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Labour Leadership confirm plan to close Beckfield Lane recycling centre on 16th April

At tonight’s “cabinet” meeting the Council’s Leadership confirmed their plan to close the Beckfield Lane recycling centre on 16th April.

8 speakers attended the meeting to ask for the centre to stay open but none of the Labour Councillors present were prepared even to discuss the option.

So the scene is now set for a special Council meeting to take place at which a final decision will be made.

The meeting also decided to remove the cycle lane from the Clifton Green Junction. The decision will mean around £20,000 more being spent on remodelling a junction to introduce a layout markedly more likely to increase the number of accidents, according to professional advisers

Police investigate suspicious fire in Thoresby Road

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses after a suspicious fire in York.
Officers were alerted by the fire service at around 4pm on Monday 2 April 2012 after a flat caught fire on Thoresby Road in the Acomb area of the city.

Police believe that the blaze was started deliberately and are appealing to anyone with any information to come forward.

Officers are particularly keen to trace a man who was seen running away from the scene of the fire just after the incident occurred. He appeared to have soot on his face and was spotted heading onto St Stephens Road and then turning left onto Cornlands Road.

Acting Detective Sergeant Fionna McEwan, of York CID, said: “Fortunately nobody was injured in this incident, however deliberately starting a fire is a serious offence and we need to find out who is responsible.

“A man was seen running away from the scene of the incident and I am appealing to anyone who can help to identify him to contact the police or Crimestoppers with information.

“If you saw the man or have any information that can help the investigation please get in touch as soon as possible.”

Anyone who can help officers with their enquiries is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for Fionna McEwan or York CID.

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 12120052457.

Beckfield report: Early nomination for Booker Prize for Fiction?

The officer report on the potential closure of the Beckfield Lane recycling centre has now been published (barely 2 hours before it is due to be considered at a “Cabinet” meeting).

It reveals that the closure would only save about £40,000. Most of the previously quoted £130,000 saving actually comes from new contract rearrangements at Towthorpe tip.

The report throws around all sorts of “plucked from the air” figures for improving or moving the recycling centre.

These range from £250,000 to fill in the potholes at the present site (hands up those who would do it for less than £1000?) to a massive £3.7 million to move the facility to Harewood Whin.

Lack of access for people with disabilities is blamed for the closure decision. As it happens it those with limited mobility who most value having a local neighbourhood centre.

Most of the financial figures are nonsense.

Any move to Harewood Whin would be done as a partnership project with the present management company (Yorwaste) of the facility there. It’s clear from the report that negotiations on the move were jettisoned immediately Labour took control of the Council last year.

In any event, the costs can be accommodated within the existing revenue and capital budgets albeit some “vanity” projects like “free” WiFi and genius ideas like more City Centre road trains (see previous article) will have to be abandoned.

……….& congratulations to the 5 residents who have registered to speak at tonight’s meeting against the closure – despite all the hurdles that the Council could put in your way.

Tonight’s vote may be predictable but a long term war on the issue now seems inevitable.

The report can be found here.

Genius evades York Council

It is almost beyond belief that the Labour Council is asking people to vote for “genius” transport ideas without including any kind of cost/benefit analysis.

Apart from energy producing pavements which is an original idea (albeit at a time when 56% is being cut from footpath maintenance budgets!) they have produced a list including the tired (railway museum road train), bizarre (energy generation for buildings using public exercise bikes) and the unimaginative (smart car park tickets at a time when touch charge cards are being introduced in progressive City’s).

Don’t give up your day jobs lads!

Cornlands Park gardening group

Cornlands Park gardening group

Click to enlarge

The Cornlands Community Gardening Group shall now be meeting at 3pm – 5pm on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of the month.

This is extra to the sessions on the 2nd Tuesday & 4th Saturday of the month.

“The mixture of days may seem a bit confusing but in order for the gardening sessions to be open to more members of the community the different days will be more accommodating”.

The new Thursday session starts this week.

