View more tweets

£16,955 on offer to Westfield residents

The government has allocated nearly £17,000 to be spent over the next 4 years on community projects in the Westfield Ward. The “Neighbourhood Grant” is a minimum figure and comes from a £30 million national budget.
A Community Development Foundation (CDF) has been set up to administer the programme although Ministers are keen to maximise the involvement of community organisations. It is expected that local groups will match the grants with money or time.
The programme complements the “Community Organiser” (so called “Big Society”) initiative.
A “Community First” panel will be set up in Westfield and will help to determine priorities and monitor progress. It will be comprised entirely of local residents. The CDF are currently contacting voluntary organisations in the Ward to brief them on the opportunities available.
Steps are already being taken to set up the Westfield Community First Panel which will comprise between 4 & 8 local residents. Expressions of interest are welcome. More details can be found at http://cdf.org.uk/
In the longer term it is hoped to sustain investment in better community facilities by encouraging people and businesses to dedicate endowments to continuing the programme.

QUESTIONS YOU JUST CAN’T ANSWER

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

Why do banks charge a fee on ‘insufficient funds’ when they know there is not enough?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Whose idea was it to put an ‘S’ in the word ‘lisp’?

What is the speed of darkness?

Why is it that people say they ‘slept like a baby’ when babies wake up every two hours?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it’s going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Do married people live longer than single ones or does it only seem longer?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Did you ever stop and wonder…….

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze
these pink dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?’

Who was the first person to say, ‘See that chicken there… I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta it’s bum.’

Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs !

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on……

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?

York Library use still increasing

Vistor numbers at York’s libraries continued to increase last year. Much of the change, which reverses the national trend, can be put down to the modernisation programme implemented by the last Liberal Democrat Council administration.
By the end of April, usage had reached an all time high with approaching 1 million residents using their local library. The last few months have seen visitor numbers sustained.

click to enlarge

Westfield security improvements

Some of the delayed improvements which were to have been funded from the Councils “target hardening fund” are now being implemented.

Tedder Road park railings


These include the Tedder Road park railings which are designed to reduce the number of stray balls that find their way into properties which lie opposite the park.
We understand that the plan to install a CCTV camera to provide surveillance of the back lane between Beaconsfield Street and Front Street has also been agreed.

Shower gel approach won’t work

Library Square


So we’re told by the Council Leadership that a new initiative “Reinvigorate York” will focus on three key areas which aim to improve traffic and pedestrian flow, improve the “tourist, retail and cultural experience of visitors” and to rid the centre of unnecessary clutter such as some bollards and signs.
It’s really a rebranding of the “York Pride” initiative of 2003 which was aimed at cleaning up a City where public service standards had slipped.
The “removal of clutter” part of the scheme at least, is apparently being backed by Ron Cooke from the Civic Trust. Ron has made progress gradually with his campaign to declutter City centre streets. For example, intrusive signs near the Minster in Petergate were replaced by low level units. The same has happened at a dozen other City centre locations over the last 2 years……… and there are relatively inexpensive changes which could be made to ageing signs in Blake Street and Davygate
However there is a paradox to be addressed. If the Council is to remove street clutter like cycle stands then it risks losing the battle to encourage people to walk and cycle into the City centre. The alternative would be more traffic (or economic decline). Ambitious plans to provide covered and secure cycle parking facilities – at one time the redundant tunnel under the Coppergate centre was mooted as a possibility – are currently stalled because of high costs.
Unobtrusive – but still secure – cycle parking locations are difficult to find, but are essential if cyclists are not to hijack the nearest lamppost, seat or set of railings.
Similarly, City centre traffic lights may frustrate some and may “ruin” the odd photograph. But would anyone want to risk pedestrian safety by removing them altogether? Pedestrian casualties remain a source of concern – as we have seen recently – in the City centre.
….& it’s hardly surprising if, at the end of a busy summer season, some public street furniture is showing signs of wear and tear. That is why – as happens every year – there is money in the Councils budget for repair and maintenance.
If substantial investment in renewing the streetscape is to be made then the money won’t come from existing budgets. Apart from the Deangate Piazza scheme, there is no other major City centre funding commitment included in the Councils 4 year capital programme. The Council has also recently committed more of its future resources to funding additional park and ride sites, putting still more pressure on limited capital investment resources.
The omens for political support are not good. Last year the local Labour leadership vigorously opposed the plans which led to the paving of Library Square – just the type of initiative that is needed to raise standards in the “public realm”.
It is also disingenuous to suggest that the Council is waiting for “government grant” decisions before announcing specific additional improvement schemes. The governments funding commitments to Local Authorities, for the economic recovery period, have been known for the last 12 months.
The truth is that any investment will have to come principally from the private sector (who will want something in return), with heritage conservation schemes possibly in line for some National Lottery funding.
The sooner that a City Centre Action Plan is agreed, through the Local Development Plan process, the sooner sensible expenditure priorities can be decided.

