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Coronvirus York updates; 15th October 2020

Deaths and test results

Another York Hospital Trust death was announced today

There were 71 (SEVENTY ONE) additional positive test results announced today. This brings the total to 2399. 1424 of these have occurred since the start of the second wave of infections on 1st September.

The highest rate per 100,000 head of population happened on Monday when the figure reached 274.44

The worst affected neighbourhood is Heslington/University which has had 119 positive test results during the last 7 days.

The least affected area has been Bishopthorpe/Copmanthorpe with 7 cases.

The government has published updated test and trace stats covering the period between 30th September and 7th October. Nearly 1 in 5 of the people who were tested in York were found to have the virus. The positivity rate is continuing to increase.

The government claims that it has traced 67% of contacts in the City since test & trace started in May. The York Council has announced plans to set up its own contact tracing service. It is expected to be operational next week.

York subject to Tier 2 restrictions

The City is to be added to the areas with “Tier 2” restrictions. Given the recent increase in case numbers in parts of the City, the decision is not unexpected.

The restrictions are effective from 00:01 this Saturday morning

Tier 2 restrictions will mean

  • All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
  • Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru
  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed
  • The “Rule of Six” will continue to apply outdoors and in private gardens
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport

Some may feel that the move comes too late and should include further restrictions on travel, the closure of more leisure venues, schools returning to the arrangements seen in the Spring with other educational facilities being quarantined.

York Council coalition majority down to one

York Green Party launch Local Shops For Local People directory | York Press
Cllr Taylor

The LibDem/Green coalition which currently runs the York Council has had its majority reduced to one, following the resignation from the Green Party of controversial Councillor Dave Taylor.

Cllr Taylor, a former Lord Mayor, attracted a lot of criticism following disparaging comments that he made about football icon Jack Charlton.

Cllr Tayler has circulated a letter giving the reasons for his departure from the Green Party.

Before I resign from the Green Party I would like to pay tribute to Andy D’Agorne who has been my friend and mentor as a Councillor in Fishergate. I hope he will, at least, remain my friend as we continue to serve the residents of Fishergate.

However, I have decided to leave the Green Party after its miserable and disappointing decision to suspend me over the Charlton comment. Might I suggest that the next time you see a friend being given a kicking by a bunch of football hooligans that you give them your aid rather than cravenly join in with the thugs giving them a kicking.

But political parties are not our friends… any more than are our employers. A lesson has been learned.

I would like to thank the members who contacted me with messages of support, and those critical of the party’s decision to suspend me. That meant a lot to me, but there are some other relationships within York Green Party which are now irretrievably broken and so I must tender my resignation. I bid the party farewell and offer you all my best wishes in pursuing environmental and social justice.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Taylor
Councillor for Fishergate

It is understood that Cllr Taylor will continue to represent the Fishergate ward as an Independent for the remainder of his term of office.

Coronavirus York updates; 14th October 2020

Deaths and test results

138 (ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT) new cases were announced today. That is the largest single day announcement that we have had. It brings the total to 2328.

The seven day, per 100k population, case figure reached 266.84 on Saturday.

The case numbers over the last 7 days at Heslington/University have reached 100.

To put that into context, the figure is twice the total number of cases that we saw in the whole of the City during the month of August.

The figures may lead to calls for stricter quarantining arrangements on the campus, in student accommodation and in leisure activities.

There have been no additional deaths at the York hospital.

York presses on with Local Plan

City of York Council have today written to their appointed planning inspectors as part of the examination process of the Local Plan.

The Local Plan will provide a framework to guide and promote development, and to protect the quality of York’s unique historic, natural and built environment. The document will set strategic priorities for the whole city and forms the basis for planning decisions for the next 15 years and beyond.

The Council have now completed the technical work required to provide an update on household growth and housing need in the city in response to the Inspector’s July letter regarding the latest household projections released by the Office for National Statistics this year.

Using the recent publication of updated household projections, including taking into account the latest demographic and economic trends, the Council has determined that the housing need in York has not changed materially since the last assessment in January 2019.

The previous report identified a need for 790 dwellings per annum (dpa) and the economic-led need within this new report is as high as 788 dpa. We therefore continue to support our proposed modification to the plan for a housing requirement of 822 dpa (790 dpa objectively assessed housing need plus a shortfall of 32 dpa) as discussed at our phase one hearing sessions in December 2019.

The letter also states the Council continues to work on a response to the concerns expressed in a letter on 12 June 2020 regarding the methodology for determining Green Belt boundaries.

The Council is updating the Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum and its Annexes to simplify and clarify the methodology.

That work has not at this stage revealed any need for significant changes to the proposed Green Belt boundaries.

The letter also confirms the Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA), has been completed but is with Natural England, our statutory consultee, for their view on the conclusions reached. Following their response, the HRA will be submitted as soon as possible and we will engage with interested parties on the conclusions set out in the report.

The full letter can be viewed at www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination  

City of York Council Executive Member for Finance and Performance, Councilor Nigel Ayre, said:
“We are committed to delivering a sound Local Plan for the city as soon as possible.

