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Unreliable vehicles hitting recycling collection quality in York

Recycling collections have become less reliable recently. The drop in public service quality reflects a similar drop in reliability seen last year.

Part of the problem can be traced to a lack of urgency shown by the Council in ordering replacements for an aging, worn out, fleet. Although new trucks have now been ordered there is an inevitable delay before they actually arrive in the City.

Recycling collections have been delayed on each of the last 5 days. Today Foxwood, Woodthorpe, Copmanthorpe and parts of Askham Bryan were affected.

Millthorpe School sports centre

According to the Council, “A new £1 million sports facility at Millthorpe School will benefit schools and community groups across the city when it is completed at the end of October”.

The project’s progress compares well with the proposal to provide an alternative for the game area on Kingsway West closed by the Council two year ago. Discussions on a replacement have only just started.

The Council says that the “floodlit 3G artificial grass pitch will be available all year round to pupils at Millthorpe and nearby Scarcroft Primary School, together with other York schools and community groups.

It has been developed through the City of York Council scheme to create additional school places at Scarcroft Primary School and helps to increase the amount of outdoor space available to the school.

Community groups will be able to use the pitch outside of the school day and during the school holidays. Hamilton Panthers, York City Kick About and Bishopthorpe White Rose are already lined up to take advantage of the new facility.

The facility is close to the existing sports hall and will be accessible for outside users via the school’s Philadelphia Terrace entrance.  The development includes on-site car parking spaces next to the pitch, with provision for disabled visitors, secure cycle parking and electric vehicle charging.

The pitch is suitable for junior 11-a-side football and features include energy-efficient floodlighting, along with portable goals and pitch markings to meet the requirements of a variety of different game formats and age ranges”.

The charges that will apply for use of he facilities haven’t been published. 

Coronavirus York updates; 19th October 2020

Deaths and test results

A further COVID related death was recorded by the York Hospital Trust on Saturday. That takes the total number of fatalities to 10 since the 3rd October.

The numbers are still lower than were recorded during April and May earlier in the year. The table below shows the distribution by neighbourhood during the first wave of infections. This is influenced by the location of hospitals, care homes etc.

There have been a further 87 (EIGHTY SEVEN) new positive test results announced today. This brings the total, since the start of the pandemic, to 2773.
The rate per 100,000 population peaked at 289.64 last week. That figure is higher than the regional or UK average. Although still increasing, the infection rate is now showing signs of stabilising.

The government is now only publishing the neighbourhood infection figures 5 days in arrears. We can now monitor trends.
The principle area of concern remains the University/Heslington/Fulford neighbourhood.

Council say we won’t go into Tier 3 restrictions

Sharon Stoltz, Director of Public Health, said;

“We are aware of media speculation that York could soon move to tier 3.

There are currently no plans to move York into Tier 3 and we have not received anything from central government to suggest that this is likely.

“This weekend saw tier 2 restrictions come in place to slow the spread of Coronavirus. I want to thank residents and businesses for their hard work in adapting to the new restrictions and I would ask that everyone continues to practice ‘Hands. Face. Space’, to stay at home if asked to by test and trace, and to get a test if you have symptoms.

“We will of course continue to share any updates as soon as we have them.”

Coronavirus York updates; 18th October 2020

Deaths and test results

131 (ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY ONE) additional positive test results today bringing the total to 2686.

No additional York hospital deaths today.

Infection rate still increasing but seems to be stabilising at an average of around 80 new cases each day.

Rate per 100,000 population was 281 on Thursday. That is higher than the national rate.

Government has still not restarted publishing results at a neighbourhood level. There has been no explanation of the change in policy. These are the figures for the most recently published 7 day period to 13th October

York is now in the top 25 of affected areas in the country

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How the virus grew in York during last 6 weeks

There has been a lot of agonising in the City about how Coronavirus cases – and more recently deaths – have grown so quickly.

Some “blame” visitors, some the concentration of hospitality outlets while others choose to single out “students”.

The authorities can’t, or won’t, reveal the linkages between “contacts” and the source and locations of infections, so the truth is that no one really knows how the infection chain developed so quickly.

It is true to say, though, that the increase in cases had begun before large numbers of students started arriving in the City in mid September.

The following maps (taken from government figures click) demonstrate that the Heslington area was largely free of the coronavirus in early September. It also had a relatively low population.

The arrival of large numbers of students does seem to have triggered a significant rise is cases. The neighbourhood is now one of the worst hit in the region.

