York’s Chief Executive issued a statement on Friday which could be taken to give the impression that the last LibDem administration may have supported the sale of Union Terrace.
This simply isn’t true. We never even discussed the possibility.
Challenged to produce any evidence of our prior involvement with the project the Labour leadership have failed.
No minutes of meetings, no Emails, no correspondence.
There couldn’t be. The last administration simply didn’t commission a report on a possible sale of the car/coach park. It was all a smokescreen to cover up the Labour leaderships blunder.
What actually happened has been well chronicled in the local media and on this web site.
It was James Alexander’s statement to the media on 18th June which kicked off the furore.
Lest anyone forget over the next few days as Labour try to extricate themselves from this ludicrous muddle, this is what he said when announcing the sale 6 weeks ago.
………A MULTI-MILLION pound deal to sell off one of York’s main city centre car and coach parks could create more than 100 jobs and provide new facilities for students and the public. City of York Council is set to sell the Union Terrace coach and car park to York St John University, which plans to expand its existing campus across the road.
Council leader James Alexander has backed the scheme, which he says will commit at least £2 million to the council’s Reinvigorate York agenda to revitalise the city centre and install “pay on exit” car parking in its car parks. But traders in nearby Gillygate have broadly condemned the move, saying it would deprive them of much-needed passing tourist trade.
Count Alexander said that instead of using Union Terrace as a drop-off point for coaches, the council would look at multiple sites in the city centre to spread visitors across the city.
He said: “York St John plays an important role in the economic vitality of the city and the expansion will further help this by providing 100 new jobs at the university and providing capacity for 100 knock-on jobs, in addition to the impact of increased student numbers.
“As someone who used to work for York St John, I realise how important it is as an employer to local residents who are finding it very tough at the moment.
“The increased students, staff and visitor numbers should also help the business of traders along Gillygate, who often rely on the associated custom of the university.”
The university plans to expand its current numbers to 8,000 over the next four years, including an extra 1,000 international students.
Although detailed plans for the site are still being finalised, some of the options York St John is looking at include academic space, sport and recreational facilities for students and the public, event and exhibition space and student accommodation which it hopes will help inject an extra £45 million for the city’s economy.
No claims at that time then that he was inheriting a timetable from the previous administration. No hint of an officer’s report which might have presented facts about the implications of such a proposal. He clearly expected a rapturous reception for his scheme and wanted all the credit
As we reported on this web site on Wednesday, Labour now seem set to consult on other options which could involve the joint use of the Union Terrace site. This is what we – and many residents – have been suggesting for several weeks. Whether any consultation will be done properly and include other major proposals which will have a major impact on the City centre (and which are evolving as part of the Local Development Framework plan) remains to be seen.
DATE: Sat 6 Aug
VENUE: Bustardthorpe Field, York Knavesmire
TIME: 12noon to 11pm
COST: £10 adult, £7.50 children
Bustardthorpe will be transformed into a family-friendly music festival, with a fantastic line-up of bands to keep you entertained raising money for York’s Special Care Baby Unit
The day will be divided into two halves – a family-friendly daytime period, and a night of revelry and great music. Children’s play area, licensed bar, food court. full details are on www.dudestock.co.uk
Weeds are gradually overwhelming parts of the City as warm weather coupled with occasional rain provides ideal growing conditions.
With the City in the national final of the Britain in Bloom contest it would be a shame if lack of weed clearance jeopardised our chances of success.
Problem areas can be reported for clearance to the Council via their 24/7 web site
The recent announcement that the Turf Tavern on Thanet Road will close at Christmas will disappoint many.
What most don’t realise is that the Council held a restrictive covenant on the use of the building. This could have been used to protect the site.
Apparently on Tuesday (26th) the new cabinet member for City Strategy (Dave Merrett) agreed to waive this covenant paving the way for the demolition of the pub and the erection of housing on the site.
What is scandalous is that there was no consultation on the question of the use of the covenant and no item was placed on any public agenda prior to Tuesdays decision.
This drift into secrecy and political spin is sadly now part of a trend that we are seeing in York.
Councillors are now “authoring” the reports that inform the council’s decision making process. A key annex in the report on Union Terrace has not been made available to even Opposition Councillors; a clear change in policy since the May elections.
This has apparently been facilitated by the Councils Audit and Governance committee – which is charged with looking after taxpayer’s interests – who on 26th July scrapped the Councils report writing protocol altogether.
This was an agreement that had secured all party endorsement only 3 years ago.
Earlier the protocol, which prevented the inclusion of comment from Labour Councillors in the Councils media releases and publications, had been relaxed.