Thursday 5th April 3pm – 5pm
Tuesday 10th April 5pm–7pm
Thursday 19th April 3pm – 5pm
Saturday 28th April 10:30am-12:30pm

Thursday 3rd May 3pm – 5pm
Tuesday 8th May 5pm – 7pm
Thursday 17th May 3pm – 5pm
Saturday 26th May 10:30am-12:30pm

Thursday 7rd June 3pm – 5pm
Tuesday 12th June 5pm-7pm
Thursday 21st June 3pm – 5pm
Saturday 23th June 10:30am-12:30pm

Westfield planning applications

Planning applications Westfield Ward. click to enlarge

There seem to be more planning applications arriving at St Leonards Place than are being dealt with at the moment.

The long running sagas at The Green (planning application for new houses and flats) and St Stephens Road (off street parking space) are still shown on the Councils database as “under consideration”. It will be interesting to see the next set of performance indicators for the York Council planning office as, on the face of it, handing times are increasing.

Not much new of significance this month.

Apart from the usual house extensions and tree works, there seems to be trend in the Front Street/Green Lane area towards converting shops into residential accommodation. Latest is Summersgills at 8 Front Street. We wouldn’t be surprised to see that being the fate of the now vacated Council Offices on the Carr Lane junction.

Reversing the trend is an application to turn 58A Green Lane from residential into a barbers shop.

The proposal for a take away at 53A Front Street was withdrawn following objections.

Metal thieves to feel the impact of Operation Tornado

From 2 April the fight against metal theft will be taken to a new level as Operation Tornado is launched across the Yorkshire and Humber Region in a bid to restrict the movement of stolen metal.

The launch signals a warning to criminals that there is no market for stolen metals in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Already successfully trialled in the North East region earlier this year, Operation Tornado is being implemented by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Home Office, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), British Transport Police (BTP) North Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police.

Acting Chief Inspector Sarah-Jane Sanderson, of North Yorkshire Police, said:
“As from 2 April, anyone who wants to sell metal to participating dealers in North Yorkshire will now be required to provide proof of their identity by producing either a photo driving licence, passport or national identity card – which must show an address – supported by a utility bill under three months old which also shows their address.

She added: “This is another tool which will help the police stem the tide of metal theft by cutting off criminals’ cash-flow. We have watched the North East pilot with interest and are extremely pleased that we are able to adopt the initiative for North Yorkshire and the City of York.

“The aim is to encourage the estimated 50 to 60 registered scrap metal dealers across North Yorkshire to sign up to the scheme to help fight the trade in stolen metal, making it more difficult for thieves to make money as we will have removed all their avenues to sell metal on.”

Extraordinary’ meeting to save Beckfield Lane Site

Letter to Lord Mayor from Opposition parties.

All opposition councillors have joined together to call for an extraordinary meeting of the Full Council to debate the closure of the Beckfield Lane Household Waste and Recycling Centre.

The call comes as an officer report into the potential closure has been suppressed by leading Labour Councillors. The report is due to be considered at the Tuesday meeting of the Cabinet which is still going ahead at Fulford School (5:30pm – open to the public).

The report – which should have been published on the Councils web site over the weekend – was expected to shed some light on the claims that the closure would save “£130,000” over two years but that figure is now being disputed.

The Liberal Democrats along with Conservative, Green and Independent Councillors have used powers under the council’s constitution to call for the special meeting after the ruling Labour Group’s refusal to halt the controversial closure.

The Beckfield Lane site will close this month in a cost-saving measure by Labour-led City of York Council. However, the plans have sparked protests among those who use the amenity with 2,870 residents signing a petition calling for it to be kept open. This petition was presented at the last Council meeting. The site’s final day of operation is set to be April 15th.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Lib Dem Group Leader on the City of York Council commented:

“When Labour were elected they pledged to make the council more accountable to local people; however, they have completely ignored public opinion on this issue.

“It is essential that we have a proper open debate before the closure of this vital community facility. There is strong local feeling that this site should be kept open or a viable alternative provided.

“There is understandable fear that the closure could increase fly-tipping and hit York’s recycling targets; two areas that Labour promised to deliver on in their 2011 election manifesto.

“Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Green and Independent Councillors want to ensure that these views are heard and hope the site is saved as a result.”