When the government last published its neighbourhood figures, the Heslington/University/Fulford area had had 119 cases during the previous week. With over 1000 students and staff now understood to be self isolating, the confirmed case numbers may now have risen again.

COVID cases early September
COVID cases late September
COVID cases early October

Only a post pandemic public inquiry will shed a full light on the nature of the decisions about reopening Universities, which were made during the summer months, and who made them.

It does appear though that the authorities underestimated the threat of virus transmission outside the strict teaching and study environment.

In the meantime, we must hope that Tier 2 restrictions, coupled to voluntary strict quarantining arrangements, will produce a downturn in case numbers across the whole City.

Council report on COVID recovery plan

The Council’s Executive are considering an update on their COVID recovery plan at a meeting on Thursday. It can be read by clicking here

This is the latest list of “can and cannot”

What the restrictions mean

In a bid to stem the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our area the new Government rules, which apply to everyone in York, mean that:

  • you must not meet socially with friends and family indoors, in any setting, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them – this includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants
  • you may continue to see friends and family you do not live with outside, including in a garden or other outdoor space – when you do so you must not meet in a group of more than 6 people
  • visiting indoor hospitality/leisure/retail settings is restricted to 1 household – 2 households must not meet in these settings, unless they are in a support bubble
  • you should only visit care homes in exceptional circumstances, see more information on visiting family and friends in care homes
  • you should only travel for essential reasons, you can continue to travel for work or to access education but should try to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • you can go on holiday outside of the area, but you should only do this with people you live with, or have formed a support bubble with, and dependant on any local restrictions in the area you’re visiting
  • you can play a team sport only when formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation, and sports-governing body guidance has been issued
  • wedding receptions and celebrations for up to 15 people are permitted in the form of a sit-down meal and in COVID secure settings, not in private dwellings
  • up to 30 people can attend a funeral (York Crematorium capacity is 18), and 15 people can attend a wake in a COVID secure setting, not in private dwellings
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID secure manner, other than businesses which remain closed by law
  • certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10.00pm and 5.00am
  • serving food and drink will be restricted to table service only
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off their premises, can continue to do so after 10.00pm as long as this is through a delivery service, click-and-collect, or drive-thru
  • leisure and entertainment venues are required to close between 10.00pm to 5.00am
  • you should only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work
  • you should work from home wherever possible
  • exercise classes will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with

Be aware that:

  • schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • you can meet people outside in parks or open spaces, following ‘the rule of 6’ and remembering ‘hands. face, space’
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors

Latest planning application for the Westfield Ward

Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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9 Ascot Court, Gale Lane, York YO24 3AE

Installation of balcony to first floor rear elevation and replace existing window with French doors

Reference   20/01877/FUL

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning online web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

More on financial threat to Energise and other GLL leisure facilities in York

In May, a media report confirmed that the GLL group – who manage several leisure facilities in York including Energise on Cornlands Road and the Yearsley swimming pool – were in financial difficulty.

Energise on Cornlands Road

They asked the York Council for support.

The move may partly explain why more progress has not been made in bringing new facilities at the York Community stadium site into use.

The York City Council said it “will continue to work closely with GLL.” 

At the time, Ian Floyd, the council’s interim head of paid services, said: “Throughout the city’s response to coronavirus we understand that the businesses we work with have had to adapt due to temporary closures, working differently and dealing with the financial demands this places on them.

We are working with our partners across the city to ensure we support them to work safely, and we continue to follow government guidance regarding our ongoing service contracts.

“City of York Council supports GLL through our leisure services contract via monthly payments. This is usually paid in arrears. Following government guidance, the council have paid three months of the contract fee upfront, covering April to June 2020.

“We understand that GLL have furloughed the majority of staff at these venues and have confirmed they are continuing to pay 100% of their salaries until May. City of York Council will continue to work closely with GLL, to work through the contract implications of the Coronavirus response which closed all public leisure facilities in March.

There has been no recent update from the Council although some facilities did subsequently reopen on a limited basis.

Coronavirus York updates; 17th October 2020

Deaths and test results

TWO additional COVID related deaths reported at the York Hospital Trust, That makes 6 in the last week.

81 (EIGHTY ONE) new positive test results were announced today bringing the cumulative total to 2555.

The peak cases (per 100k population) reached a new high of 279.19 on Monday although there may be the first signs emerging that the rate of increase has stabilised since then. Too soon to be sure though.