New Barbican hotel

It’s good to see that the Hilton Group are displaying plans for the new hotel which they hope to build next to the Barbican.
Commercial property firm Broadhall unveiled proposals for the 165-bedroom hotel costing between £19 and 20 million, with conference and leisure facilities.
The Hilton Garden Inn Hotel will take 62 weeks to complete if planning permission is granted by the City of York Council.
When the last plans for a hotel on this site were considered by the Planning Committee in 2007 a decision was deferred to allow for amendments to be made to the plans. Unfortunately this meant that the proposal, from Premier Inn, was dropped in favour of another site (on Blossom Street).
The economic recession bit and development money became tight. So the site has remained empty for 4 years.
The development is vital if the adjacent auditorium is to continue as a concert hall. Ticket sales for concerts have been fairly average since it reopened and it badly needs to expand the use of the building during the day time. Conferences are the most obvious market opportunity and the availability of overnight accommodation next door – together with break out rooms and dining facilities – would be a big boost fro the centre.
Directly the development would provide several dozen new jobs but equally important the arrival of more conferences in the City would provide a much wider boost for the local economy.

Planned Barbican Hotel

Park and Ride decision

click to enlarge


We will probably never know whether York’s new park and ride sites would have got the go ahead without the substantial subsidy that local taxpayers have now been asked to make into the project. The Wigginton Road site has been shelved but Poppleton and Askham Bar are still in the running for government funding.
Around £6 million will now come from local sources with about half of that likely to be borrowed. That means an annual cost – for principal and interest payments – of about £270,000 a year with this potentially being offset by the surplus fares income, of between £50,000 & £250,000, which may be generated from the Askham Bar and Poppleton Park sites combined.
A lot will depend on the specification for the new bus fleet which will serve these sites. The original intention was to seek ultra low emission vehicles (probably plug in hybrids) but this may not now be possible.
The A59 corridor was also to have been used to trial a bus contract which would have seen greater integration between the Park and Ride and normal bus services in the area.
Residents in Moor Lane will be wondering what the future of the existing park and ride car park will be when the site moves to Sim Hills. Originally it was assumed that Tesco would buy the site as an extension to their car park. The figures assumed by the new Council suggest that some development on the site is a possibility (subject to planning consent).
So still a lot of questions to be answered when the project gets its formal “go ahead” by central government at the end of the year.

Cheaper, easier bus travel for York?

FirstGroup , the UK’s largest bus and rail operator, intends to be the first bus operator outside London to offer customers a ‘touch in, touch out’ contactless fare payment option. The new ticket machines, designed to read contactless debit or credit cards, in addition to “ITSO” smartcards such as concessionary bus passes, will be introduced to buses from the autumn and will initially allow customers with an ITSO smartcard to touch in. Contactless bank cards will be accepted across England from late 2012.
First’s new ticketing system will act much like London’s Oyster Card; customers will simply ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’ using their debit or credit card, taking less than a second, and avoiding the need to carry the correct change. The system will also allow FirstGroup to offer a range of tickets including capping the daily fare.
But, unlike Oyster, customers won’t need to carry an additional card or worry about pre-payment or topping up. Customers using the contactless cards will simply see the cost of the fare deducted from their bank or credit card balance.
With the continuing rapid advancement of mobile phone technology, FirstGroup has also ensured that its new system has the capability to accept payment via mobile phone.
The news should also be welcomed by the York Council as it has a long standing commitment to introducing a cashless payment option. The new system could also provide a platform for the introduction of “cross ticketing”, avoiding costly back office manual revenue apportionment systems.
The system also allows for the maximum daily fare to be capped, potentially encouraging greater use of public transport.
A similar system has been suggested for introduction at York’s car parks, thus eliminating the need for a driver to “forecast” how long they intend to stay at pre payment sites.
FirstGroup’s UK Bus division carries approximately 2.5 million customers a day in more than 40 major towns and cities. As well as York, the new ticketing technology will be implemented to all of First’s services in England, including Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Wigan, Stoke, Northampton, Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol, Ipswich, Norwich, Slough and Bracknell.
The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker MP, welcomed the news: “I want to see smart ticketing rolled out across public transport in England as quickly as possible and this announcement from FirstGroup is a positive step towards achieving that.”