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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 6 May
• Sunday 3 June
• 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.

Learn something new – Adult learners week from 12th may

Adults across the city are being asked to try something new as part of City of York Council’s York 800 Adult Learners week, starting on 12 May.

The week, which runs alongside national Adult Learners’ Week, will give residents the chance to get involved in a wide range of activities, including how to connect to the internet to view their family history, and a master class in creative digital photography with flowers.

Other courses include

• Landscape painting in 19th century Russia
• Helping you to get a job
• Assembling your personal statement
• Healthier, happier you
• Lunchtime limber (circle dance)

For more information on the York 800 Adult learners week please see

For more information on national Adult Learners Week visit

Big City Read – “Mystery at the Minster”

York Libraries have confirmed that this year’s Big City Read will be ‘Mystery in the Minster’ by Susanna Gregory, the latest novel in the bestselling Matthew Bartholomew crime series.

In her 17th Chronicle, Susanna brings Matthew to York to sort out a dispute over land. What starts as a legal wrangle ends in murder. From July to September 2012 York Libraries will be running a programme of events, walks, talks and workshops to tie in with the themes in the novel, including an author appearance from Susanna herself.

We recommend “Mystery in the Minster” as an excellent “who done it” set against a background of streets and institutions that many York residents will recognise.

Sunday 20 May – the brochure comes out

On Sunday 20 May the Library team will launch the Big City Read brochure at a special day at Explore York. They say “Come and pick up a brochure from us, have a chat to some of the Big City Read team, and be one of the first to book your tickets for the summer events”.

You could also join in one of the following events:

800 Years of ‘A City Making History’

1.30pm-2.30pm, in the Marriott Room at Explore York. Join Archivist Victoria Hoyle as she explores the forgotten corners of York’s civic archive. Find out about our treasure-trove of thousands of unique documents, each one telling a unique story. A sneak preview of our summer exhibition! Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment by contacting (01904) 552828 or If you can’t make this date, a similar talk will be taking place on Thursday 17 May.

Palaeography Tasters – How to read old handwriting

Handwriting has changed a lot over the last 800 years. Try your hand at deciphering the writing of a Tudor Mayor and a Georgian lady. Drop in any time on Sunday 20 May to have a go.

Other events begin in July when Susanna herself launches the Big City Read at 7pm on Wednesday 25 July at Explore York Library Learning Centre

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Litter bins to be reduced in York

big belly bin on trila in Acomb

Hi tech litter bin on Front Street

It seems that the Council will go ahead with its threat to reduce the number of litter bins in the City Centre. The are over 100 litter bins in use at present, each costing about £80. They are to be replaced with a small number of “big belly” bins costing around £3000 each.

53 convention bins will be replaced by just 13 of the green monsters.

A recent trial of one of the bins in Acomb proved disastrous with litter levels increasing everywhere.

One advantage of the big bins is that they can automatically report that they are full. However – as we have seen with the flawed roll out of the Iphone “app” for reporting fly tipping & graffiti – unless resources are available to deal promptly with reports then a problem can actually be made worse by change.

The huge “big belly” bins are visually intrusive and their roll out would conflict with the Councils stated aim of reducing street clutter. More seriously though, high levels of litter could damage the City’s image and deter tourists.

There is a place for the use of large bins. The supplying compnay offers models which allow for recyclable materials to be segregated. We can see that the careful distribution of this type of bin could be helpful in a busy City Centre.
……. but the widespread deployment of appropriately sized, conveniently located, litter bins should remain a high priority for a City which is so dependant on income from tourism.

The Council has recently acquired a poor reputation for taking impulsive decisions without thinking through the costs, or long terms consequences, of their actions.

We’ll be watching the decision meeting which is taking place on 15th May to see whether the “whole life” costs of the change are revealed.

Busking Festival comes to York in early June

York’s streets are alive with entertainment!

York’s very first festival celebrating street performance, Buskival, is launched today by City of York Council. This new event is sponsored by city centre retailer, HomeSense and will take place on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 June between 11am and 4pm at 12 different city centre locations, including outside quality homeware for less retailer, HomeSense, at Foss Islands Road.

York has had a long association with street entertainers and this festival will celebrate the sometimes wacky but wonderful tradition by showcasing the successful busking scheme operated by City of York Council. A trail of busking pitches will be created around York during the Diamond Jubilee weekend, which will form an easy path for members of the public to enjoy.

