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Acomb Green sports sessions announced

Free multi-sport sessions will be kicking off Friday 28 October, 10am to 12noon on Acomb Green.The fun sessions encourage young people who aren’t usually very active to jump in and have fun. Sessions are free of charge for young people aged five to 18 years. All children under eight must be accompanied by an adult. No booking is required and all abilities are welcome

£190,000 boost for Westfield schools

The Coalition government has confirmed that an extra £1 million is to be allocated to York schools next year. The money takes the form of a “pupil premium” which provides funding to schools for children on free school meals. It was one of the four key commitments in the Liberal Democrat manifesto in 2010.
It is designed to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and is allocated to schools, who can spend it in whatever way they believe best supports children.
Children who have been looked after by local authorities for more than six months also qualify for the Pupil Premium.
In Westfield it will mean an extra £85, 888 for the local High School plus £53,192 & £51,240 respectively for the Westfield and Hob Moor Primary schools.
The allocations are the largest for any equivalent school in the City.
At the recent Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Education Minister Sarah Teather announced that the funding available for the Pupil Premium would be increased to £1.25bn. The funding available will continue to increase until 2014/15, when the scheme will be worth £2.5bn.
The funding means schools will now receive almost £500 for each child on free school meals to help reduce under achievement by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This year York’s schools will receive over £1.2m in Pupil Premium funding, £200,000 more than they received last year.
The full list of local allocations is reproduced below. Further information can be found on the following web site: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/financialmanagement/schoolsrevenuefunding/settlement2012pupilpremium

click to enlarge

Folly

Grange Lane hedge damage

A new access to the Grange Lane Park has been created… only 5 metres from the existing gap in the hedge.
The existing access has been in use for over 20 years and has gradually been improved over the years with a bitmaced access path laid, poop scoop bin provided and gate installed to deter motorcyclists.
The new access is marked by two wooden posts and an expensive “public footpath” sign both constructed out of the kind of timber that usually becomes popular around 5th November.
The area immediately inside the hedge has been declared a site of scientific interest following rare flora being found there. Breaks in hedge lines are also discouraged by conservationists as they interrupt the migration routes of small mammals.
However, none of thus seems to have been taken into account by the Council who failed to consult local residents about their plans.
It is possible that the Public Right of Way needed to be diverted to conform with the arcane 19th century footpath maps that some officials find compelling. But the cost of doing that – no one would be likely to object – would be a couple of hundred pounds rather than the £3000+ which the current scheme will add the taxpayers bills.
The Council should publish their intentions to undertake work like this in their “Your Ward” publication. That way some common sense might be injected into the process.

Second access point

Acomb branch office to close

Acomb branch office


Labour have confirmed their threat to close the Councils Acomb branch office. Currently located at the Front Street/Carr Lane junction the original plan had been to move the reception functions into a small extension to the Acomb Explore Library (erroneously derided as a “second Council HQ” in Labour’s election literature). Local estate managers and neighbourhood workers would also have been housed there while annual running costs would have been reduced by £60,000 compared to continuing the present arrangements.
Now the Labour leadership have agreed to give up the lease on the existing building next year, despite even their own surveys revealing that over 80% of Acomb customers wanted to have local face to face contact with Council officials.
Users now face a trek to the new Council offices in Station Rise adding to the congestion problems in the City. Disabled residents would face a particularly difficult journey.
In response Labour Councillors claim that people will use the internet to access Council services in the future. We will see.
Some interview session may be provided within the limited accommodation at Explore and at the Hob Moor children’s centre but they are unlikely to provide a satisfactory response particularly for urgent or complex issues.
We suspect that this is only the first part of an attack on the public service standards enjoyed by residents of Acomb. Labour have threatened to close the public toilets on Front Street
…and as recently as the beginning of September one Labour Councillor criticised the Front Street shopping area as being “quiet” with lots of empty property. She went on to tell The Press, “It’s disappointing when people lose vital services they rely on. ……….. because not everybody has the internet or a car”
Indeed!

