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Social Housing: 4,280 on homes waiting list in York

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The longest wait to be rehoused, for someone on the York housing list, is reported to be 13 years.

This is the exception though and probably reflects the desire of some applicants to be housed in a particular part of the City or in a specific village. Many applicants are rehoused within a few months. Others, with a low housing needs assessment, may never be offered a property.

Around 750 vacancies occur in the 12,431 rented properties available in the City (4512 Housing Association, 7919 Council). In addition there are around 500 shared ownership/discounted sale or intermediate rent properties in the City.

The number of available properties has grown from the 12,321 recorded on 1st April 2008.

Around 2000 people register to be on the housing waiting list each year. Currently 4280 are registered.

The Council introduced a new system for allocating properties a few years ago which involved vacancies being advertised.

Applicants then apply for the individual properties with the home being allocated on the basis of need. Applicants are assessed in order of priority bands of gold, silver and bronze, with those in gold having the highest need for a home. Around 92 per cent of households on the register are in either silver of bronze band and average waiting times for a home is around two years

In the case of one advertised home, as many as 290 people applied to be tenants.

The York Council is currently consulting residents about their “tenancy strategy” More information is available here: http://tinyurl.com/York-Tenancy-strategy

One of the key issues being considered is the under-occupation of rented accommodation. Current estimates suggest around 1,000 council owned homes are under occupied at any one time. Currently 190 household are seeking a transfer due to overcrowding and 160 tenants seeking a transfer to smaller accommodation.

Tee off the summer with junior golf

Heworth Golf Club

Parents looking to banish summer holiday boredom for their children could book them in to tee off with City of York Council’s junior golf course.

City of York Council is teaming up with Heworth Golf Club to offer golf lessons for children aged under 16. It’s the first time junior golf lessons have been put on at the club and it follows the success of adult golf lessons which took place earlier in the year.

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Census reveals York population rising by 1% a year

Initial figures from the 2011 Census of population for England and Wales, conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), have been released today.

The figures provide a snapshot of the resident population on Census Day, which fell on 27 March 2011.

Figures show that in 2011 York’s population was 198,000 and York’s household population was 83,600.

Figures also show that York has 16,700 (9.2 per cent) more people than in 2001 when the last census took place, which showed the population as 181,300. It is also 2.2 per cent lower than previous predictions (mid-year 2010).

The number of 20-24 year olds has increased the most since 2001, by 5,500 (38.5 per cent).

Other significant increases are in the 60-64 year old population, which has risen by 2,800, (31.5 per cent) and 85 plus year olds by 1,200 (32.4 per cent).

Thee most significant decrease was in the 30-34 and 35-39 year old groups, which has reduced the most since 2001, by 1,300 each (9.4 per cent).

The census is conducted every ten years and aims to find out more about the people who live in England and Wales and about the make-up of local neighbourhoods.

The second release of data will become available between November 2012 and spring 2013.

For more information please visit www.census.gov.uk

Get cracking for the Crimebeat Awards

Previous winners

It’s time to start working on your entries for this year’s Crimebeat Awards.

The 2012/13 competition has been revamped and features a larger age-range, two separate categories, bigger prizes and a slightly different judging structure.

Groups of young people aged between 5 and 25 can enter this year’s competition, which is split into two categories:

1. Groups independently developed and run by young people.

2. Groups set-up by an adult and run by young people.

The aim of the competition is to come up with a project which benefits the community and helps to reduce or prevent crime.

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York – Manchester rail electrification confirmed

More than £9 billion of growth-boosting railway upgrades across England and Wales – representing faster journey times, more reliable services and capacity for 140,000 extra daily commutes by train – have been announced.

The full £9.4bn programme of improvements to the rail network published today will meet the needs of intercity passengers, commuters and freight up to the end of this decade while the Government continues to work on High Speed 2 to deliver rail capacity for the British economy in the decades to come.

This “High Level Output Specification” programme for 2014-2019 will be discussed at today’s meeting of the Cabinet which the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will hold outside London.

Crossrail, Thameslink, and electrification between London and Cardiff, Manchester to Liverpool and Preston, and across the Pennines, are among £5.2bn of projects already committed to during 2014-2019. New schemes totalling £4.2bn unveiled today include:

“Upgrades to stations and tracks creating enough capacity around cities for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes at peak times. In addition to Crossrail and Thameslink, announced previously, today’s enhancements – such as the £350m lengthening of platforms at London Waterloo station – will provide capacity for 120,000 more daily commutes in and out of London and 20,100 extra daily commutes across Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and other cities.