“I would like to thank City of York Council’s planning officers and the Government inspectors who continue to progress the plan throughout these uniquely difficult times.”

Christmas cancelled

Well the Christmas Fair anyway

The 10 Ultimate Christmas Gifs We Can All Relate To | GRB

The Council has issued a statment saying that York residents “are being invited to celebrate and commemorate key moments in the Autumn calendar safely, in order to protect the health of the people and places we love”.

Following the announcement that York has been added to the ‘medium’ level on the Government’s three-tiered public health restriction system, and with Covid-19 infection rates in the city rising above the national average, York could still be moved into the tier 2 of the restriction system by the Government. Therefore, this year’s city-wide celebrations will see York celebrate differently to follow public health guidelines and protect each other.

To  give clarity about which events are safe to go ahead, new criteria has been developed to support the Public Health recommendations, with the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) making decisions on mitigation or restriction measures required for public events and activities to take place.

By working closely with partners to explore different options that would ensure the safety of residents, the Council, Public Health, businesses and the Safety Advisory Group are keen that as much of city life continues as possible, with safety measures in place.

Following the latest public health guidelines, events that draw significant numbers of people to a single location and at set times will unfortunately not be permitted to take place, in order to curb the spread of the virus and ultimately, protect local residents. However, events that are outdoors, spread across a larger area and encourage people to visit at different times, rather than for set performances, are more likely to be supported by the Safety Advisory Group.

What this means for city wide celebrations

  • Light and Dark – the Light and Dark experience and Indie York’s Magical Medieval Trails will go ahead as planned during October half term, as this experience has been designed to encourage family groups to move safely around the city.
  • Halloween – Trick or treating guidance will be available from the government and we will share it when published. For now, you should plan events within households or bubbles only.
  • Bonfire Night – SAG have confirmed the event planned for Elvington Air Field will go ahead, as it is a drive through event only. Residents are advised to keep to the rule of six and maintain a safe distance if outside.
  • Hanukkah – central government will be providing advice, for now you should plan events within the rule of six, or with households or bubbles only. Consider outdoor celebrations where you can.
  • Diwali – central government will be providing advice, for now you should plan events within the rule of six, or with households or bubbles only. Consider outdoor celebrations where you can.
  • Remembrance Day – to avoid people gathering for prolonged periods of time, the parades, including in the city centre, will not take place. Partners, including civic leaders, are working closely together to deliver an appropriate remembrance service, in partnership with York Minster. This will include an online service and reflection with everyone invited to take part. More information will follow soon.
  • Christmas Market / St Nicholas Fair – following other cities (such as Lincoln, Bath and Leeds) and new public health guidance, the Christmas Market will not go ahead. As we look after each other and continue to keep the people we love safe, this Christmas, all York residents will be invited to a special Christmas experience, with more information to follow. This will include new pop up spaces, York’s Christmas lights (which are currently being installed) and opportunities to support a range of local businesses, including small and independent traders.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, businesses across York have innovated and adapted to remain safe and welcoming for residents and visitors, but the threat of Coronavirus remains, so we all need to continue to work together to protect our health, our economy and our city. We will continue to work with partners to shine a light on our incredible independent retailers, hospitality businesses and attractions who have played their role in keeping our city safe.

Oliver Cromwell - King Charles Storms House Of Commons on Make a GIF
The last person to cancel Christmas was Oliver Cromwell

Frequently Asked Questions

Misuse of family member’s blue badge prosecuted

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of disabled blue badge fraud.

Andrew Nichol, aged 61 of Stonegate Court, York, was caught misusing a family member’s blue badge in the city centre earlier this year. An investigation into the misuse was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following information from a parking officer.

Blue badges make it easier for people with disabilities to travel and maintain independence. However, they are open to abuse. Under the regulations, a blue badge can only be used when the badge holder is present, or being picked up or dropped off.

On 21 February the blue badge was spotted by a council parking officer, displayed in a parked vehicle on Duncombe Place. The badge’s details were checked by the fraud team and the badge holder’s location could not be verified.

When Mr Nichol returned to the vehicle, he told the parking officer that the badge holder was at his home and he was going to pick them up. Investigators later found that the owner of the blue badge was not waiting to be picked up by the driver.
Mr Nichol was asked to participate in a written interview under caution but failed to respond. The investigation concluded with him being prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act 1984 for wrongful use of a disabled person’s badge.

No plea was entered and Mr Nichol failed to attend court, but the case was heard in his absence at York Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2020. He was found guilty and received a fine, plus court costs and a victim surcharge, totalling £1,169.

“Act in haste, repent at leisure” time for York Council transport changes

Cycling numbers decline in York

It looks like more of the road restrictions introduced in the summer, as part of the Councils reaction to the COVID crisis, will be dropped.

The most criticised restriction – closure of Bishopthorpe Road –  was scrapped a couple of months ago, although officials are now threatening to revive the idea as part of “a review of the Local Transport Plan”.

A report to a meeting taking place next week provides an insight into how travel habits have changed in the City since COVID struck.

