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Get back in the saddle with free adult cycling sessions

City of York Council is wheeling out new, free cycling training sessions for adult beginners.

There will be two levels of training, one for absolute beginners who have never ridden before, and another for people who want to brush up on their cycling skills or gain more confidence.

Training sessions for both abilities will take place on Saturday 14 July for adults, and on Tuesday 17 July, for people over 50. All lessons take place at Rowntree Park, lasting an hour, with a maximum of 10 places per session. Continue reading

City to be asked to fund flags and propaganda

The York Council meeting on Thursday is to be asked by Labour to fly a “Gay Pride” flag over the Mansion House while taxpayers will be asked to fund a publication which will give the views of candidates in the Police Commissioner elections.

The LibDems have put down motions which would see 350 litter bins returned to the City’s streets while the Tories want to reduce the proportion of affordable housing provided on local developments to 10% (currently the proportion required ranges up to 40%)

Labour ruin a perfectly reasonable (to liberals) motion about equal rights by reopening the symbolism divisions of yester years. In the eighties some Labour activists wanted to fly the red flag above the Mansion House following one of their election victories. They were talked out of the idea by wiser heads and for many years now everyone has agreed that only the York flag would be flown there.

Perhaps more worrying is the plan to “ensure York Pride 2012 and Parade for Equal Marriage on Saturday 21st July is publicised via all CYC communications” Given that the motion will be debated only 5 working days before the event takes place, that is pretty much impossible. In any event, many of the thousands of communications issued each week by the Council are to defaulters. How appreciative the recipient of a penalty charge notice for illegal car parking would be, if urged to join a gay pride march, is a matter for speculation (and might be seen by some as a cruel and unusual punishment).

The arrangements for the Police Commissioner elections are a mess. The Commissioners powers are at best obscure to most potential electors. Voters will be expected to access a web site to get details of candidates and their policies.

In York and North Yorkshire candidates will be allowed to spend up to a legal expenses limit of £111,814, in pursuit of the £70,000 a year job.

However, asking Council Taxpayers to fund – what for many is an unnecessary change in Police management arrangements – would be an insult to the many hard working people in the City who are struggling to make ends meet.

Typically, a Council newspaper costs £3000 to produce to which should be added delivery costs of around £7000.

One Labour Councillor from York has already been declared as a candidate in the November Commissioner elections. The Tories have selected someone from West Yorkshire to be their flag bearer.

Big increase in road deaths in York

Accident figures from the Department of Transport

The number of people killed on York’s roads almost doubled last year.

The figures have been released by the Department of Transport ( and show that there were 7 fatalities on York’s roads in 2011 compared to only 4 in 2010.

The overall number of killed and seriously injured (KSI) shows a small increase although the total number of injury accidents (including “slight”) did reduce from 559 to 552.

Surprisingly the York Council has so far failed to debate the new figures which do suggest that a fresh initiative is required if the downward trend in accident numbers (KSI stood at 160 in 2006) is to be sustained.

There is no item in the Council forward programme which would allow the issue to be debated during the next 4 months.

The DpT report also makes gloomy reading for those who believe that 20 mph speed limits may be the solution to the problem. The biggest increase in accident numbers nationally occurred in 20 mph zones where there were 25% more accidents than in 2010.

All other built up areas – with speed limits of 30 and 40 mph – showed a small fall in accident rates.

Council playground neglected but Acomb Green equipment proves popular

Grange Lane playground equipment abandoned?

Scarcely 12 months after being officially opened, is the Grange Lane playground showing signs of neglect.

One piece of equipment has been unusable for several months.

The playground was one of several provided by the Council when it was under Liberal Democrat leadership.

With the Ward committee annual allocation for improvement to play provision in the Westfield area having been scrapped by the new Labour Council, it is to be hoped that existing facilities will not be allowed to rust away.

Acomb Green playground

Meanwhile the new play equipment provided by the Friends of Acomb Green is proving to be very popular with dozens of families visiting the facility each week

York800 – Some things never change.

In 1200, King John became involved in a long-drawn out war with France. This war was expensive and John was forced to introduce new taxes to pay for his army. This created a great deal of resentment in England, and John’s position was not helped when, in 1205, the king’s army lost control of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou and Maine.

Today we face a referendum on our continued participation in the EU.

In 1215, King John made another desperate attempt to gain control of his lost territory in France. Once again he was defeated and was forced to pay £40,000 to obtain a truce. When John tried to obtain this money by imposing yet another tax, the barons rebelled.

Today we complain about a North South divide in the way that our taxes are spent.

The king was obliged to sign a Magna Carta. In this charter the king made a long list of promises, including no new taxes without the support of his barons, a reduction in the power of his sheriffs and the right of a fair trial for all freemen.

Today everyone enjoys the right to a fair trial (other, possibly , than bankers, politicians and failed football club managers).

It was King John himself who gave York the chance of self-government. The disastrous and expensive military campaigns left him sorely in need of funds, and one way to raise them was to allow a town’s citizens to buy the right to rule themselves. York’s charter came in 1212, when King John allowed York’s citizens, rather than the Sheriff, to collect and pay the annual tax to the Crown, to hold their own courts and to appoint a mayor.

From then on, until local government reorganisation in 1974, York was a self-governing city under its own mayors.

In 1996 it threw off he yoke of Northallerton and once again became a prosperous and independent City.

Free compost on Sunday 9.30am until 2.30pm Harewood Whin

City of York Council and Yorwaste have teamed up to give local residents free compost this spring and summer.

Green fingered gardeners will be able to collect their free compost from Yorwaste’s Harewood Whin site, on Tinker Lane, off Wetherby Road on:

• Sunday 8 July
• Sunday 5 August
• Sunday 2 September
• Sunday 7 October

The compost will be available from 9.30am until 2.30pm each day and residents are asked to bring a shovel and bags or containers to take the compost home in

Fresh witness appeal for York collision

North Yorkshire Police are renewing their appeal for witnesses after the death of a man who was seriously injured in a road traffic collision near York.

It occurred at 3.50pm on Monday 2 July 2012, on A19 outside the Fairfield Manor Hotel in Skelton.

The collision involved a dark grey Ford Focus travelling from the A1237 towards Skelton and an 80-year-old man, from Helmsley, who was crossing the road walking towards the hotel.

The pedestrian was taken to Leeds General Infirmary by air ambulance, where he sadly died on Thursday 5 July 2012.

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Ouse will be 2 metres above normal levels In York but escapes worst of rainfall

York has escaped the worst of the flooding seen in the region and is expected to attract large numbers of visitors over the weekend.

Check out the current river level position on this Kings Staith web cam

Visit the Environment Agency web site at this address for more information on flood risks in the region

Westfield PCSO wins Safer Neighbourhood award

North Yorkshire Police Authority last week celebrated the work of Police Officers, Police Community Support Officers and Volunteers in the North Yorkshire’s Safer Neighbourhoods Awards 2012.

At the presentation evening last Friday (29 June) PC Ray Milligan from York was named as the North Yorkshire Police Officer of the Year 2012, with PCSO Stacey Taylor named the Police Community Support Officer.

Both PC Milligan and PCSO Taylor work in the York Safer Neighbourhood Command Area.