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Barbican

Good to see the Barbican reopened and without the need for the £800,000 taxpayers subsidy which was the root cause of its closure 6 years ago.
Now the private sector has taken over its management and the first couple of concerts have been well attended.
Unfortunately The Press are already publishing letters which seek to rewrite the buildings history.
The Barbican complex never broke even following Labours decision in the 80’s to spend £12 million on building it. There was never a business plan in place which exploited its potential for conferences and much of the time it was under-used.
By 2000, the swimming pool (built in the 1970’s) needed a minimum of £3 million spending on it while the auditorium needed substantial modernisation works to meet new health and safety legislation. At that time the then Labour administration, decided to sell with the possibility that the swimming pool might be rebuilt as part of a redevelopment of the whole site.
There was little interest from developers with only one consortium promising to continue to stage concerts in the auditorium (using a company called Absolute Leisure which had nightclub interests in parts of the North East).
The consortium (Barbican Venture) became the preferred bidder for the site.
The wheels came off the project when first legal hurdles and then planning delays could not be overcome quickly. Absolute Leisure went bankrupt in 2007 and the process of finding someone to run the centre had to start again.
Fortunately in 2009 SMG – who had grown quickly to become a big player in the concert tour industry – expressed an interest in running the Centre. Later they were to invest £2 million in refurbishing the venue.
But, like it or not, one way or another the Barbican would have been closed for most of the last 6 years what ever decisions the council had taken.
Now it has a chance to benefit the local economy although, with many peoples disposable incomes very stretched, some anxious eyes may turn to the fortunes of competitors who cater for a similar market in the City (such at the two theatres).

Lowfields school site interest

We understand that the Council has been approached by developers keen to provide elderly persons accommodation on part of the former Lowfields school site.
Use for elderly persons accommodation was the option favoured by most of the residents living in the area when they were surveyed last year.
The site has the advantage of easy access to all the Front Street Acomb facilities which include a Post Office, chemists, doctors surgeries, dentists, the “Explore” library and much more.
Lowfields is also only a short walk from the number 4 ftr bus stop.
We understand that the site might accommodate 2 specialist care homes together with around 21 bungalows.
Most of the site will remain as open space.
Further information is expected to be available later in the summer.

Election results analysis

A fuller analysis of how people voted in the recent Council elections is now available (see below).
Although attracting the support of 38% of voters Labour now has 55% of the Council seats.
Support for fringe parties such as the BNP collapsed while the Liberal Democrats came second in the popular vote both in the York Central constituency and overall throught the Council area.
The Greens saw a small increae in their vote reflecting the additional condidates that they fielded. The Conservatives attracted fewer votes than in 2007 but this may have been partly due to their choosing to field fewer candidates.

The Press – an open letter

Having been away from the City on Saturday, much to my surprise I returned to find several people concerned about my health and wellbeing.
This appears to have its genesis in your coverage of the local election results and in particular the use of 3 photographs of me apparently looking “stressed”.
I am one of the least emotional people around and was entirely phlegmatic about Fridays likely election results.
Had your photographer stalked every candidate in the room then he could have at some point come up with a similar shot during what was a long counting session (around 5 hours before the first results were available).
You coverage distorted the atmosphere and I can only assume that your staff wished to pander to the triumphalist element who choose to express their views in personally abusive terms. It has been evident for some years that The Press was prepared to tolerate such – minority – extreme views on your website. Your willingness to demonise local personalities in your pages is, I suppose, just an extension of where the national media is going. That doesn’t make it right
Had you looked a little closer into the backgrounds of some of the candidates for election, then you might have done the community a service by providing an objective comparison.
Nor did I leave the count “abruptly”. I was in the room for several minutes after my result had been declared and then left to ensure that the result was published as soon as practical.
I have over the years had some respect for the independence of The Press but your editorial on Saturday with its reference to the Barbican suggests that some of your reporters still have their own political agendas. In respect of helping residents to understand options and the constraints on important policy issues, in recent years, you have failed.
You have also failed to analyse the voting trends . The Liberal Democrat vote across the City was broadly similar to 2007. What happened was that Labour voters turned out in larger numbers as evidenced by the higher overall turn out. That is fair enough and signals a healthy democracy.
People make their judgements based on a variety of influences.
We have no doubt that the national situation played its part, not least in allowing Labour to generate apparently unlimited amounts of money to fund their campaign.
Many of the claims in the Labour literature were bogus but received little media scrutiny. In effect, on a range of issues, Labour have succeeded in giving the impression that they might change, what they caricature, as existing policies (cuts, privatisation, reduced spend on offices etc) while reality will be that they have few alternatives available to them. Time will prove that to be true. Although there will be a few symbolic gestures early on in the course of the new administrations term of office, the major financial choices available to them are limited. To admit such in their literature would, of course, have been disingenuous.
I fear for the future of the City if the “Big City, Big Growth” option now becomes the blue-print for the future. That is what Labour threaten to do and most York people still have no idea about the consequences of such a policy, not least on the setting and appearance of the City.
I am confident that history will record that the last 8 years have been amongst the most successful in the development of our City.
We now have a much changed and more resilient economy while street level service standards are higher than for our competitors. Crime has reduced dramatically. The education system has been modernised and there has been huge investment in leisure; some of which will only become apparent gradually as first the Barbican, then the Hull Road Sports Village and finally the community stadium open their doors. The much vilified new council HQ will open in 2012 saving around £17 million in cost to taxpayers. Council housing has been modernised as has specialist social services accommodation. Reduced central government support has been offset by an efficiency programme which has largely preserved front line services and which is the envy of many other Councils.
Effectively the new administration gets off to a flyer.
I wish them well in moving the City forward. I hope that they enjoy the backing of the media when it is deserved. I hope also that their plans and polices are subject to explanation in an objective way – something that I feel we did not enjoy from you over the last few years.
I will now be taking a break from public life. I welcome the opportunity to spend time on other projects. To that degree I am grateful to the electorate for freeing me from the time constraints faced by every Councillor. I doubt very much whether some of the recently elected new Councillors have any idea of the commitment required to do a good job for their wards. I do hope that they will get up to speed quickly
Time will tell.

