WiFi for York community stadium…..but at a high cost

Those who attend stadium events on a regular basis will know that getting a reliable phone signal can be difficult. Even 4G is often not always available particularly in steel framed buildings. A free WiFi signal can be a boon for those seeking the half time scores from elsewhere or seeking to email an update home on how well the concert is going.

 Next week the Council is being asked to fund the provision of free WiFi access at the new stadium as well as at Clifford’s Tower and Coppergate.

The cost will be over £308,000, with £250,000 of this down to the Community Stadium network.

WiFi is currently available at local Community Hubs, Children Centres, Explore (Library) Centres and Libraries, Residential Care homes, Mansion House, Park and Ride Terminuses, West offices, Hazel Court, Registry Office and Crematorium.

Some schools also have the service but it is not universal.

There will be some scepticism about the budget priority for this programme. No usage figures for the existing free network are provided in the officer report.

There are other IT related services in the City which are arguably more urgently needed including the extension of the Councils “on line” issue reporting system and the reintroduction of “on line” and “on street” car park space availability information.

The Council even claims that it doesn’t have the technology to do routine things like the provision of a real time list of vacant garages on its web site.

These may all seem rather more urgent than allowing a tourist to browse the web from the top of Clifford’s Tower.

There will also be an ongoing debate about whether the costs of installing this facility should be a charge on users rather than taxpayers more generally?

York Knights Rugby say they will open the new Community Stadium with a fixture on 20th July

The Knights official home opener in the brand new Community Stadium in Huntington is set to take place on 20th July 2019.

They will welcome close rivals Bradford Bulls.

It will be a Saturday evening kick off at 6:00 pm

There is still a lot of work to be done at the stadium and sometimes commissioning takes longer than expected (ask any Spurs fan)

York City will no doubt be hoping to stage a landmark fixture in early July against a “big name” opponent.

National League football fixtures don’t commence until August.

Community Stadium Contracts signed

The York Council has announced today that the design, build, maintain and manage contract for York’s Community Stadium has finally been signed.

The announcement comes after another hitch delayed the contract completion from the promised October deadline.

The news marks a major milestone in the Community Stadium project and means that Greenwich Leisure Ltd will now formally take possession of the Monks Cross site and “diggers will be on site before Christmas”. In preparation for full construction works, site security and compounds will arrive on site within the next few weeks.

Greenwich Leisure Ltd will also take over the operation of Energise Leisure Centre and Yearsley Swimming Pool, as part of the wider new stadium and leisure contract, from 1 December 2017.

This news comes after last month, it was announced that Greenwich Leisure Ltd had appointed Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd as the new building contractor.

Once complete the new Community Stadium Leisure Complex will comprise of an 8,000 all-seat community sports stadium to host professional football and rugby league games. There will also be new leisure facilities incorporating a swimming pool, gym, dance studio, indoor and outdoor climbing facilities and a sports hall with spectator seating.

A commercial development on the stadium site will also feature a cinema complex, including an IMAX screen, five restaurants and up to three retail units. NHS outpatient services will be offered on site from a community hub and there will be a new Explore library and a York Against Cancer retail unit.

The new stadium, leisure facilities and the community hub will all open in 2019 along with the new cinema and commercial units.

The Community Stadium has had a chequed career since the Council, agreed to make land available for the project in 2010. Funding for the stadium was agreed then as part of a section 106 agreement with the developers of the adjacent Vanguard site.

Everything was on schedule for a 2014 opening when planning permission was granted in 2012 but the then Council opted for a much bigger project including the management of other leisure buildings in the city together with a new swimming pool and as substantial amount of commercial space.

That contract was held up by procurement regulations and at one point it seemed that the complex project would collapse.

Cost forecast 2014

The Council has however persisted with the plans but the bill for the scheme is now way above the initial estimates of £14 million (which would have been covered by the section 106 agreement funding)

.The following statement has been issued by the Councils Liberal Democrat Group  (more…)

Another York community stadium “work starting” announcement

Déjà vu seeks stadium naming rights!

Land sale value falling

As we predicted earlier in the year, the new community stadium at Monks Cross will not be ready for occupation by the rugby and football Clubs until the middle of 2019.

As recently as April, the Council was still saying the work would be completed in late 2018.

Now it seems that the Council will – at its own risk- authorise building work to start before the final financial contracts have been signed. A report says that this will put £500,000 potentially at risk.

The report also says that a £2.7 million reduction in build costs will be achieved by a cross subsidy from commercial building works. They report that this means that build costs will be £34 million although any saving will be added to the “contingency” reserve, which is built into the budget.

So probably no saving for taxpayers.

The figures quoted in the report do not mention the millions already spent on administration. Other elements of the project bring the total cost to £42 million.

It fails to highlight the risks being taken on by the Council as the principal leaseholder of the southern commercial block.

The report also says the Council will get a lower price (£10.76m) when it sells land for the southern block and the lease on the east stand restaurants. This is £2.6 million less than forecast in March 2016.

The Council have announced that GLL will continue to run the Yearsley swimming pool at least until 2024. The Yearsley subsidy from taxpayers is  £340,000 pa.

The Monks Cross plans still incorporate an additional new – largely inessential – swimming pool.

