Some of the affairs of York’s taxpayer funded but independently managed organisation are to be subject to public review next week. The Councils first comprehensive “Shareholder” committee meeting is to look at the results being obtained by several organisations.
- Make it York (The tourism and marketing body)
- Veritau Ltd – An audit body
- City of York Trading – A recruitment and temporary staff agency
- Yorwaste/SJB Recycling (Process local waste and refuse)
In the past these bodies have been subject to intermittent “light” scrutiny with many background details contained in “confidential” annexes. Several private annexes are still being reported to next Tuesday’s meeting but fewer than in the past
The meeting is being chaired by Cllr Nigel Ayre who was also responsible for bringing into the public domain reports on the Councils major contracts letting processes.
Make it York (MIY) plans to appoint a new post of “Head of Commercial and Revenue Generation” at a basic salary of £60,000 a year. Performance bonuses could bring the remuneration up to £80.000 pa. MIY failed to recruit to the post at a lower salary earlier in the year. The post has the objective of increasing MIY’s revenues over time such that the company can, in the first instance, become self-funding (relieving the council of its ongoing financial contribution to the business) and, beyond that, increasing the sums available to reinvest in the city.
It is unclear how potential conflicts between commercial targets and York’s traditional values will be reconciled. There have been too many disputes between local traders, visitors and residents in the past few years.
Separately MIY reports an expected £248,063 loss in the year. This is 6304 above budget expectations. Increased overheads are blamed together with poor merchandise sales in the tourist centre. The organisations new Chair Greg Dyke is due to take over the role in January.
The report touches on the Christmas Market and ongoing difficulties with access for traders (see below).
Veritau Ltd, a company jointly owned by North Yorkshire County Council and the City of York Council, wants to expand. It hopes in future to provide audit services for several additional Council and other public bodies.
City of York Trading Ltd (trading principally as WorkwithYork and WorkwithSchools) was formed in 2011 with the intention of supplying temporary staff to CYC, to schools (in and around the York area) and to other outside organisations. Through City of York Trading Ltd, the reductions in cost to CYC and the return of the profit achieved are designed to assist CYC’s financial position. If CYC had to source staff in the open market, the cost would be substantially higher than current rates paid to the Company.
Unfortunately the reports from this organisation continue to be largely opaque. The shareholder committee is being asked to approve a business plan which is enclosed in a confidential annex. Similarly, the committee is being asked to endorse the appointment of a n additional company director but without the name of the candidate being revealed.
The net cost/return to the Council of this body is not revealed.
Yorwaste/SJB Recycling. The York Council owns 23% of this company. Yorwaste operates Waste Transfer Stations (WTS), Materials Recycling Facilities (MRF), Green Waste Composting, and HWRCs for both NYCC and CYC. It also manages the closed landfill aftercare obligations at several sites including Harewood Landfill (which closed to general waste in March of this year). SJB currently operates three sites (based at Yorkshire Water waste plants) providing green waste composting services to local authorities.
The company is forecasting a loss of over £300,000 on the year. The company blames the impact of a facility closure (Seamer); external commodity prices; and two waste fires for the downturn in its fortunes.
SJB is forecasting a reduced level of profit (£159,000). With 2 of its three operational sites closing it is heavily dependent on achieving a new contract before the end of the year.