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A City Making History: 800 years of York’s archives (25 July – 30 September)

City of York Council’s Archive team are putting on a free exhibition at York Explore Library Learning Centre to explore 800 years of York’s civic history.

The exhibition comes after being awarded a grant of £9505 from Yorventure – an independent not for profit environmental body that gives grants to community and environmental projects through the Landfill Communities Fund with Landfill Tax Credits generated by Yorwaste.

The grant will be used to purchase three bespoke display units for inside the library, as well as four outside notice panels. The units will be designed to coordinate with the original Brierley furniture at the library, and build in sustainable oak and birch by local carpenters.

The exhibition will launch on 25 July and will run until 30 September along side this year’s medieval themed Big City Read. Volunteers from across the community have used the city’s unique archive of historical documents to tell the stories of men and women who have lived and worked in the city from the 13th to the 20th centuries.

Back to the humour

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their Tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, ‘Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?’

‘The Lone Ranger replies, ‘I see millions of stars.’


What that tell you? asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says,
'Astronomically Speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.

Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.

Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning.

Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

What's it tell you, Tonto?'


“You dumber than buffalo crap.

It means someone stole the tent.”

Additional Park & Ride services for York Mystery Plays 2012

With thousands of residents and tourists expected to visit York throughout the York Mystery Plays 2012 performances, City of York Council will be providing extra Park & Rides services to allow easier access to the shows.

During the performances that take place between 2 and 27 August, additional services will be provided at the Rawcliffe Park & Ride (route 2) directly outside Museum Gardens (where the performances are taking place).

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Foreign travel fails to broaden Social Services report

Trip to Wallander country

A Council committee will hear today from “Cabinet” member Cllr Tracy Simpson Laing about her “fact finding” trip to Jonkoping in Sweden. The Wallander of the York Council will have to do better than produce a political diatribe to convince residents that care services are under controlled, and fair, supervision.

For an annual report it stands out as a partisan and highly political view of social services. Everyone is to blame (LibDems, Government, etc) for failure…anyone but the Labour administration.

The report pointedly fails to even mention that the service out-turned with a net £1.567 million over spend in the last financial year. As the Cabinet learned a week ago, “In Adult Social Services increasing service demand for Independent Residential & Nursing Care and Direct Payments remains an issue, as well as new pressures in External Homecare and some delays in the Homecare and EPH business change programmes”. There was also an increase in the number of children in the Councils care.

Detailed figures reveal a gross £3 million overspend which was only partially offset by savings elsewhere.
• Independent Residential & Nursing Care (Overspend £1,393k)
• More customers taking up Direct Payments (Overspend £586k)
• External Homecare demand (Overspend £1,245k)
• Respite care (Overspend £187k).

Culpable delays were incurred in the summer and autumn of 2011 when Labour tried to appease its election paymaster (UNISON) by keeping services “in house” and continuing to endorse pay rates which were well above those in the private sector.

Only 7 out of 59 care staff took up a TUPE transfer when a care contract was privatised. The fate of the others remains largely unexplained.

A behind closed doors decision was taken to advertise the contract for the management of the new Lowfields Care Village but, apparently, with the Unions being given advice on how to organise an in house bid for the contract.

No details of the waiting lists for care services are given in the “Cabinet” members report.

Against that background, you would expect detailed scrutiny of a Cabinet member’s performance. Alas the Councils Scrutiny Committees are dominated by inexperienced Labour Councillors who will ensure that the boat is only rocked ever so gently.

…………and, of course, the sacking of another Cabinet member for incompetence is off the agenda with the Leadership having last week exhausted its alternative membership options.

Doubts thrown on Council claims about “Big City Read” book

The York Council continues to claim that the Susanna Gregory novel “Mystery at the Minster”was specially commissioned for the Big City read“.

This seems unlikely as the book was first published in August 2011 and publicity material from that time made no reference to either the Big City Read or the York800 celebrations.

Nevertheless it is a good read and is deservedly recommended.

The Council says,

City of York Council’s Library and Archives service are inviting residents to meet the acclaimed author of a brand new book that aims to get the whole city reading together and talking about ‘Mystery in the Minster’.

Novelist Susanna Gregory was commissioned to write the thriller specifically for the Big City Read and will be fielding questions, reading extracts and revealing some hints on the plot at the launch event at York Explore Library Learning Centre on Wednesday 25 July from 7pm.

‘Mystery in the Minster’ is a medieval-themed murder mystery and the seventeenth in Susanna’s bestselling series – of which over 100,000 copies have been sold. It features her regular character physician-cum-sleuth Matthew Bartholomew who finds himself in York. What starts as a dispute over land soon turns to murder…

This year’s chosen book is available from all of York’s 14 libraries and Explore centres from 26 July. What’s more, each book given away this year will contain a unique ‘bookcrossing number’ which readers can use on to enter comments on the book, as well as seeing where the book has been previously and keeping track of it once it’s been passed on.

Tickets to the launch event are free but booking is essential. Book online for all events at or by calling into any library. Residents can also follow the events using twitter @yorklibrariesuk or facebook at

Taxi licence numbers may be de-restricted

The York Council will be responding this week to a national proposal that there should be no restriction on the number of taxi licenses that are issued in the City.