Worse the Governance committee has also now scrapped a whole range of other protocols which were established to protect residents from the worst excesses of a failing Council.
Important amongst those scrapped was one protecting “whistle blowers”. This gave officers some protection if they chose to make an irregularity public.
The connection between secret deals and pressure on professional officers to conform is not too difficult to fathom.
In the queue at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.
“The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”
He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two hundred yards.
But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Yorkshire. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then. We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
Energise is hosting a one-day festival of disability sport, offering citizens of York the opportunity to come and try out a wide variety of disability and inclusive sports. Activities include Paralympic sports such as swimming, athletics, boccia, football, goalball, wheelchair basketball. There are also sessions for the other accessible forms of physical activity that are available within the City of York including wheelchair rugby, danceability, new age kurling, and gymability. Residents wanting to try climbing, swimming and the gym will need to book their place directly with Energise Tel:01904 552424. The day will feature special guest Alan Rayment, Paratriathlete, who hopes to represent Great Britain when his event is included in the Paralympic programme for the first time in 2016. The day will also celebrate Energise successfully gaining reaccreditation of the Inclusive Fitness Initiative for their gym. You don’t need to have a disability to take part, the event is open to anyone who would like to try out a disability sport. For more information contact Simon Kumar on 01904 553440.
A Focus newsletter is currently being delivered by Guildhall Ward Liberal Democrats. Amongst the stories contained in it is a request for objectors to assemble outside the Guildhall at 5:00pm on Thursday 4th August (the evening that the Council is debating the Union Terrace sale).
Guildhall Liberal Democrats have also set up a Twitter account to provide daily updates on their campaigns @LibDemsYork.
Some news on the compromise proposal which would see parking retained on the site with additional accommodation for St Johns also provided in what might be a 3 storey development. We understand the University have indicated that, provided there was some additional development permitted on their existing campus, then this idea might work for them.
Written confirmation has been provided by myself and Andrew Waller that neither of us requested any “report” into the future of the Union Terrace site when we held power in the City. We have indicated that our statements can be made public. A senior official has confirmed that our understanding of the sequence of events is correct.
We now await the publication of evidence to support the claim made by James Alexander/Julie Gunnell that we “commissioned” a Union Terrace report.
Labour media release 15th July
“Labour’s cooperative councils will work with their communities to make sure local services meet the needs of local people. It marks the end of top-down services where people are expected to put up with whatever is on offer. In future, residents, rather than town hall officials, will be in the driving seat”.
The Press 26th July
“THE controversial sale of a York coach and car park is set to be sealed in the face of huge opposition…. it has sparked fierce protests…… Local businesses say their trade would be wrecked, fears have been raised about its impact on York’s tourism, and more than 11,000 people have signed a petition opposing the sale”
DATE: Various, weeks commencing 8th August, 19th September, 31st October and 12th December 2011
VENUE: Energise and Yearsley Pools
TIME: Daytime and evening classes available
COST: £18 for 6 weeks
Targeted adult swimming courses, something for everyone from beginners, welcome back to the pool, learn front crawl and fitness training
Beginner’s classes are suitable for anyone who has never had the opportunity to learn to swim, is frightened of the water or has had a previous bad experience in water. Age is not a limiting factor and all ages are welcome to attend.
Welcome back to the pool is a class for anyone who has been away from swimming for a number of years or has suffered a life changing event, whether an injury, medical condition, disability or emotional trauma and would like to be supported back into swimming.
Learn front crawl aims to teach people the basics of front crawl technique. The class is suitable for people who are able to swim comfortably out of their depth in breaststroke or backstroke and would like to have the opportunity to learn a new stroke.
Develop front crawl aims to help people improve their front crawl stroke technique. The class is suitable for people who can swim a few lengths of front crawl but would like some help with stroke technique to improve breathing patterns, stroke length, speed and stamina.
Fitness Training aims to help you to take your swimming to the next level, and give you innovative ideas and programmes to develop your speed and stamina in the pool. The class is suitable for anyone who regularly swims but would like to push themselves to achieve more fitness benefits from their swimming.
All classes will be taught by ASA level 2 qualified and experienced swimming teachers and class numbers will be kept small to ensure participants receive individual feedback and are helped to achieve their aims.
Course places are available to book via Yearsley Pool and Energise from Monday 11th April 2011. Please call in at reception at either centre to confirm your place with payment (£18) or telephone 01904 552424. or visis: http://www.york.gov.uk/leisure/swimming/lowcost/
If you have any general enquires please contact:
Catherine Butt, Aquatics Community Sports Coach, Sport and Active Leisure
Tel: 07825 863007 / e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org