The most recent monitoring data, for September, shows that AM peak traffic volumes are around 80% of pre-lockdown, with the PM peak around 85% of pre-lockdown levels. Between the peaks, and at weekends, vehicle trips are down by around 5-10%. Bus use is 50-60% of pre-lockdown levels.

There is some bad news for the cycling lobby.

“Cycling levels appear to have fallen by around 30% in the peaks, whilst interpeak levels are not changed in comparison to the same period last year. It is likely that fewer people are commuting to and from work by bike or cycling to the railway station for onward travel by train, offset by higher levels of exercise/ leisure cycling”.

The report pointedly fails to comment on pollution and air quality levels in the City. These continue to be at record low levels (so probably don’t suit a doom and gloom narrative).

click to access

Several of the “emergency” schemes involved little more than putting out more traffic cones. Those in the Marygate and Monk Bar car park were largely unnecessary. The £10,000 a month taxi shuttle service for disabled people from the latter continues to run although it is little used. Most of the 40 parking spaces lost at Marygate are set to be restored as part of a new scheme to install a permanent cycle path link to Bootham.

Of the others, the report recommends

  • The temporary one way restriction on Coppergate is extended
  • The temporary cycle lane at Castle Mills Bridge on Tower Street is removed (only 3% of users are cyclists and there is an alternative, off road, route along the riverside)
  • The proposed scheme for improvements to York’s North – South cycle route is taken forward to implementation, with a proposed restriction on Navigation Road
  • The proposed scheme for improvements to cycle lanes on Bootham is taken forward to implementation, with a consultation commenced on the rest of the Shipton Road cycle lane scheme, including the element which would require changes to residents’ parking on parts of Bootham.
North – South cycle route

The Council has not heard whether its plea for funding a further tranche of works will be approved. These include the very expensive, but desirable, cycle bridge over the river and railway on the A1237 as well as some more eccentric ideas (a cycle path for Dunnington to the City centre).  

Despite the lack of obvious government enthusiasm for the Councils plans, the authority intends to spend £40,000 on further development of the ideas.

As we have said many times, one of the main criticisms of the Councils transport polices over the last 12 months has been its total insensitivity to the state of repair of the existing infrastructure.

Infrastructure is decaying

That is particularly true of cycle paths many of which are obstructed by potholes, weeds, and hedges. White lines have worn away, signage has faded and, in some cases, disappeared altogether.

It is that neglect that is limiting the expansion of walking and cycling numbers in the City.

Capital expenditure (funded by borrowing) is limited to providing or improving assets with an extended lifespan. Resurfacing existing paths could fall within that definition.

The suspicion is that the executive Councillors favour high profile vanity projects simply because they provide an opportunity for a good “Photo Op”.

The reduction in the numbers cycling is one symptom of poor prioritisation

Acomb Front Street store set to close?

It looks like the popular Peacocks store on Front Street will shortly be closing.

Peacocks is part of a group which includes The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Jaeger. It was reported last week that the group was in financial difficulties.

So far, shops in the Front Street area have generally managed to survive quite well the pandemic restrictions, with one long term empty property, near Morrisons, set to reopen shortly.

There was, however, some criticism of the authorities when it was revealed recently that a consultant, appointed to report on the remodelling and future marketing of the area nearly 12 months ago, had not yet started work.

A suggestion that, for one or two days each week, the pedestrian restrictions should be eased to allow vehicular access for disabled shoppers, was also ignored.

York Councils strange priorities

Work has started on digging up the Tadcaster Road highway again.

Yesterday workers were ripping up the surface of The Mount prior to moving on down Tadcaster Road.

Initially new gas main pipes will be installed. These will be followed by the new drainage channels which should have been provided in the spring when the carriageway was last dug up.

The scheme can be contrasted with other urgently needed repairs elsewhere in west York.

School Street was reported this week for the umpteenth time only for the Council to respond saying that “no further work is required”

School Street area – a patchwork of potholes and faded white lines

Coronavirus York updates; 13th October 2020

Deaths and test results

95 (NINETY FIVE) additional positive test results were announced today, bringing the cumulative total up to 2190.

The largest, individual day, positive test count number was 103 which occurred last Wednesday.

The cases per 100,000 population figure peaked at 261.15 on Thursday.

The neighbourhood with the largest number of positive test results is still Heslington/University which currently has 78 cases. This is down from the peak of 88 which was reported yesterday. The university says that it was aware of 247 individuals within the university community who were currently self-isolating because they had had a positive Covid-19 test.

The area with the fewest cases is Dunnington/Elvington/Wheldrake (6)

Some pupils at the Haxby Road and Robert Wilkinson schools in the City are understood to be self-isolating. More than 150 children at the two schools are affected

No further hospital deaths in York. There have, however, been 81 deaths announced in other parts of the country.

Leisure grants

The government has announced that it will make the following grants to cultural organisations in the City

York Museums Trust £850,000
Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial£312,531
York Citizen’s Theatre Trust (Theatre Royal)£236,522
Three Little Birds LLP (The Crescent)£108,668
Victoria Vaults£92,244
Fast Entertainment Ltd (Fulford Arms)£82,584
The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles£78,600
The York Early Music Foundation£50,000