“Faster journeys and more train capacity from £240m of improvements along the East Coast Main Line from the North East down through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to London.

“The creation of a high-capacity “electric spine” running from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to South Coast ports allowing more reliable electric trains to cut journey times and boost capacity for passengers and freight. This comprises: an £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield – through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester – to Bedford, completing the full electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras; and electrification of the lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton.

“The landmark decision to take electric rail beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing the full electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a total cost of more than £600m, and electrifying the Welsh Valley lines, including Ebbw Vale, Maesteg and the Vale of Glamorgan. These will give two-thirds of the Welsh population access to new fleets of electric trains helping to generate Welsh jobs and growth by slashing journey times and boosting passenger and freight capacity.

“Completion in full of the “Northern Hub” cluster of rail enhancements with the approval of £322m of outstanding track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool. These are in addition to £477m of Northern Hub schemes already approved across the North of England such as electrification of the North Trans Pennine route between York and Manchester.

“A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow allowing direct services to the airport for passengers from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales.

The HLOS package will be funded in part from fare rises already announced in 2010 and also from the substantial efficiency savings which projects like electrification will have on the long term operating costs of the railways.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“This is the biggest expansion in railways in over 150 years, with more than £9bn of investment across the country.

“Whilst we inherited a deficit greater than any in our nation’s peacetime history, we knew that we had to give the country the boost it needs, to build great railways and make journeys better for the millions of hard working people who use the train every day.

“The ‘Electric Spine’ will make a significant difference for passengers linking London, the Midlands and Yorkshire in a much more efficient rail line, connecting the South and North more effectively than ever before.

“As someone who cares deeply about the environment, the opportunity to dramatically expand rail, a greener form of transport than aviation or road is very exciting indeed. This investment will help people to choose trains over cars, reduce carbon emissions and provide a rail system that is faster, more reliable and greener.”

York Minster East Window work passes halfway mark

Part of Minster East Window

The York Glaziers Trust report that they are about halfway through conserving the Apocalypse panels on the Minsters Great East Window. More details can be found on their web site http://tinyurl.com/York-Glaziers

As part of the Minster’s York Minster Revealed project http://www.yorkminster.org/visiting/york-minster-revealed/ , over the next five years the Apocalypse scenes from this extraordinary window will be studied, conserved and returned with the protective glazing that will secure its future for many generations to come.

Visitors can follow the progress of this work in Bedern Glaziers Studio http://tinyurl.com/Bedern

Extra government grant allows York Council to break even

Only the receipt of a new home bonus of £714,000 prevented the York Council from outurning with a budget deficit during the last financial year. The windfall contribution turned a £365k loss into a £349k surplus.

The new homes bonus, which is intended to encourage local authorities to promote now house building and reduce the number of vacant properties, is calculated each October.

In York the Council Tax base at October 2011 showed an increase of 751 occupied properties compared to the previous years figure.

These included 266 affordable units.

This brought the total number of occupied properties in the City to 85,526.

Only 180 empty homes were recorded.

The Council will continue to receive £714K in annual bonus for the next 6 years. In addition, £1.1m in additional bonus for the current and successive financial years will be payable.

Whatever the present Council may claim, it made little or no contribution towards qualification for the new homes bonus.

Without the bail out, and the benefit of lower borrowing costs, the Council could have been is serious financial difficulty.

The draft accounts show a massive £1.5 million overspend on care services.

NB. The government web site http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingsupply/newhomesbonus/ describes the New Homes Bonus as “a powerful, simple and transparent incentive that means that those local authorities which promote and welcome growth can share in the economic benefits, and build the communities in which people want to live and work.
The Government provides additional funding or a ‘bonus’ for new homes by match funding the additional council tax raised for new homes and empty properties brought back into use, with an additional amount for affordable homes, for the following six years. The New Homes Bonus is based on past increases in housing supply”

New library opens in Rowntree park today

City of York Council’s library service is celebrating this week by opening the UK’s first library reading café.

Set in award-winning Rowntree Park, the library will form part of the new reading cafe, an extension of the citywide Explore brand, which places emphasis on providing high quality food, a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and flexible spaces to host different activities and events. The reading café will be staffed with a small team and the council will recruit two apprentices to work there. Income generated by café sales will fund the facility.

The council’s library services are bucking the national trend by opening a new facility when funding cuts are forcing closures elsewhere. Situated in a newly-renovated Edwardian tea shop in the city’s award-wining Rowntree Park, the 21st century, self-funded reading café with free wi-fi will open on the day the park celebrates its 91st birthday on 14 July 2012 with a traditional party and community fair.

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