Residents survey results. click to enlarge

£16,955 on offer to Westfield residents

The government has allocated nearly £17,000 to be spent over the next 4 years on community projects in the Westfield Ward. The “Neighbourhood Grant” is a minimum figure and comes from a £30 million national budget.
A Community Development Foundation (CDF) has been set up to administer the programme although Ministers are keen to maximise the involvement of community organisations. It is expected that local groups will match the grants with money or time.
The programme complements the “Community Organiser” (so called “Big Society”) initiative.
A “Community First” panel will be set up in Westfield and will help to determine priorities and monitor progress. It will be comprised entirely of local residents. The CDF are currently contacting voluntary organisations in the Ward to brief them on the opportunities available.
Steps are already being taken to set up the Westfield Community First Panel which will comprise between 4 & 8 local residents. Expressions of interest are welcome. More details can be found at http://cdf.org.uk/
In the longer term it is hoped to sustain investment in better community facilities by encouraging people and businesses to dedicate endowments to continuing the programme.

QUESTIONS YOU JUST CAN’T ANSWER

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?

Why do banks charge a fee on ‘insufficient funds’ when they know there is not enough?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Whose idea was it to put an ‘S’ in the word ‘lisp’?

What is the speed of darkness?

Why is it that people say they ‘slept like a baby’ when babies wake up every two hours?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it’s going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Do married people live longer than single ones or does it only seem longer?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Did you ever stop and wonder…….

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze
these pink dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?’

Who was the first person to say, ‘See that chicken there… I’m gonna eat the next thing that comes outta it’s bum.’

Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs !

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on……

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?

York Library use still increasing

Vistor numbers at York’s libraries continued to increase last year. Much of the change, which reverses the national trend, can be put down to the modernisation programme implemented by the last Liberal Democrat Council administration.
By the end of April, usage had reached an all time high with approaching 1 million residents using their local library. The last few months have seen visitor numbers sustained.

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Westfield security improvements

Some of the delayed improvements which were to have been funded from the Councils “target hardening fund” are now being implemented.

Tedder Road park railings


These include the Tedder Road park railings which are designed to reduce the number of stray balls that find their way into properties which lie opposite the park.
We understand that the plan to install a CCTV camera to provide surveillance of the back lane between Beaconsfield Street and Front Street has also been agreed.

Shower gel approach won’t work

Library Square


So we’re told by the Council Leadership that a new initiative “Reinvigorate York” will focus on three key areas which aim to improve traffic and pedestrian flow, improve the “tourist, retail and cultural experience of visitors” and to rid the centre of unnecessary clutter such as some bollards and signs.
It’s really a rebranding of the “York Pride” initiative of 2003 which was aimed at cleaning up a City where public service standards had slipped.
The “removal of clutter” part of the scheme at least, is apparently being backed by Ron Cooke from the Civic Trust. Ron has made progress gradually with his campaign to declutter City centre streets. For example, intrusive signs near the Minster in Petergate were replaced by low level units. The same has happened at a dozen other City centre locations over the last 2 years……… and there are relatively inexpensive changes which could be made to ageing signs in Blake Street and Davygate
However there is a paradox to be addressed. If the Council is to remove street clutter like cycle stands then it risks losing the battle to encourage people to walk and cycle into the City centre. The alternative would be more traffic (or economic decline). Ambitious plans to provide covered and secure cycle parking facilities – at one time the redundant tunnel under the Coppergate centre was mooted as a possibility – are currently stalled because of high costs.
Unobtrusive – but still secure – cycle parking locations are difficult to find, but are essential if cyclists are not to hijack the nearest lamppost, seat or set of railings.
Similarly, City centre traffic lights may frustrate some and may “ruin” the odd photograph. But would anyone want to risk pedestrian safety by removing them altogether? Pedestrian casualties remain a source of concern – as we have seen recently – in the City centre.
….& it’s hardly surprising if, at the end of a busy summer season, some public street furniture is showing signs of wear and tear. That is why – as happens every year – there is money in the Councils budget for repair and maintenance.
If substantial investment in renewing the streetscape is to be made then the money won’t come from existing budgets. Apart from the Deangate Piazza scheme, there is no other major City centre funding commitment included in the Councils 4 year capital programme. The Council has also recently committed more of its future resources to funding additional park and ride sites, putting still more pressure on limited capital investment resources.
The omens for political support are not good. Last year the local Labour leadership vigorously opposed the plans which led to the paving of Library Square – just the type of initiative that is needed to raise standards in the “public realm”.
It is also disingenuous to suggest that the Council is waiting for “government grant” decisions before announcing specific additional improvement schemes. The governments funding commitments to Local Authorities, for the economic recovery period, have been known for the last 12 months.
The truth is that any investment will have to come principally from the private sector (who will want something in return), with heritage conservation schemes possibly in line for some National Lottery funding.
The sooner that a City Centre Action Plan is agreed, through the Local Development Plan process, the sooner sensible expenditure priorities can be decided.