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Hugh Bayley bogus claim

York Central Labour MP Hugh Bayley has been writing to some constituents claiming that the sale of Union Terrace has been under discussion for “18 months”. In the letter to a constituent (see below) he claims that I met with St Johns Vice Chancellor David Fleming in “January 2010” to discuss the Universities expansion plans.
That would have been a truly remarkable achievement on both our parts as David Fleming only took up his post at St John’s 6 months later in June 2010.
I have invited Hugh Bayley to retract his, obviously bogus, claims.
It just goes to show though how the truth has been the main victim of this ill considered project.

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Any colour you want as long as its black

Although Labour have decided not to give residents the option of “no sale” when consultation starts shortly on the Union Terrace issue, it is apparent that their party is divided on the issue.
What has been forgotten is that there are many other controversial proposals that they have in the pipeline. Having endorsed the Simpson “Beautiful City” report, with what seemed indecent haste last year, the Labour Leadership know that they now have to deliver a traffic free “Great Street” – with a tram link (!) – amongst other things.
Car parking will be a big issue as the Councils local plan approaches completion. The Haymarket car park is already on the Council “for sale” list and several groups want to see the Castle car park grassed over.
The Council’s current policy – agreed in 2009 when all 3 major parties backed it – is to retain broadly the same number of parking spaces in the City centre as exist now. This hasn’t been changed by the new administration so one wonders where these spaces will come from?
The Council now needs to pause. It needs to have a clear and practical vision of where its wants to be with the City centre in the short and long term.
One piece of good news for James Alexander though. I understand that he took second place in the George Michael look alike contest over the weekend. Congratulations!

George Michael

Events at Acomb Explore Library this week

Wednesday 3rd August Time 7.00pm
Price £3.00 (YorkCard) or £4.00 Do you know your Morse from your Poirot? Test your knowledge and pit your wits against other readers. A quiz covering a wide range of crime writing. Come as a team (max 6) or join a team on the night.

Be a Cheerleader!
Thursday 4th August 2.00pm – 3.00pm
All sessions are for 5 – 8 year olds. Tickets cost £2 per person or £5 per family (a maximum of 2 adults and 3 children). Have you ever seen cheerleaders performing at a match and wanted to join them? Here is your chance to have a go. No equipment needed. Just come in comfy clothes.

Tickets and further information available from Explore Acomb Library Learning Centre
Tel. 01904 552651 email

Union Terrace coach park to be reprieved?

Coach park to be reprieved?

York’s Chief Executive issued a statement on Friday which could be taken to give the impression that the last LibDem administration may have supported the sale of Union Terrace.
This simply isn’t true. We never even discussed the possibility.
Challenged to produce any evidence of our prior involvement with the project the Labour leadership have failed.
No minutes of meetings, no Emails, no correspondence.
There couldn’t be. The last administration simply didn’t commission a report on a possible sale of the car/coach park. It was all a smokescreen to cover up the Labour leaderships blunder.
What actually happened has been well chronicled in the local media and on this web site.
It was James Alexander’s statement to the media on 18th June which kicked off the furore.
Lest anyone forget over the next few days as Labour try to extricate themselves from this ludicrous muddle, this is what he said when announcing the sale 6 weeks ago.
………A MULTI-MILLION pound deal to sell off one of York’s main city centre car and coach parks could create more than 100 jobs and provide new facilities for students and the public. City of York Council is set to sell the Union Terrace coach and car park to York St John University, which plans to expand its existing campus across the road.
Council leader James Alexander has backed the scheme, which he says will commit at least £2 million to the council’s Reinvigorate York agenda to revitalise the city centre and install “pay on exit” car parking in its car parks. But traders in nearby Gillygate have broadly condemned the move, saying it would deprive them of much-needed passing tourist trade.
Count Alexander said that instead of using Union Terrace as a drop-off point for coaches, the council would look at multiple sites in the city centre to spread visitors across the city.
He said: “York St John plays an important role in the economic vitality of the city and the expansion will further help this by providing 100 new jobs at the university and providing capacity for 100 knock-on jobs, in addition to the impact of increased student numbers.
“As someone who used to work for York St John, I realise how important it is as an employer to local residents who are finding it very tough at the moment.
“The increased students, staff and visitor numbers should also help the business of traders along Gillygate, who often rely on the associated custom of the university.”
The university plans to expand its current numbers to 8,000 over the next four years, including an extra 1,000 international students.
Although detailed plans for the site are still being finalised, some of the options York St John is looking at include academic space, sport and recreational facilities for students and the public, event and exhibition space and student accommodation which it hopes will help inject an extra £45 million for the city’s economy.
No claims at that time then that he was inheriting a timetable from the previous administration. No hint of an officer’s report which might have presented facts about the implications of such a proposal. He clearly expected a rapturous reception for his scheme and wanted all the credit
As we reported on this web site on Wednesday, Labour now seem set to consult on other options which could involve the joint use of the Union Terrace site. This is what we – and many residents – have been suggesting for several weeks. Whether any consultation will be done properly and include other major proposals which will have a major impact on the City centre (and which are evolving as part of the Local Development Framework plan) remains to be seen.

Dudestock hits York

DATE: Sat 6 Aug
VENUE: Bustardthorpe Field, York Knavesmire
TIME: 12noon to 11pm
COST: £10 adult, £7.50 children
Bustardthorpe will be transformed into a family-friendly music festival, with a fantastic line-up of bands to keep you entertained raising money for York’s Special Care Baby Unit
The day will be divided into two halves – a family-friendly daytime period, and a night of revelry and great music. Children’s play area, licensed bar, food court. full details are on

Weeds in Bloom

Weeds are gradually overwhelming parts of the City as warm weather coupled with occasional rain provides ideal growing conditions.
With the City in the national final of the Britain in Bloom contest it would be a shame if lack of weed clearance jeopardised our chances of success.
Problem areas can be reported for clearance to the Council via their 24/7 web site

Riverbank near Marygate

Turf Tavern

Turf Tavern

The recent announcement that the Turf Tavern on Thanet Road will close at Christmas will disappoint many.
What most don’t realise is that the Council held a restrictive covenant on the use of the building. This could have been used to protect the site.
Apparently on Tuesday (26th) the new cabinet member for City Strategy (Dave Merrett) agreed to waive this covenant paving the way for the demolition of the pub and the erection of housing on the site.
What is scandalous is that there was no consultation on the question of the use of the covenant and no item was placed on any public agenda prior to Tuesdays decision.
This drift into secrecy and political spin is sadly now part of a trend that we are seeing in York.
Councillors are now “authoring” the reports that inform the council’s decision making process. A key annex in the report on Union Terrace has not been made available to even Opposition Councillors; a clear change in policy since the May elections.
This has apparently been facilitated by the Councils Audit and Governance committee – which is charged with looking after taxpayer’s interests – who on 26th July scrapped the Councils report writing protocol altogether.
This was an agreement that had secured all party endorsement only 3 years ago.
Earlier the protocol, which prevented the inclusion of comment from Labour Councillors in the Councils media releases and publications, had been relaxed.
Worse the Governance committee has also now scrapped a whole range of other protocols which were established to protect residents from the worst excesses of a failing Council.
Important amongst those scrapped was one protecting “whistle blowers”. This gave officers some protection if they chose to make an irregularity public.
The connection between secret deals and pressure on professional officers to conform is not too difficult to fathom.