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Shared homes to be limited to 20%

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The Council will be considering on 9th January a plan which would limit the number of shared houses in the City to 20% of the total stock.

The calculation may be done at either a (900 home) neighbourhood level or on a street by street basis.

At the moment only “houses in multiple occupation” (HMOs) with more than 6, non related, occupants need planning permission. The new rule would require an application for any property where 3 or more, non family, members share facilities. It is aimed at controlling the growing number of properties in parts of the City which are let on a “rooms” basis mainly to students.

Those living near some HMOs complain about the unkempt appearance of properties particularly during the 4 months a year that they are empty. Others point to lifestyle differences in neighbourhoods which otherwise might be dominated by either families or retired people. Residents in estates like Badger Hill have been particularly vocal with their complaints.

The political parties represented on the Council were divided on how to deal with the issue. The Liberal Democrats favoured the introduction of an “approved landlord” scheme which would have controlled – by agreement – both the maintenance of properties and a code of conduct for occupants.

Labour favoured an “Article 4” Direction which required a planning application before any property could become a HMO.

The major issue is now what percentage of HMOs should be allowed in an area or street before ithey effect its “character” ?

The 20% limit will come as a surprise to many with a significantly higher figure having been canvassed.

If a 20% limit were to be applied to a neighbourhood then it would have less of an effect than applying a street by street limit.

A combination of the two restrictions (neighbourhood + street) could mean that large sections of the City would be excluded from further HMO conversions. This would have the effect of pushing the conversions further away from the Universities with repercussions for transport and other related public services.

An unintended consequence may be that ordinary working people – who share accommodation – could be caught by the restriction. The option of limiting the change only to student occupied properties (which can be easily identified as students are exempt from paying Council Tax) is not being recommended by housing officials.

Many students would prefer to live on campus. The historic attractions of living in the community included lower rent levels. But £100 a week for a room is not uncommon these days and campus flats are increasingly attractive. However only limited amounts of purpose designed student accommodation is currently in the pipeline.

York is now highly dependent on the “knowledge sector” for its economic prosperity. Setting an artificially low limit on the number of HMOs permitted in an area could damage that prosperity.

At the moment the Council seems to be in danger of going too far in trying to placate sectional interests.

Humour week. Caption competition 3

Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just push off and leave me alone.

2. Sex is like air. It’s not that important unless you aren’t getting any.

3. No one is listening until you break wind.

4. Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

6. If you think nobody cares whether you’re alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.

7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

8. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

9. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

10. If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

11. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

12. Some days you are the dog, some days you are the tree.

13. Don’t worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

14. Good judgment comes from bad experience and most of that comes from bad judgment.

15. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

16. There are two excellent theories for arguing with women. Neither one works.

17. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

18. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

19. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our arse. Then things just keep getting worse.

20. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

ftr – the bogus claims

ftr on York's number 4 route

Artic defence - click to enlarge

Strange article in The Press earlier in the week with the Council Leader apparently saying the ftr running agreement would be scrapped “in June”.

Strange because the 5 year deal had already come to an end in June 2011; 5 years after it was signed at a York Racecourse ceremony.

There was never any question of the agreement being extended.

It was put in place to ensure that the number 4 bus route remained unaltered for a period long enough to ensure that taxpayers got a return on the investment made in providing off street car parking, resurfacing roads, improving junctions and installing raised kerbs to improve access from bus stops.

It was thought that the Press story was linked to a bus service report that is due to be considered at a Council Strategy meeting next Thursday (5th Jan). However the report makes no mention of individual bus routes and simply agonises over the need to consult residents about further changes to the bus network (more on this later in the week).

While no one would pretend that the ftr has been greeted with universal acclaim, the vehicle the vehicle provides high levels of accessibility for disabled people and set new standards of comfort in its spacious air conditioned passenger compartment. The hosts/conductors are generally friendly and valued while the ultra modern appearance still attracts children to the City who simply want to “have a ride” on the vehicle.

Time moves on though, and improved engine technology means that more economical buses with lower emission levels are now becoming available.

The last Council hoped to use hybrid type buses on the new Park and Ride routes. It would be a small step to extend the modernisation to include “stage carriage” services like the number 4. Trials of some of the low/zero emission bus options available took place earlier in the year on the Designer Outlet to City centre Park and Ride route. The trial was abandoned by Labour when they took control of the Council in May.