The so called “deregulation” is one of the proposals of a Law Commission report which is currently subject to consultation.

There is a concern that deregulation could lead to overcrowding at City centre taxi ranks.

The Councils propsed response can be viewed here

Essential resurfacing works on Wigginton Road

City of York Council will be carrying out essential resurfacing works on Wigginton Road at the junction with Crichton Avenue this month.

The works will start at 6pm on Monday 23 July to be completed by 11pm on Friday 3 August, weather permitting. The works will take place weekday evenings only, under a full road closure between 6pm and 11pm.

A signed diversion route, suitable for all vehicles, will operate inbound from the A1237 Outer Ring Road via the A19 Shipton Road and outbound via Haxby Road to the A1237 Outer Ring Road.

Outside of the working hours, the road will be open as normal. The road closure will be supervised at each end to prevent unauthorised access. Access for pedestrians and emergency services will be maintained at all times. Cyclists will be instructed to dismount and use adjacent footways.

The contractor carrying out the works will be City of York Council Highways Maintenance, who will be responsible for public safety. As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience, but everything reasonably possible will be done to keep this to a minimum.

Another sacking as York Council “Cabinet” chaos continues

You wouldn’t expect to read on a Lib Dem website high praise for the way that Labour is running the York Council, but even their most committed supporters must be wondering what is going on, now that Cllr Fraser has joined those banished to the Council backbenches.

It means that the vital “Environmental Services” portfolio will have its 4th chief in less than 12 months. No amount of slick PR spin can easily explain that away.

The saga starts in the summer of 2011 when, in the wake of an election victory, Labour allocated responsibilities to a newly formed, and somewhat pretentiously named, “Cabinet”.

Experienced Councillor Janet Looker, who had gained a reputation for competence when supervising education services in the City, was handed responsibility for street services like cleansing and street lighting. It proved to be a case of square pegs in round holes for within weeks a decision had been made to fell hundreds of lampposts in the City without any provision being made for their replacement. It would be 12 months before many of the lampposts were replaced.

Another experienced Councillor (Ruth Potter) was prevailed upon to resign her post. This allowed Janet Looker to be shuffled into the Education post. Ruth Potter claimed that she wanted to spend more time with her family and job. Yet 6 months later she was announced as a candidate for the £70,000 a year North Yorkshire Police Commissioner post. That is a job infinitely more demanding in terms of time than any position at the York Council.

Into the Cabinet came spin doctor Cllr D Williams who promptly presided over the closure of the Beckfield Lane Recycling centre while stopping the issue of black plastic refuse sacks to those living in terraced properties.

In the background, the “Cabinet” had decided to halve the number of meetings that it held while moving to take other decisions behind closed doors.

Cllr Williams was quickly moved on into a Police liaison role while the poisoned chalice of street services went to Cllr Fraser in May 2012. He immediately ordered the removal of 350 litter bins from York’s’ streets and even had the cheek to seek to do so under cover of the arrival of the Olympic Flame in the City.

Residents did however notice that the bins had gone and that the amount of litter on the streets was increasing.

It was probably his performance at the last Council meeting though that sealed his fate. In answering questions from the Opposition, he revealed that he still intended to introduce different day grey bin and recycling collections with “consultation” starting with residents in August. The scope for chaos was obvious to everyone.

He further confirmed that he would bring forward proposals to reduce green bin emptying and/or to charge for the service. This would probably be the single least popular measure that anyone could suggest to many York residents.

The obvious reaction, to Cllr Frasers subsequent resignation, from a Council seeking to reduce expenditure would have been to scrap a “Cabinet” post saving around £15,000 a year. The Cabinet members now have greatly reduced workloads as they attend fewer meetings and seem to spend little time out on the streets checking service standards.

If the vacancy was to be filled, then there are Councillors on their back benches who have lived in York for decades and who have extensive work experience.

They were all overlooked in favour of a 23 year old former University student with only 12 months experience as a Councillor and who had spent only a handful of years living in the City.

While everyone will wish the new occupant well in his new role, it is a task that would be difficult – against a background of key staff also having left the Council – for an experienced Councillor to undertake successfully. For a novice it is Mission Impossible.

Toft Fair today from 12 noon

On Saturday 21st July the ‘Friends of York Walls’ are holding a Tofts Fair around Lower Priory Street, just inside the walls near to the Victoria Bar. With help from the local Residents Association and the support of City of York Council, this is part of the City’s 800th Charter Year celebrations.

Activities planned include:
Music & dance, Giant games, Miniature train rides, Bouncy castle, Dog show, Halfords bike display & free bike safety checks, Charity stalls, Climbing wall, Face painter, Ice cream refreshments & BBQ, Punch and Judy, Local history displays, Free fruit for the children, Sponsor a Stone and History of the Walls display by FYW, etc..

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Festival of the Rivers gets to the beat with Junkestra tomorrow (Sunday)

A member of international percussion and performance group STOMP, a local breakdance group and a tower of instruments made from recycled junk, have been brought together by City of York Council in a first for the Festival of the Rivers on the banks of the River Ouse.

This exciting new ensemble, known as Junkestra, will have a rhythm rockers’ showdown on Sunday 22 July from 1-5pm at the riverside Tower Gardens, York, as part of the city’s seventh, annual celebration of its rivers.

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