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Labour to abandon Acomb in 4 weeks?

Acomb Office. Set to close soon?

Rumours are circulating that Labour intend to close the Councils Acomb Office before the end of February. Previously the plan had been to move staff into the new Council HQ which is being built in Toft Green when it was completed in early 2013.

Now it seems that staff face a double move suggesting at least £50,000 extra in costs together with an, as yet unknown, bill for the termination of the York Road office lease. It is expected that the Council will also be liable for dilapidations.

It will almost certainly mean another empty building in the Acomb shopping area which has been blighted in recent months as it struggles to face up to changing economic times.

Officials have been scouting the area looking for cheap premises in which to hold “drop in” sessions but there has been no recent consultation with users of the office about their needs.

The Liberal Democrat Council had announced 2 years ago that it was to move customer facing staff into a small extension to the Acomb “explore” library. The plan was abandoned by Labour after the local elections following a deluge of misinformation about costs. Ironically the current double move strategy will cost taxpayers and tenants more than the original plan while severely limiting the opportunities that customers have to speak with estate managers and community workers.

The panic move comes only a few days before Labour announce, in their budget for the forthcoming year, what is expected to be the biggest cut in public service standards for over 50 years.

Bike suspect captured on CCTV

Bike theft suspect

York police have released a CCTV image of a man suspected of stealing a bike.

The image shows the suspect stealing a silver Raleigh mountain bike from the rear yard of the British Heart Foundation shop on North Street sometime between 11am and 5pm on 21 September 2011.

Officers are appealing to anyone who recognises the suspects to get in touch.

PC David Scaife, of York police, said: “The suspect can be seen on CCTV cutting a phone cable which the bike was locked to and riding off with the lock still attached to the bike.

“I am appealing to anyone who can help us identify him to contact the police or Crimestoppers with information.”

Anyone who can help the police with their enquiries is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for PC David Scaife or York police.

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 12110161122.

York in Bloom

City of York Council is reminding residents that the closing date for Yorkshire in Bloom entrants is Tuesday 31 January.

Possible entrants have until next week to take part in the Yorkshire in Bloom competition and could be someone who works in their local neighbourhood to create lasting environmental improvements or someone who just Loves Where They Live*.

Yorkshire in Bloom is part of Britain in Bloom, the largest horticultural campaign in Europe, which seeks to improve local neighbourhoods through the competition fostering a sense of civic pride and community spirit involving local organisations such as schools, voluntary groups, businesses and residents.

York in Bloom has entered the city category. Other entries so far from York include Low Moor Community Kids’ Allotment, Fulford in Bloom, Upper and Nether Poppleton in Bloom, Coppergate Centre, York St John University, Dunnington, Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Primary School and the Royal York Hotel.

Liz Levett, head of Environmental Enforcement and Parking Services, said: “This is a great way for us to celebrate and recognise our community efforts. The York in Bloom committee is happy to give help and support to individual entries. It is easy to enter – just go to the Yorkshire in Bloom website www.yorkshireinbloom.co.uk.”

Better Buses

Vehicles used in York eco bus trial in 2010

The York Council is being urged to submit a bid to the better bus fund. All Local Authorities can bid for a maximum of £5million from the £50million fund. The investment is to support improvements to the bus network which will deliver “benefits for the bus passenger and economy and reduce carbon emissions”.
All bids must be submitted by 24th February 2012 and can be made up of capital, revenue, or a combination of the two.

The Liberal Democrat led Council initiated the trial use of low emission buses over 12 months ago and use of the fund could have helped to introduce such vehicles into the City on a permanent basis.

Bids need the support of key bus operators. Proposals that receive the support of all bus operators in the area will be preferred and proposals must not favour one particular bus operator.

Whilst match funding is not a prerequisite, preference will be given to bids which have an element of match funding either from the Local Authority or bus operators.

It is understood that the Council propose to undertake works on a spine route that has been highlighted by operators as a location of “unpredictable delay”, namely Stonebow-Pavement- Coppergate, linked to the adjoining stretch of Clifford Street- Ouse Bridge-Micklegate-George Hudson Street-Rougier Street-Station Avenue.

The Council says it proposes to work with operators to identify improvements in the following areas:
• reliability of traffic movements
• restriction and enforcement
• highway and waiting facility/interchange improvements
• carbon/emission improvements

“Strategic modelling work is being undertaken that will identify traffic redistribution patterns as a result of restrictions and highlight junctions where improvements will be required in order to support the alterations to the spine”.

In other words, they area intending to go ahead with their plans to ban cars and trucks from most of the City centre. Ironic in the extreme given that Labour in 2003 opposed more pedestrianisation because of its “knock on” effect it might have on alternative routes such as Kingsway North.

Do you believe people who’ve worked hard all their lives deserve a fair deal in their retirement?

We do.

It’s why we’re delighted that Lib Dems in Government have delivered the biggest ever rise to the basic state pension.