Regrettably, for the second day in a row, the government has failed to publish case level numbers at neighbourhood (MSOA) level. Given that this is the first day of the new Tier 2 restrictions in the City, we think that the government should be publishing more – not less – background information.

Government warning on ill judged transport schemes

The government has issued a warning to councils about squandering the money made available from the Emergency Active Travel Fund. It will be reported to a meeting next week.

… a significant minority of instances where schemes were, frankly,
nowhere near good enough

A notable number of councils used their funding poorly and were simply out of step with the needs of their local communities. I saw or heard from the public and parliamentary colleagues about far too many instances where temporary cycle lanes were unused due to their location and design, while their creation left motor traffic backed up alongside them; of wide pavements causing unnecessary congestion in town centres; and other issues that many have, rightly, reacted angrily too. Government Minister

Vitamin supplements

One aspect of the COVID pandemic which intrigued many people was the fall in infection rates during the summer period. While this might partly be the result of people not mixing so much indoors, some heath workers are pointing to the impact that vitamin D can have on resilience.

Sunshine is the principle source of vitamin D for many people. People get less exposure to sunlight between October and April.

The respected “Which” magazine concluded recently that, while there was little evidence that the consumption of vitamin supplements prevented coronavirus infections, generally balanced vitamin supplements did help the immune system.

We think that there is a case for the Council making vitamin supplements available free of charge to vulnerable groups including those making use of food banks.

The York Council is expecting to get an additional £600,000 in support payments from the government as a consequence of moving into Tier 2 restrictions

Community Stadium further delays

The York Council has confirmed that the new LNER Community Stadium will not now be completed until 2021. The latest problems, for the jinx hit project, apparently relate to drainage. Remedial works will take several weeks to complete.

At one level this makes little difference, as spectators are not allowed into sports events at present. It might, however, prevent York City switching their (behind closed doors) matches to the new stadium pitch which, in turn, could delay their leaving Bootham Crescent.

The start of the Rugby League season is also creeping closer while tickets for the Rugby World Cup games – now less than a year away – are already on sale.

A further threat to the project is now emerging.

The complex operator GLL – who also run the Council’s Energise sports centre in Cornlands Road – have said that the COVID restrictions have impacted on their finances. The suggestion is that this will mean job losses and possibly the permanent closure of some facilities. GLL are a social enterprise company with operations across most of the country.

The sports centre and pool at Monk Cross – although completed several weeks ago – have yet to open.

With the cinema also now closed, units like the NHS centre and library locked up and “no takers” for the restaurant units, the whole business plan for the complex now looks increasingly shaky.

Wrong time, wrong priority

Can a Group of Policy Experts Prevent an Election Catastrophe in 2020? –  Mother Jones

We have made no secret on our distaste for the “mayoral” style of local government systems. They put enormous amounts of power in the hands of one person. That looked wrong even in at best of times.

Now the governments apparent determination to move ahead quickly with another reorganisation of Local Government in York and North Yorkshire, in the middle of a pandemic, looks to be at the extreme end of irresponsible.

Local government Leaders should be able to devote all of their energises and resources to addressing the health crisis.

Some already look exhausted by the pressures of the crisis.

Reorganisation is an unnecessary distraction which the government should shelve at least until the pandemic, and the outfall from BREXIT, are behind us.

Against that background the York Council and North Yorkshire County Council have prepared a policy proposal which would see the City’s boundaries left as they are. York would still have a – ceremonial – Lord Mayor and local electors would get what they voted for (rather than what their counterparts in Scarborough thought that they should have).

The Council have issued the following statement prior to an Executive discussion next week. The Executive paper is published here: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=12298&x=1

“Council confirms there is no functional, historical or logical reason for merging York

Devolution for York and North Yorkshire and Unitarisation for North Yorkshire

structures and so, unlock the devolution process, City of York Council today (16 October) proposed there is no functional, historical or logical reason to merge York with surrounding rural and coastal areas.

In a report to the Executive, it is proposed that York’s footprint should remain the same, to retain local decision making in York, focus on recovery efforts, avoid significant disruption and cost, and continue to deliver value for money services to residents, businesses and communities. 

If agreed, Executive will refer to Full Council on 29 October to decide whether to provide a submission to government that demonstrates York should remain on the existing footprint by providing evidence that there is no functional, historical or logical reason to merge York with other local authorities.

