications from men and from candidates who are Black, Asian or from Minority Ethnic groups as these groups are under-represented in this area of social work.

Your 14-month programme will pass very quickly, and if your local authority has vacancies you will be guaranteed an interview for a social worker role in children and families statutory social work. The starting salary for a newly qualified social worker in this region is around £27,600, moving to £31,300 upon successful completion of the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment as part of our Social Work Academy for Newly Qualified Social Workers.

For more information visit the Step Up to Social Work website

Online applications are open until 7 April 2021, followed by regional assessment centres (virtual) for candidates successful at the initial application stage. Students can expect to start the programme in January 2022, completing their training in March 2023.

More changes for health and care services in York

Proposal to establish new York Health and Care Alliance
Image result for health and care images

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.

The Romans are coming

It looks like the proposal to construct a Roman visitor attraction on Rougier Street is set to get planning permission next week.

The old Northern House 1960’s office block will be demolished and replaced with 211 apartments, new offices and the Roman history visitor attraction at ground floor level.

The proposed Roman attraction, which has a working title of Eboracum, would based on archaeological discoveries from a two-year dig on the site. It would be three times the size of the Jorvik attraction and is aiming to attract 500,000 visitors per year.

At its maximum height the new building will be of a similar height to the tallest point of the Aviva building and the Malmaison Hotel to either side.

There are a number of objections mainly relating to the size of the proposed building. There are also a large number (69) of letters of support.

Details of the application which will be determined on 24th February can be read by clicking here

The application is recommended for approval.

The development is expected to bring a major jobs boost the the City in the wake of the economic problems caused by the pandemic.

Haxby Hall

See the source image
Existing Haxby Hall building

The same meeting is expected to approve the replacement of the Haxby Hall care home with a new 65 bedroomed residential and dementia care facility.

The new care home would be managed by Yorkare Homes Ltd.

The application, which is recommended for approval, says that the existing ambulance station building will be retained.

The plans have been welcomed by social care professionals who comment,

” The proposal to develop a 65 bed care home on the Haxby Hall site is welcomed. The city has a shortage of care home accommodation and specifically for those living with dementia.

Based on national benchmarking York has a current shortage of almost 600 care bedrooms, this application will help to address this shortfall by not only providing an increased number of bedrooms but also by providing a modern, accessible facilities for residents.

I am particularly supportive of the fact that each bedroom in this proposal has an en-suite bathroom and corridors are wide enough to allow those with walking frames or wheelchair users to pass, which the existing care home does not provide.

The terraces on the upper floors will enable all residents to have access to outdoor space and nature. The way the building has been designed will allow natural light into bedrooms, corridors and communal spaces, which is a key feature in design for older person’s accommodation.

The specific provision for those living with dementia, with dementia friendly design elements and a focus on resident’s wellbeing is also strongly welcomed.

Details can be found by clicking here

Tender issued for extra care housing at Lowfield Green

City of York Council says it is seeking a specialist to build and operate a new development at Lowfield Green. The council is planning a new independent living scheme with extra care. People who live there will have on-site support and, when and where it is needed, carers will be available to visit the residents in their own homes.

It is over 10 years since a similar proposal to construct a older persons village on the site of the former Lowfields school buildings was first discussed.

Planned Lowfields Care Village 2010

Since then, the Council has been hopelessly indecisive about how such an ambition might be fulfilled.

It remains to be seen whether any social landlords will have the ability to fund older persons accommodation as the effects of the pandemic remain unclear.

There is an area reserved for housing with extra care on the site. This will be in addition to Lowfield Green’s 18 apartments for people aged over 55 and its 26 bungalows.

The tender is proposing a development with a minimum of 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments where residents can access on-site 24-hour care if needed.

The Council says that the delivery of the scheme must be by a Registered Social Landlord (RSL). and that “a number have already expressed an interest in the opportunity”. The care provider will be registered with the Carer Quality Commission (CQC) as ‘Support in Your Own Home’ and graded as ‘Good’ or above.

The tender document is now live, and developers and operators are invited to consider and apply to construct and operate an extra care housing development.

For more detail, please go to www.yortender.co.uk and search for tender reference: DN518540. The closing date for selection questionnaire (SQ) submissions is 22 February 2021 at 12 noon.

York residents face 5% Council Tax increase

Papers published today by the York Council confirm that a 4.99% increase in Council Tax levels will be implemented on 1st April.

Image result for big bill gifs

Most of the increase is being ringfenced and will be spent on social care.