From April the basic state pension will go up by £5.30 a week.

That’s a massive £200,446.00 for the 37,820 older people living here in York.

And the news gets better.

Pensioners can feel secure knowing the Lib Dem ‘triple-lock guarantee’ means their basic state pension will go up every year. It will rise in line with earnings, inflation, or by £2.50 – whichever is the most.

Never again will there be insulting 75p increases like there were under the last Labour Government.

Pensioners can check they’re receiving everything they’re entitled to by calling AgeUK’s national helpline on 0800 169 6565.

Lib Dem help for first time buyers

Lib Dems in government are taking action to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder

Lib Dems in Government are taking action to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder.

A new scheme will see the Government act as guarantor for up to 100,000 mortgages, helping thousands get on the housing ladder for the first time.

Local LibDem Housign spokesman Steve Galloway said said: “Many people have told me they feel trapped in the rented sector because they can’t raise the big deposits needed to buy their first home.

“This action by the Lib Dems in Government will help those people who can’t call on the bank of Mum and Dad when buying their first home” The previous Labour Government let first time buyers down in their failure to regulate the banks. This saw many first time buyers sold mortgages they couldn’t afford to pay.

The new Government backed scheme will be subject to strict criteria and will be available to potential buyers from March 2012.

Labour Councillor wanders off again

No doubt working on the “moving target” theory our old friend Cllr J Riches is on the move again.

In 2010 he was living in the Micklegate Ward.

In early 2011 he moved into the Holgate ward, shortly after being selected to be a Labour Council candidate there.

Following his election he moved out and into a flat in Beaconsfield Street in the Westfield Ward.

Now the Councils web site shows him as having moved to an address in Leeman Road.

Residents will be able to identify the property from the queue of estate agents waiting patiently outside.

I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star
Wheels are made for rolling, mules are made to pack
I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Life can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry
Home is made for coming from, for dreams of going to
Which with any luck will never come true
I was born under a wandrin’ star
I was born under a wandrin’ star

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hello
Heaven is goodbye forever, its time for me to go
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star

When I get to heaven, tie me to a tree
For I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be
I was born under a wandrin’ star
A wandrin’ wandrin’ star

Joe Riches

Lee Marvin

Guildhall – future under debate

York Guildhall

The petition aimed at getting the Council to reveal its future plans for the Guildhall is beginning to attract more supporters. It is set to become one of the largest “on line” petitions collected over the last few months. It can be supported by accessing this link

http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ have your say Petitions Save the Guildhall

The Councils plans, to vacate the Guildhall, are being reviewed at a special Scrutiny Management Committee which is being held on Monday, 30th January, 2012 (5.00 pm Guildhall). The meeting is open to the public.

Meanwhile the Council is pressing ahead with work on its new HQ in Toft Green. When complete the building will provide a base for approximately 1400 staff.

Construction is well underway on the new office accommodation which includes a refurbishment of the existing (former railway HQ) building together with a proportion of new build totalling approx 13,600sqm.Construction is scheduled to be completed, and the building handed over to the council, at the end of September 2012.

Following a period of fit out and familiarisation the council will begin the process of relocating staff to the building from the end of 2012. The building will be fully operational early in 2013.

We have been inundated with claims and suggestions about the (still secret) future role that the Councils leadership see for the Guildhall. These include use as a possible Arts Centre and /or drug use advisory office. Others have suggested in the media that the building could be converted into residential accommodation.

However, all of these suggestions seem highly unlikely to us as the internal layout and listed status of the (labyrinthine) building means that options for change are very limited. Until recently there was a caretakers flat in the building and there is a modern annex with a separate access both of which might provide some flexibility, but office or leisure (museum) use remain the only obvious options for the historic part of the complex.

The Council has recently announced that hire charges for the Guildhall will increase by 70% for the next (financial) year suggesting that part of their plan is to stifle demand for the casual hire of the hall and adjacent committee rooms.

Pedestrians and cyclists urged to stay safe

North Yorkshire Police are urging pedestrians and cyclists to make sure they can been seen from dusk until dawn.

This warning follows a number of collisions across the force in recent months where the pedestrian’s or cyclist’s lack of visibility may have been a contributory factor in the incident.

The advice issued by the force is:

· Wear something reflective or light coloured

· Always walk facing the oncoming traffic

· Pay attention to other road users

· If you must walk along a road without a path, stick to the verge

· Consider carrying a torch

Chief Inspector John Wilkinson, from the force’s Specialist Operations Command, said: “I am appealing to pedestrians and cyclists who use the roads during the hours of darkness to ask themselves before they start their journey: “Can drivers see me?”. If they have the slightest doubt, then the chances are that motorists can’t.

“I strongly advise that they wear something light coloured or reflective and an even use a torch if possible.

“It is vital that motorists can see you so they can slow down and give enough room to pass by safely