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York Learning Summer Festival

Adult Learning: February 2014

York Learning (part of City of York Council) is hosting their first ever Summer Festival, offering residents a variety of fun and uplifting activities for the whole family.

Taking place throughout August, residents will have the opportunity to perfect their skills or learn new skills with a series of classes ranging from foreign language to mask-making; painting to dancing; or BBQ cooking to photography.

This year, the festival will have a special focus on supporting local resident’s wellbeing. York Learning will be offering Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, Dancefit workshops and mindfulness classes designed to help people come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

There will also be the chance to prepare fun ways to get your kids ready for school, perfect your writing skills and enjoy fun-filled family activities. All Summer Festival courses and workshops are available to pre-book online at

York Learning has been offering an extended range of online classes for all to enjoy during the coronavirus outbreak, and will continue during the summer holiday period.

To see all the Summer Festival workshops and courses, visit and keep an eye on the York Learning and Family Learning Facebook pages, Instagram, and Twitter.

York getting a little busier?

Few more on Spurriergate today
Museum Gardens – with social distancing well organised by Museum staff – was popular today
Marygate car park close to capacity today apart from the completely useless coned off area. Not being used by anyone for social distancing. Meanwhile, at the other end of the Scarborough bridge cycle link to the station, cyclists wanting access the exit towards Holgate Road, have to dismount and walk through the congested portico or bus stop areas.
Cycle parking still poor in York. These were chained to railings today. They had enforcement notices attached but, given the large sums of taxpayers money being thrown at some peoples idea of “sustainable transport”, installing a few extra parking frames (Sheffield stands) wouldn’t be amiss.
The York Council offices are still closed. The gates are padlocked. Given the new government advice about “getting back to work” there should now be a road-map leading to the reopening of services where customers need personal contact.
No information, forward plans or meeting agendas on Council, noticeboards. This one, outside West Offices, simply says that meetings are cancelled “until 30th May”.
No noticeboards at all now outside the Guildhall. Although the building itself is closed for refurbishment, the noticeboards, previously displayed there, provided an easy, accessible location where residents could read about what the Council planned to consider. (Very few people routinely walk past the small noticeboard outside West Offices)

Coronavirus York updates; 17th July 2020

Deaths and test results

There have been no further positive test results or hospital deaths in the City according to government figures published today.

Sometimes “late” test results are retrospectively added to the daily totals but the trend may be encouraging.

Restrictions to be eased further

  • From 25th July indoor gyms, pools and other sports facilities can reopen
  • On 1st August the government will update its advice on going to work, asking employers to make decisions about how and where their staff can work safely
  • From the same date, most remaining leisure settings, including bowling, skating rinks, casinos and all close contact services, such as beauticians, will be allowed to reopen
  • Live indoor theatre and concerts will be able to resume with socially distanced audiences
  • Wedding receptions for up to 30 people will also be allowed from next month
  • From September, schools, nurseries and colleges will be open for all children and young people on a full-time basis, while universities are also working to reopen as fully as possible
  • From October, the government intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums, while conferences and other business events can recommence, subject to the outcome of pilots

Shop local

City of York Council is encouraging people to shop local and stay safe this weekend.

Whilst face coverings are mandatory in shops from 24 July, city leaders are coming together to urge residents and businesses to consider the use of face coverings within the safety guidelines.

There is growing evidence that face coverings can stop the spread of Coronavirus. Face coverings, alongside regular hand washing, social distancing and staying home and getting tested, if you have symptoms, remain the best defence we have against the virus.

If you have a medical condition that means you are unable to wear a face covering, you do not need a letter from your healthcare professional to prove this.  In this situation, you will still be able to enter shops and you will not be fined for not wearing one.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council said: “Our local business community have worked hard to reopen safely, and to support them, the council has been issuing guidance packs to businesses and licensing premises to support them through this difficult period”.

“If every resident spent £5 with a local business, we would add £1m into York’s economy, and that is why we are encouraging residents to shop local and stay safe this weekend.

“Supporting York’s local businesses and independents puts your money straight back into our local economy and helps support the businesses who make York such a unique city. So, let’s continue to shop local and stay safe.”

Andrew Lowson, Executive Director at York BID, said: “We have seen other countries successfully introduce the use of face coverings without it impacting on people’s ability to enjoy shopping and socialising within the safety guidelines. We hope residents will continue to support their local businesses as they continue on the road to recovery.”

Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: “We have been increasing our services over recent weeks to help more people to travel as retail and leisure opens in York, including more frequency on the park and ride network, so we are able to carry customers safely to their favourite shopping destinations.

“Wearing a face covering on the bus is already the law unless someone is exempt and we encourage everyone, especially customers who may be using the bus first the first time, to bring one with them and help fellow passengers and our drivers to keep safe.”

Information on face coverings, including how to make them and also information on those exempt from wearing a face covering for medical reasons are available at

How many will lose their jobs in York?

Post COVID-19 economic recovery plans

The Council has revealed that its forecast financial deficit for the current year is around £3.9 million. However, the biggest potential hit on its finances comes from a forecast £16 million loss of Business Rate and Council Tax income. This would be the result of businesses closing and unemployment rising.

The Council has still not identified how expenditure savings may be made nor has it attempted to reduce interest charge payments by trimming its capital programme.

The  York Council economic development  report says how it plans to help the York economy recover from the ravages of lock-down. It updates a previous plan which was criticised for a lack of identified actions, targets, and milestones.