City of York Council elections Thursday 5th May 2011

Elections for the City of York Council take place on Thursday 5th May. Polling stations are open between 7:00am and 10:00pm.
If any resident would like a lift to the polls please telephone us on York (01904) 794111
There are 10 candidates competing for the 3 seats in the Westfield Ward.
I am joined by Andrew Waller and Mark Waudby as the 3 Liberal Democrat candidates in the poll.
Biographies
Steve Galloway lives in Foxwood and has been a local Councillor for 38 years. A former Lord Mayor of York, he was the Council Leader between 2003 and 2008. In Westfield he led the campaign to provide a roundabout at the Askham Lane ring road junction and backed the new Front Street “Explore” library.
Askham Lane resident Andrew Waller is the current Leader of the council. He was first elected to represent the Westfield Ward in 1994. Andrew championed the replacement of the Hob Moor and York High school buildings and was the architect of the 3 fold increase in recycling rates seen in the City in recent years.
Mark Waudby lives in St Stephens Road . He had 8 years experience on the York council before moving to Westfield. He recently led the fight to have the White Rose site redeveloped quickly and is a keen supporter of our new “Energise” sports and leisure centre.
Result last time (2007)
LibDem 1485
Lab 838
Con 423
Others 335
(Average vote per party)

Westfield Planning applications 3rd May 2011

As a new service for residents, I will be publishing the weekly planning applications for the Ward received by the Council. Further details are available on http://planning.york.gov.uk/PublicAccess/tdc/tdc_home.aspx
Westfield
Ref No: 11/00475/FUL
Location: 11 Rylatt Place York YO26 5DD
Proposal: Single storey extension to side and rear to form annexe
Applicant: Mr and Mrs Westwick
Contact Mr John Howlett
Consultation Expiry Date 24 May 2011
Case Officer: Elizabeth Potter Expected Decision Level DEL

Ref No: 11/00724/FUL
Location: 1 Tudor Road York YO24 3AY
Proposal: Two storey pitched roof side extension (resubmission)
Applicant: Mrs A Glavina
Consultation Expiry Date 24 May 2011
Case Officer: Elizabeth Potter Expected Decision Level DEL

Issues raised by York Councillors

In reponse to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, the Council has provided a list of the number of issues raised by Councillors over the last 4 years.
The numbers against my name are inflated by the fact that I take responsibility for emailing to Council officials most of the issues that residents raise on our survey forms and “grumble sheets”.
The figures only cover those issues which enter the system officially (emails and telephone calls to the central issue and complaint handing teams).
There may be others, for example where a Councillor talks direct to an official or raises an issue at a meeting, and which are not formally recorded.
Details of the source spreadsheets can be obtained from the Council by Emailing foi@york.gov.uk

Issues raised by York Councillors 2007 - 2011

Council elections on Thursday – Key LibDem policy plans

1. Reopening the Barbican Concert Hall on 10th May (with no ongoing subsidy from Council Taxpayers)
2. Providing new athletics, sports and swimming facilities at a Hull Road “sports village”.
3. Reducing the costs of Council office accommodation by £17 million
4. Providing salt bins/bags for use in icy conditions and getting the remaining potholes repaired
5. Improving the outer ring road and reducing traffic congestion by providing 3 more Park and Ride sites.
6. Pioneering a low emission transport system with more pedestrian areas.
7. Providing a Community Stadium in partnership with commercial developers (with no Council subsidy)
8. Further improving recycling rates and opening a “salvage” centre at Harewood Whin to promote the reuse of materials
9. Giving elderly people more choice in their care arrangements, building on the success of “Telecare” and the new homes programme
10. Continuing to provide good quality public services at the lowest “cost per resident” of any unitary Council in the country.

Composting offer

The Council has just launched a new home compost bin offer for 2011-12. The York and North Yorkshire Waste Partnership are subsidising 2 types of compost bin during 2011-12 for residents of York and North Yorkshire. The subsidised bins that are available are:
220 litre Compost Converter £10
330 litre Compost Converter £13
Plus £5.49 delivery per order
Multi buy offer – buy 1 get 1 half price
These prices are while funding lasts and limited to 2 units per household. The subsidised prices are only available to residents in York and North Yorkshire.
3 ways to order:
– Online at www.getcomposting.com, quoting reference YNY01L
– Call 0844 5714444, quoting reference YNY01L
– Post leaflet (available at 9SLP and Library Square receptions or by contacting YCC) to: FREEPOST RRSX-TXTE-RCCB, Evengreener, YNY Offer, Leeds, LS1 4BN
Closing date for offer: 31st March 2012
Residents can find out more about how to compost by contacting York Rotters on tel: 01904 412861 or email: rotters@stnicksfields.org.uk.