To reduce the 2-tier county and district structures in North Yorkshire, there are only two options being put forward.  The first, the council’s preferred option, would mean York remains on its existing footprint and North Yorkshire creates a new single council, serving the whole of North Yorkshire and based on its recognised geography and identity. This would bring together the eight councils currently providing public services there. The second, proposed by the district authorities, is an east/west split that would see York merge with Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby, covering a geography that would stretch 65 miles north/south, and 45 miles east/west.

To achieve greater efficiencies between City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council, a Strategic Partnership agreement has been created, which describes how seizing opportunities to share resources or lead different aspects of service delivery, whilst respecting the differences between the two places, will better support the region.

There are several benefits of York remaining as a unitary on its existing footprint:

  • The speed at which devolution maybe achieved
  • The continuity of services at a time critical for Covid recovery
  • The continued identify of the City

However, should any change be made to City of York’s existing footprint, there will be a series of detrimental impacts, including

  • an anticipated £117 increase for Band D taxpayers in York (representing an 8% increase).
  • disruption to services across York and the districts during this crucial recovery period
  • end of the 800 year connection between the city and the council, impacting on the very identity of the city.

Over the past few months, consultation has taken place with local residents, businesses and communities regarding devolution and unitarisation, which has been used to feed into the analysis of proposals included in the report.  As part of Our Big Conversation, residents have been sending their views on the topic, with 65% of residents believing council services won’t be improved by covering a larger area.  As part of the consultation, the Council has also held two devolution focused Facebook Live Q&A’s, and has set up numerous briefing sessions with local businesses, charitable and voluntary groups, and local civic organisations.

The council has not been consulted on the east/west proposal and therefore does not know the detail.  As a result it is not possible to accurately assess the impact. 

York has a strong case for remaining the same:

  • t is a median-sized unitary authority with the 7th lowest level of council tax of any unitary.
  • It’s geography (compact urban and sub-urban) is distinctly different to it’s surrounding area (rural and coastal)
  • It has maintained financial stability since it was formed in 1996.
  • It supports a successful, sustainable city, recognised as one of the best places to live in the UK, with world renowned universities and an education system amongst the best in the country.
York responds to the criteria set by central government

To support Executive make an informed decision, the council has summarised evidence for its case to continue on its existing footprint against the criteria provided by government”. 

Road works set to close Gale Lane and Cornlands Road in October/November

City of York Council will be carrying out essential roadworks on key roads in York including, Cornlands Road, Bad Bargain Lane and Gale Lane, throughout October and November.

The council has worked with trade unions and its supply chain to enable the authority to develop new ways of working during the pandemic. This has ensured works on the highway can happen in a safe way for front line operatives and the public.

The contractor has permission from the local authority to undertake this essential work at this time.

For more info about current roadworks in York visit www.york.gov.uk/roadworks

The Council says that the following works are being undertaken:

Gale Lane

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Gale Lane from 2 November for 5 days, weather permitting. Work will be carried out between 9am – 5pm working Monday to Friday only.

It is only a few months since Gale Lane was last closed for road works

In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the mini roundabout at Thanet Road up to the junction of St Stephens Road will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

We will also be carrying out kerbing and drainage works on 29th October for a period of 2 days working 9am – 4pm. These works will be carried out under local traffic management, will not affect access and the road will be open as normal. Parking will be suspended in sections to enable us to carry out the works.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site Traffic Management Operatives, who will coordinate with residents (and business requirements) around the ongoing work operations.

Cornlands Road

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Cornlands Road from 26 October 2020 for a period of 3 days (weather permitting). The works will be carried out between 9am – 5pm.

In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the mini roundabout at Gale Lane up to the junction of St Stephen’s Road will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site Traffic Management Operatives, who will coordinate with residents (and business requirements) around the ongoing work operations.

Bad Bargain Lane

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Bad Bargain Lane from 26 October. Work is expected to take 5 days, weather permitting. Work will be carried out between 9am – 5pm working Monday to Friday only. In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the junction of Meadlands up to, and including, the junction of Burnholme Grove will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site traffic management operatives, who will coordinate with residents and business requirements around the ongoing work operations.

Bus Service 11 will be diverted via East Parade straight on to Heworth Village, Hempland Lane, Stockton Lane, Algarth Rd and Ashley Park Rd.

We will also be carrying out kerbing and drainage works on 19 October for a period of 5 days working 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday only. These works will be carried out under local traffic management, will not affect access and the road will be open as normal. Parking will be suspended in sections to enable us to carry out the works.