The report says that the impact of the COVID lock down has varied across sectors but is most significant where “serving customers face-to-face is at the heart of the business model – retail, hospitality, cultural attractions and personal services”.

One aspect to the report which may cause concern is the lack of clarity on the medium-term impact on unemployment in the City. It highlights the view of the Local Enterprise Partnership which forecasts the loss of “17,500 jobs, including 6,500 in tourism and 2,400 in retail”. If true, then York would go from having almost full employment to a record 15% level.

The report says that around 15,000 people currently work in the care sector in York.

An alternative forecast, from Oxford Economics, says that if a vaccine is rolled out in 2020 then there will be a  swift return to full employment. A core (more likely) forecast, based on re-openings on the current timetable and gradual lifting of all restrictions, suggests that employment will continue to grow in York despite the impact of the pandemic.

Only a second wave, and renewed lockdowns in autumn 2020, would result in permanent losses of around 3900 jobs.

So it seems, like the population as a whole, the Council doesn’t know what will happen next. The report concludes “What we are already seeing is sharp increases in benefits claims, and we need to plan for at least a short-term spike in job losses”.

Against that background it is possible to have some sympathy for the Council as they decide their short term economic recovery strategy.

One of the few measurable actions arising from the report is a request to central government for a business support grant of £15 million (possibly £10 million depending on which paragraph of the report you read, 51 or 60).

The council will also ask for £10 million for skills training.

Mostly the 1 year plan though is “talking”, “developing”, “working with”, “lobbying” and “facilitating”.

NB. The Council has revealed details of some of its visitor marketing plans. . As reported yesterday, £100,000 will be spent on marketing over the next 5 months.

York Council’s visitor economy plans

Footpath obstructed

Such a shame that the York Council seems once again to have taken its eye off the ball. While endlessly agonising about – and focusing expenditure on – pedestrian activities in the City centre, the suburbs remain neglected.

One public footpath on the A59 near Poppleton is now blocked by overhanging branches. The same stretch had a similar problem last year. Pedestrians are forced to walk on what can be a busy carriageway. Makes a nonsence of “social distancing”

Nearby by weeds are growing in the gutters on the road and in the underpass at the junction with the A1237.

The council doesn’t seem to have an inspection regime in place which identifies issues (even those that reoccur regularly) before they become an inconvenience to residents.

Footpath impeded near Poppleton
Weeds in gutters on A59
Weed growth on underpass

British Sugar Site

Much of the British Sugar development site on Boroughbridge Road has now been levelled. It remains unclear when construction of the long delayed homes will start.

In the meantime one resident has commented that some of the trees on the site – scheduled for retention because they provide a wildlife habitat – seem to have disappeared. The Council has been asked to investigate.

The old Manor school site does not seem to have been affected,.

£100K proposed investment for new campaign to support York’s Tourism Industry

City of York Council and Make It York are rolling out a new six-month tourism strategy to promote the strengths of the city.

The strategy will encourage residents and visitors to enjoy the many unique experiences the city has to offer.

City of York Council are supporting the campaign with a proposed investment of £100K for targeted marketing activity, which is designed to boost resident and visitor experience , in order to support York’s tourism and leisure industry.  The proposal is to be discussed at a meeting on the Council’s Executive on 23 July 2020.

The strategy, elements of which are already in operation through City of York Council’s ‘Let’s Be York campaign’ and Make It York’s new ‘Feel at Home in York’ campaign, will focus on reenergising the city and telling the story of York’s diverse history.

The £100K investment will include targeted advertising, including digital and radio, press initiatives and new digital content, photography and video, and the curation of a unique programme of events throughout the summer and autumn of 2020. The strategy focuses on building confidence in the city as a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors to enjoy, as well as promoting York’s special character.

The launch of this new tourism campaign, which is designed to support businesses over the next six months, is the latest in a series of activities to assist businesses across the city in adapting to the challenges posed by Covid-19. Support during the pandemic included business grants, rates relief, advice on funding, skills training and a series of key sector roundtables – as well as ongoing conversations with national government to lobby on behalf of York’s business community for further support.

The proposed activity will launch with a special ‘Our Heroes Welcome’ from 1 August for Yorkshire Day – a week to thank the incredible commitment of the city’s key workers, with a special celebratory cruise held in partnership with City Cruises York with more information will follow.

The tourism marketing strategy is part of the council’s response to support the city recovery from the economic impacts of Covid-19.   The council will discuss plans to deliver a short term one year economic recovery plan, together with the one Year Transport and Place plan already underway at the Executive meeting on 24 July 2020.  More information is here (link)

One of the core elements of the strategy is working collaboratively with businesses including attractions, retail and hospitality to create unique and special experiences designed to attract targeted audiences to the city, and keep them returning to the city. The recovery campaign activity will continue to prioritise public health, aligning with government advice as this develops over the coming months. 

The campaign aims to attract residents as the key audience, as well as visitors from the surrounding regions. Utilising data and insights from locals, businesses and visitors, the plan of activity will continue to be shaped by feedback gathered over the coming months.

The move comes at the same time as the Council confirmed in a response to a Freedom of Information request that it had spent £4.7 million with Make It York during the last 5 years.

Children’s playgrounds all now open in Westfield

Children’s playground in the Westfield area have all now been reopened. Some are displaying “best practice” signs outlining health restrictions. Judging by the numbers in the Acomb Green play area this has proved to be very popular with children (and probably parents).

Acomb Green
Dickson Park
Foxwood Lane
Grange Lane