The traditional children’s Carousel has not been provided in the City centre St Nicholas Fair this year.
Despite assurances from the organisers “Make it York“ (MIY) – who banned the long standing Warringtons ride from St Sampson’s Square – that a ride would be provided on the “Eye of York”, no such alternative has emerged.
The QUANGO claimed that the Carousels space was needed for stalls shuffled along Parliament Street to accommodate an outdoor bar labeled a “TiPi”.
It appears that the organisers didn’t seriously pursue the plan to extend the Fair onto areas like Duncombe Place. This would have had the added advantage of reducing the congestion which can sometimes be evident on Parliament Street where space for shoppers is limited.
With the St. Nicholas Fair only a couple of days old (it runs until 23rd December) further concerns are emerging about the management of the event (which we understand has been sub-contracted by MIY)
- Yesterday road closures planned for Church Street and St Sampson’s Place had not been signposted.
- As expected evening ban on traffic in Davygate – where several food outlets are located – was not being enforced.
- Reports are also emerging of a disturbance in the “TiPi” bringing into further doubt the wisdom of putting more alcohol on the city’s streets.
There will be some serious questions to answer about where the money raised by rents from stalls (understood to range from £4000 to £20,000 for the duration of the Fair) will actually end up.
It seems unlikely that the vapid oversight arrangements that the York Council – which wholly owns the MIY organisation – has introduced will successfully lift the veil of secrecy which seems to permanently surround the activities of this organisation.
The Council’s Scrutiny management committee decided yesterday to ignore the concerns of residents who had signed petitions criticising the “Make it York” organisation.
They had been told by officials in a report that Make it York made decisions on “commercial” grounds; conveniently forgetting that the organisation is wholly owned by the Council itself. The matter has apparently been referred to another Leisure scrutiny committee for consideration.
TiPi bars being erected on Parliament Street
The committee was told by MIY that there was no room on Parliament Street for a children’s attraction and claimed that this was because of pressure for “stall space”.
They conveniently forgot to mention that two “TiPi’s” are currently being erected on Parliament Street.
They will serve alcoholic refreshments.
It has also been confirmed that the supposedly independent “Make it York” shareholders group also failed, at the meeting that they held on 5th October, to consider either of the Quangos major PR blunders. MIY angered residents by deciding – without consultation – to remove the fountain from Parliament Street before then unilaterally deciding to ban the traditional Christmas carousel from its normal Parliament Street/St. Sampson’s Square locations.
The draft minutes of the meeting confirm that the concerns weren’t even discussed.
The “Make it York” shareholders committee has finally published the agenda for its meeting on Monday.
That is only two working days before the meeting is due to start.
It gives residents who want to address the meeting only 24 hours to register to speak.
Supporters of retaining the Christmas carousel ride in Parliament Street were hoping to make their case to the panel of 5 Councillors although the short notice may deter them (they will be making representation to the full council meeting later in the week anyway)
There are only two items on the agenda.
Performance out-turn April to September 2015 click to enlarge
Financial figures show income £82,000 below budget in the period up to July.
Expenditure is lower so the company was in balance at that early stage of the year. The out turn disguises a significant shortfall in Shambles market rent payments.
The second item relates to performance against target.
The Council continues to be sharply critcised for failing to set KPIs for the events programme and the Shambles Market activities that MIY now supervises.
In any event, most of the first quarter indicators are blank. Even the traditional tourism monitors are largely missing.
So will the committee see through the prevarication and challenge the arrogant way that this organisation has gone about its business since April?
We will wait and see.
York Christmas Carousel
Petitions containing over 2000 signatures supporting the retention of the Christmas children’s carousel ride in the Parliament Street area will be presented to the next York Council meeting on 8th October.
The “on line” version of the petition has now closed.
Separately Make it York have announced details of the public bar which will replace the children’s attraction.
The issues relating to Make it York’s attitude to public consultation are also likely to be discussed at a “Shareholders” meeting taking place on 5th October.
This was the meeting which was supposed to have been held in public but for which the Council has so far failed to publish an agenda.
York Christmas Carousel
A petition, asking for York’s traditional Christmas Carousel ride to be retained in St Sampsons Square, has gained the support of over 2000 people.
It will be formally handed over to the York Council on Friday at 2:00pm (West Offices).
The new “Make it York” (MIT) organisation has been criticised for trying to force the ride to move onto an alternative – less accessible – site at the Eye of York.
It emerged today that senior managers at MIY have not been prepared to enter into discussions with the ride operator Warringtons over the alternative location.
It is understood that a “take it or leave” option was put forward in August but that there has been no subsequent negotiation
An electronic version of the petition can still be signed. Click here to access it.
NB A response to a Freedom Of Information probe into the objectives set for the – wholly Council owned – “Make it York” organisation is expected to be published later this week.
The fate of the fountain on Parliament Street will be decided by the York Council’s Executive when it meets on 24th September.
Although the new Executive now includes a representative from both the Labour and Green groups, it is anticipated that a more balanced all party meeting of a “scrutiny committee” will also consider the same issue a week earlier.
The future of the fountain was brought into question when the Quango “Make it York” announced that it would be demolished.
The statement was widely criticised as there had been no prior consultation with residents or most Councillors.
Another petition is being collected concerning the nearby site where children’s rides are traditionally located at Christmas. It is expected that it will attract sufficient signatures to force the Council to publicly debate the issue and consider reinstating the Carousel at its traditional location.
A petition, in support of retaining children’s rides in St Sampson’s Square at Christmas, has attracted 500 signatures.
This petition will be available to sign for another week.
The paper based petition, which can be signed at the Carousel, supplements the Epetition which can be found on the Councils web site, and which will be available for another 3 weeks.
It is hoped it will persuade the Council and “Make It York” to change their plans to allocate the children’s site to another – alcohol based – “festive attraction”.
Anyone wishing to sign a petition asking the York Council and “Make it York” to ensure that traditional children’s Christmas rides remain available in the Parliament Street area should click here
Members of the public ride a carousel adjacent to the ‘St Nicholas Fair’ Christmas market in the city centre of York, Northern England on December 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
The petition asks the York Council and MIY to:
Take action to ensure that any major changes initiated by “Make it York” or other Quangos operating in the City are subject to consultation with residents. In particular we petition that the traditional children’s rides, provided during the period leading up to Christmas, be retained on either Parliament Street or St. Sampson’s Square, unless an alternative location, which is both acceptable to the operators and equally accessible for users, can be found.
“Make it York”, a company wholly owned by the Council but run by an independent Board of Directors, has announced that the children’s rides traditionally provided during the St. Nicholas Fair period leading up to Christmas, will not be allocated a pitch in the Parliament Street area this year.
This ban includes the iconic Carousel ride.
The space may be used to accommodate a licensed bar.
No consultation with residents or most Councillors has taken place, no effective public scrutiny process for “Make it York” decisions has been introduced nor have any performance measures – for the public events that it may organise – been published.
York Council taxpayers need to be involved in the decision making processes for organisations that they help to fund including “Make it York”, the “York Museums Trust” & the York Libraries and Archives Mutual Company.
The petition should also be available on the Council’s web site shortly