With over 50 buskers, entertainers and magicians there will be something for everyone to enjoy. To add to the occasion and put the festival into Buskival, some award winning street performers have also been specially invited to perform during the weekend.

As part of the two-day festival there will be a competition for members of the public to choose their favourite amateur busker. The winning artist will win £200 and there will also be runner-up prizes for second and third place.

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Extended Criminal Record checks for York Taxi drivers

The Council has decided to amend its policy to allow Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks to be undertaken for hackney carriage and private hire driver licence applicants, and on existing drivers when CRB renewals are undertaken. The current policy is for applicants to undertake a Standard CRB check.

The follows a recent legislative change by the Home Office to permit local authorities to request Enhanced Checks, announced on 29 February 2012 taking effect from 26 March 2012. (The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) (Amendment) Regulations 2012).

As part of the licensing process Licensing Authorities have to be satisfied the hackney carriage and private hire driver licence applicants are fit and proper persons before issuing a licence. CRB renewals are carried out on existing drivers to satisfy the Licensing Authority that they are still a fit and proper person to hold a driver licence. By law, the Licensing Authority shall not licence a driver unless they are satisfied of this.

A CRB check on a driver is regarded by the Council as an important safety measure for all drivers.

Katy B at Knavesmire to welcome Olympic Flame – 19th June

Stars set to shine at evening celebration to welcome Olympic Flame

Katy B will be lighting up the Coca Cola stage with former Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere at York Racecourse on 19 June as the climax act for the evening celebration of the Olympic Torch coming to York, it has been announced today (3 May 2012).

Besides Katy B who has released a single with Mark Ronson to mark the Olympic celebrations, the party on York’s Knavesmire will also feature a session with local African drumming groups Umbu and Calabash and also the sensational gospel sounds of the University of York’s choir Zamar.

The celebration will be open to all, unticketed and people who want to join the celebration and throw themselves into the sporting spirit are invited to tell City of York Council that they’re coming to the party by simply clicking onto and following the link.

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York people living longer

The York Council are reporting in a “Health and Wellbeing in York: Joint Strategic Needs Assessment” that York residents are living longer.

” City of York Council, the Primary Care Trust and partners have worked together to produce a report to help inform the future direction of health and wellbeing in the city. As part of the government’s far-reaching health reforms, local authorities will take on more responsibility for public health from April 2013.

The report called the Health and Wellbeing in York: Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2012 (JSNA) brings together information on current and future health and wellbeing needs. It builds on two previous reports and will be used to help make decisions regarding future strategies and plans.

There are four main sections: a snapshot of who lives in York, a look at “wellbeing” in its widest sense, lifestyles and a profile of health in the city.

The JSNA report shows that population is projected to continue increasing. The proportion of the population over the age of 65 years is expected to increase dramatically between now and 2029. Life expectancy has been rising; death rates from cancer have been falling and York scores better than the England average for many health indicators. Work in these areas needs to continue to maintain these successes.

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Backlash against green waste collection charges

Councils are facing a backlash from residents over moves to charge for green waste collection.
Over the past year, more and more local authorities have started charging for green waste collections in order to help plug holes in their budgets

In York, Labour have included a cut of £250,000 over the next 2 years in the costs of collecting green waste. The green bins have been popular in York with most residents in sub urban areas routinely using the service.

The cuts could be made either by discontinuing the service all together (and perhaps providing composting bins to residents) or by charging for the bins as Labour & Conservative Councils are doing elsewhere in the Country (see below).

Either way, when added to the rearrangement of collection rounds (different types of waste will in future be collected on different days of the week) and the closure of Household Waste Sites, it means significant change for many York residents.

If the Council are to go ahead with such a proposal then they should be consulting residents now, not leaving it to the last minute as happened with the Beckfield Lane issue.

Residents in Newcastle, Melton in Leicestershire and Bracknell Forest in Berkshire are the latest to come out against the charges, which they claim are equivalent to a stealth tax.

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Acomb Wood Drive footpath repairs start on Monday

Acomb Wood drive. click to enlarge

Residents will have a rare opportunity to see a footpath being reconstructed when work starts on Acomb Wood Drive on 7th May (see right).

The work consists of excavating the current surfacing and replacing with two new layers of tarmac.

The Contractor carrying out the work will be City of York Council’s Highways department which will be working between 8.00am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday.

It is the only street in the Westfield Ward which is likely to be reconstructed this year following the Labour Councils decision to cut the road repairs budget by 56%.