A key issue would be the cost for companies who want to modernise their bus fleets with, for example, the new style double deckers recently introduced in London costing 4 times the price of an £300,000 ftr.

The London Mayor – Boris Johnson – hopes to get the cost of his “Routemaster” style vehicle down to £315,000 each through bulk purchase. 11 mpg on the new hybrid is promised although the inclusion of a “hop on, fall off” rear platform means that a conductor would have to be carried.

The ftr has a capacity of 100 (53 seated, 47 standing) compared to the new “Boris bus” (87 people — 62 sitting and 25 standing) so overcrowding could be an issue.

More realistically, a conventional 2012 hybrid “bendy bus” has many advantages and costs only about £20k more than an ftr.

In the meantime a resident writing on the Press website has suggested that the Council Leader is tilting at windmills when claiming to “slay” the ftr.

A Don Quixote approach we do not need. Just some clarity on what changes are to be made to bus services and – crucially – how any such changes are to be paid for?

Humour week – caption competition 2


I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself,’Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.’
– Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement..
– Mark Twain

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible
– George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.
– Victor Borge

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
– Mark Twain

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
– Socrates

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
– Groucho Marx

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
– Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.
– Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
– Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.
– Rodney Dangerfield

Money can’t buy you happiness …. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
– Spike Milligan

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.
– Joe Namath

I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.
– Bob Hope
I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it..
– W. C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
– Will Rogers

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation.
As you grow older, it will avoid you.
– Winston Churchill

Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty.. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out..
– Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.
– Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist’ s diet:
If it tastes good spit it out.

What’s on in York: Jan – March 2012

What;s on in January double click to enlarge

What's on in February double click to enlarge

What's on in March double click to enlarge

More information

Minster tel. 0844 939 0015

York Theatre Royal tel (01904) 623568

York Barbican tel. 0844 854 2757

Grand Opera House tel. 0844 847 2322

Visit York tel. 01904 550099


Humour week – Caption competition 1 (and a Christmas cracker selection)

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• What is Santa’s favourite pizza? One that’s deep pan, crisp and even.

• What does the word minimum mean? A very small mother.

• What’s round and bad tempered? A vicious circle

• How do you make a goldfish age? Take away the g.

• My wife has finally left me because of my history obsession although I told her it was all in the past

• My misses has just left me after saying I think about football more than her. I was gutted, I’ve been with her for 5 seasons

• My ex-wife is spreading false rumours about me being schizophrenic. Well, 3 can play at that game

• Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could have your attention for a moment. I would become a better public speaker.

• My New Years resolution for 2011 is to stop leaving everything so late

• I used to know this guy who hung around on the corner of maps. He was a legend

• On a scale of 0 to 1 how much do you love binary?

• I launched my own clothing line last night. I should have taken the washing in before letting off the fireworks

The Queens Speech

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy!).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.
11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

No waste collection over holiday period/Council offices opening hours

The Council have issued a statement reminding residents that there will be no rubbish, recycling or green bin collections between Monday 26 and Friday 30 December.

Residents are advised to refer to their collection calendars, which were delivered to all households recently, to find out what their collection arrangements are this Christmas.

For more information visit for details about changes to the rubbish, garden waste and recycling collections over the festive period.

If residents have not received a copy of their calendar please email or contact Smarter York at the York Customer centre on 01904 551551 for a new one (between 8:30am to 7pm weekdays.)

Household Waste Recycling Centres will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. The sites will be open as usual on all other days for residents to bring their excess festive rubbish for recycling.

Recycling and composting: After Christmas remember to take real Christmas trees for composting.

Alternatively, real Christmas trees can go in the green wheeled bins for composting so long as the tree fits inside the bin with the lid closed shut.

Christmas cards and non-metallic wrapping paper can be put out for recycling in your paper and card recycling box. Make sure you also recycle all your wine bottles, cardboard boxes, beer cans and sauce jars.

Residents can also use home compost bins to discard of any Christmas dinner leftovers or non-metallic wrapping paper, envelopes, burst balloons and corks.

For the latest news and information:
– follow the council’s Waste Services Team Facebook
– Twitter@ZeroWasteYork
– Or at the Zero Waste York website

Council offices will be closed over the Christmas period from Saturday 24 December to Tuesday 27 December inclusive and on Monday 2 January.

The council’s offices, reception points and call centre will close from 4pm on Friday 23 December and Friday 30 December.

Out-of-hours and emergency contact numbers can be found at or by calling 01904 551550.