  • £4.4m will be spent on the costs supporting adult social care staff and enabling residents to remain in their homes for longer.
  • £1.4m will go to support children and young people across the city, including further funding for social care staff.
Eclectic mix of ideas for spending on “Covid recovery”

£2.5m will go on creating a “Covid-19 Recovery Fund” (see above) while £1/2 million will bolster waste and street environment services (to include additional staffing on waste rounds, improved city centre cleaning and effective weed control).

There are no proposals to increase the amount invested in improving key public services like road and footpath maintenance.

£200,000 however be spent developing a new transport plan for the City.

Residents have until the end of January to return budget consultation forms. Early results may raise some eyebrows!

, .

York Councils children’s services facing £5 million overspend

Image result for vulnerable children images

It looks like the budget for children’s specialist services at the York Council will be overspent by 25% during the current financial year.

Much of the deficit arises from increased fostering and adoptions although an extra £1.1 million has been spent on placing vulnerable children in accommodation outside the City.

The Looked After Children population had been stable, in the range 190-210 at any one time, for several years.

However, a report being considered next week reveals a big increase in numbers over the last 2 years.  

“In October 2018 there were only 4 individual children in care proceedings. As at the end of September 2020 there were 55 sets of proceedings on 93 individual children in place”.   

The report goes on to say, “Safeguarding Interventions are predicted to overspend by approximately £1,139k, mainly due to increases in the Court and Child Protection Teams who are dealing with the increase in cases. Legal fees are predicted to overspend by approximately £220k. Children protection numbers, following a recalibration spike, have now returned to national average levels”.

The projected costs of the local Community Hubs, which were set up at the beginning of lockdown (and have transitioned into a new method of working), is £131,000. This will be funded from the Covid 19 emergency budget provided by the government.

It also looks like the home to school transport budget will also overspend by around £2 million.

“The main increase in numbers have been at post 16/19 where because of the city now being able to provide more specialist education provision for this group of students more locally, subsequently we have had to provide more transport to the likes of York College, Askham Bryan, Choose 2 and Blueberry Academy. The changes in legislation to allow Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) to ages 19-25, resulting in significantly more students accessing this option, has significantly increased our transport spend accordingly”.

The overall net overspend is expected to be £2.5 million after cost savings and a £1.1 million investment from COVID support funding are factored in.

Projects completed in Westfield

Resurfacing and white lining work on part of Gale Lane has now been completed

Gale Lane 7th November

Building work at the disabled centre on Ascot Way has now been completed. Staff have occupied the building and adjacent facilities like the bus shelter and the public notice board (although damaged) are now accessible again

York Council promises to treat icy cycle paths…

….but remains inactive on weeds, hedges and other obstructions

The York Council will discuss next week whether to continue a trial which is aimed at removing ice from some cycle paths.  A report says that a two tractors operated last winter brushing snow and ice for a small number of off road cycle tracks .

None of these were in the Acomb, Westfield or rural areas.

Cycle paths treated to prevent icing 2019/20

 Only a small part of the Tadcaster Road cycle path was treated. “The routes were approximately 18km & 25km long and started and finished at Hazel Court James Street (see map). The service completed 59 runs in total using 9000 litres of pathway KA, the structure friendly non-corrosive solution, and 12000 litres of Probrine, effectively a salt water brine mix”.

The cost of doing the work was £47,000.

According to the report, the City of York Council Cycle Officer says feedback from cyclists can be summarised as “the trial is a vast improvement and that they’d like it extending to other parts of the network which were not included in the trial”.

The winter was (again) relatively mild without sustained periods of sub zero temperatures.

Cyclists in the suburbs and villages will view this report with some scepticism. Once again there seems to have  been no objective attempt made to identify the needs of longer distance and leisure cyclists in west York.

Too many off road paths are impeded by weeds, thorn bushes and detritus. Several are now badly rutted. No regular maintenance inspections take place.

The York Council must start taking the needs of all cyclist seriously. Otherwise it will be guilty of posturing.

It should start by increasing the number of inspections that it undertakes.

It should also agree a routine maintenance programme covering sweeping, weed treatment and hedge cutting on off road paths.  

It must also acknowledge that periodically it will have to renew notices and refresh white lines. At the moment many of these have just faded away.

Weeds obstruct Tadcaster Road cycle path
More weeds breaking up the path surface
Thorn branches are hazard on cycle paths
Detritus on oaths which are not regularly swept
More detritus