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Lowfields Care “village” plan announced

The proposal to provide a new care village aimed at providing accommodation for older residents on the former Lowfields School site has taken a step forward. The Council will decide on 19th July whether to consult residents on a range of options for providing care facilities for the growing numbers of older people in the City.
There are currently 33,000 people over the age of 65 and this is expected to grow to 37,000 by 2015 and 40,100 by 2020.
Most older people want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and the “Telecare” system – pioneered by the Liberal Democrat Council in 2006 – has had a major impact. But there are still 286 beds in Council run Elderly Person’s Homes in York. Of these 57 – including those at Westfield’s Windsor House facility – cater specifically for dementia suffers.
It is estimated that CYC will need 180 beds providing a mixture of dementia, high dependency, and nursing care in the future.
The past 10 years has seen a change in the level of need of people admitted to residential care. As people live longer and stay at home longer those admitted to residential care are often more physically frail. Recent years have also seen a significant increase in the number of people in residential care suffering from dementia which ranges from mild signs of confusion to more acute forms where they are very confused and often demonstrate challenging behaviour. The average age of people entering residential care in York is now 86 years old and the average stay for an older person in CYC homes is 18 months.
Two 45-bedroom homes are proposed as part of the new “care village” on the site of the former Lowfield School, which could also include the construction of 21 new two-bedroom, independent living bungalows. Two similar but smaller facilities are planned for Fulford and Huntington at a total capital cost of around £14 million.
We don’t believe that Council taxpayers will be able to fund this investment so we expect that a private sector partnership is the most likely way of taking the project forward.
We have always supported the use of the Lowfields site for the construction of an older person’s village. It was the preferred option of local people in our 2010 residents survey. The location has the major advantage of being close to key services in the Front Street area (library, Post Office, doctors surgeries etc.) while also being close to the number 4 ftr public transport route. Similar schemes like Hartrigg Oaks on the other side of the City have been very successful.
NB. The review undertaken by the Council did not look at sheltered accommodation like Gale Farm Court and Aintree House which are not affected by the proposals.

Westfield Focus July published

The July edition of the Westfield Focus newsletter has been published. It is available, in PDF format, to Liberal Democrat supporters by Email. To take advantage of this offer please Email
If you can help with delivery please also contact the same address.

Union Terrace U turn

It looks like the Labour Council are going to back off from their plan to sell the Union Terrace car park. Pressure from residents and traders against the sell off has grown since the Council Leader made a public announcement that he backed the sale to St Johns University.
With the Councils local plan (the LDF) for the City Centre not yet agreed, any sale would have been premature.
It is possible that a scheme which retains car and coach parking on the site, while also providing additional floorspace for the University expansion, may now be evaluated.

St Johns from Union Terrace car park

New youth cafe in Little Stonegate

A planning application has been submitted to change the use of 3 Little Stonegate into a youth cafe with associated offices, meeting and training spaces. The building until recently formed part of Borders book shop.
The building was originally a Methodist Chapel, built in 1851. It was altered and converted into a printing works in 1901. The building is grade 2 listed. In 2000 the building was incorporated into 1-5 Davygate. The building was last used for retail, with an ancillary cafe. Planning permission is being sought to change the use of the building to a youth cafe/training centre and general facility for young persons; similar to a youth club. The use would retain the cafe facilities on the upper level and include educational activities such as Duke of Edinburgh Award, homework clubs, interest groups and performance space. It is proposed to open between 08:00 and 22:00.
The planning reference is 11/00399/FUL and the application will be determined by the planning committee on 14th July.


Unfortunately we seem to be seeing more graffiti in the area. We’ve reported a couple of instances in the Kingsway area using the Councils new “report it” on line system.
We’ll see how long it takes to get it cleared up.

Kingsway West garages

Security patrols withdrawn

Kingsway West all weather football pitch

The Council have withdrawn the “community ranger” security patrols which have helped to reduced crime levels in the Westfield ward over recent years. Already reports of vandalism, at playgrounds which are no longer secured at night, are on the increase.
The Council decision came when the company, which held the contract for the patrols, went into administration earlier in the year. Although steps should have been taken to re-let the contract, this action was apparently delayed leaving a big gap in the security arrangements for Westfield. With the school holidays imminent – often a difficult period with instances of vandalism increasing – it seems that the playgrounds will be left unprotected.
Community Ranger patrols regularly top the poll when residents are asked how they would like to spend the £50,000 that Ward committee has available for improvements in the Westfield area.
We are very disappointed with the attitude of the new Council towards security. They need get on top of the problem quickly.

York gets £4.7 million extra for Transport

I was delighted to see today that York’s bid to the Sustainable Transport Fund, which was submitted during the final days of the Council’s last LibDem adminstration, has been approved.
Government Minister Norman Baker – who was lobbied by local LibDems when he visited to the City earlier in the year – has authorised a £4.7 million grant to the City.
The money will be invested in reducing carbon emissions, stimulating economic growth through
influencing travel behaviour and encouraging modal shift.
Details are available on the DfT web site at

Well fancy that!

5th May 2011—The UNISON local government Union donates £5000 to pay for Labours local election campaign.
30th June 2011—York’s new Labour Council agrees to spend an extra £38,000 a year on the salaries of Union organisers (funded by taxpayers!)

Salvage centre needed now

With the Beckfield Lane recycling centre full to bursting, the Council needs to get on quickly with providing a replacement facility.
A site at Harewood Whin has been identified for a “Salvage and re-use” centre which will aim to reduce the amount of material going into the waste stream. This in turns reduces the amount of landfill tax which the local authority has to pay creating a virtuous circle.
Everyone benefits as reuse of goods means that we avoid the use of energy in a re-manufacture process.
The process would complement schemes like “freecycle” which aims to link those with surplus items to potential users via the internet.
The investment in the new facility – which would also incorporate recycling facilities similar to those found at Hazel Court – would be partly paid for by selling the existing site on Beckfield Lane which is in the middle of a residential area.

St Stephens Square parking plans

It is disappointing to see that work on providing additional off street parking spaces on St Stephens Square has not yet commenced.
The scheme which will see 8 spaces provided for the use of residents from the nearby flats, was due to have been completed in the spring. However it ran into planning problems
An amended design sought to address concerns about drainage by using a permeable mesh surface which allows water to drain through. An example of the system can be found outside the flats on Thanet Road.
If the scheme doesn’t get the go ahead at the next planning committee meeting scheduled for the 14th July, we start to think that someone is trying to torpedo the project!