The Council says that it will not enter a deal with the existing York Libraries Trust for use of the new on-site library. They rather ominously say this is because the intend to re-tender for a new library service operator in 2018.

The proposed stadium name sponsor has walked away from the deal.

We hope that something finally comes out of the project. The present Council finishes its term of office in May 2019 only weeks before the latest stadium opening date. We hope that they will have something to celebrate.

Salford City stadium almost finished in 18 months

However, they may reflect that, since funding for a stadium was first identified in 2009, ten years will have passed during which delay after delay has occurred.

The deal currently on the table will see the Councils leisure centres like Energise and Yearsley transferred over to the management of GLL, with all that may entail for staff and charges.

It is salutary to note that the Salford football club, who will ply their trade in the 6th tier of English football with York City this season, have managed to plan and build a tidy stadium in only 18 months. It is only slightly smaller than the déjà vu stadium in York but has been developed at only a fraction of the York cost.

Latest and previous timetable

York Council investment programme slips

A Council report shows an out-turn of £35.751m on the Council capital investment budget compared to an approved budget of £52.428, an overall variation of £16.677m.

Community stadium start slips

The biggest slippage (£3.5 million) was on the York Central project although there were also delays in other areas including school maintenance, housing construction, the Glen Lodge extension, waste disposal, IT development and upgrades to buses.

The report shows that expenditure on the Community Stadium has also slipped again with the bulk of the work now expected in 2018/19. In total, the Council will spend £36 million on this project although this figure does not include the substantial sums spent to date or the (privately funded) commercial elements of the project.

The report goes on to say;

Mansion House cost up by £150,000

  • that the Mansion House restoration scheme has an outturn position of £1.031m in 2016/17, requiring re-profiling of £515k of funds from 2017/18 into 2016/17. The work is now expected to be completed in August 2017.  The report goes on to say that “as the works contract has progressed a number of areas of additional work have been identified as necessary to safeguard the future of the Mansion House, these essential restoration works will cost an additional £150”.
  • the Tenants Choice programme saw 120 properties have their kitchens, bathrooms and wiring updated through the year. This is significantly lower than the 220 properties that were planned. This is due to problems with tenants refusing works, delays due to damp problems and delays with kitchen deliveries. The scheme under spent by £416k in 2016/17
  • the proposed developments at Newbury Avenue and Chaloners Road have also been delayed. The development now proposed is for 5-6 bungalows and “will be submitted for planning approval in July”. The development of homes at Chaloners Road was postponed when the developer withdrew from the contract. A revised scheme will be submitted for planning approval in late summer 2017
A summary of the Councils £1/4 billion investment plans can be found below

Community Stadium – Cinema car parking deal

The York Council has agreed that customers of the proposed cinema at the Community Stadium will be able to use the park and ride car park “on an evening, out of hours of normal operation”. In a behind closed doors decision session officials agreed a contract to “enter into such an agreement “if and when the site and cinema are complete and in full operation”

Currently park and ride services operate to Monks Cross until 9:15pm each week day evening. The access gates are locked at 9:45pm to prevent overnight parking.

The expectation had been that bus services would continue until later in the evening when football matches were being held at the new stadium.

No details of the financial arrangements for any contract have been released.

The Community Stadium project – which is running 4 years behind schedule –  will next be discussed by the Council’s Executive on 13th July.

York Community Stadium – contractor pulls out

Reports are circulating this morning that the building contractor for the York Community Stadium has withdrawn from the project.

June 2012 plans

June 2012 plans

ISG was appointed nearly 2 years ago as part of a “design, build, operate & maintain” team overseen by Greenwich Leisure.

A Council report on the £41 million Community Stadium project was published on Friday but makes no reference to ISG’s position. The report – prepared by Council officials – was criticised for not providing an update on the projects financial and business plan.

The much delayed  facility – originally scheduled to open in 2012 – is currently subject to a Judicial Review. The review is expected to be completed in January.

The delays may be taking their toll on the two principal occupants of the Stadium. The Knights Rugby Club was taken over by a new owner last week while York City Football Club currently lie bottom of the National League and seemingly heading for relegation and matches against the likes of Harrogate Town.

A deal was concluded in 2010 which saw a budget of £16 million secured by means of a Section 106 agreement with the developer of a nearby shopping centre.

Now it looks like taxpayers will also face a £12 million bill.

While most of the blame for the failures rest with the then Labour run administration, which drew up the unnecessarily complex contract in 2012, it is a crying shame that the current coalition run Council failed to get a grip on the project when it took control of local affairs in May 2015.

The Council is now caught between a rock and a hard place.

Community Stadium

Community Stadium Nov 2014York Knights Rugby League Club is to get a £45,000 subsidy from the Council next year. The payment will allow them to continue playing their games at Bootham Crescent.  The recommendation is being made to a Council meeting next week and follows reports that the rugby club has been taken over by new owners.

It appears that the builders of the new Community Stadium may be unable – because of the delays caused by a Judicial Review of the plans – to sustain the tenders that they originally submitted.

Officials warn that the cost of the project could, therefore, increase.

Although the new stadium could be open in the summer of 2018, if the Judicial Review is successful then a new planning application would be needed.

This could add between 6 months and 12 months to the timetable.timetable-dec-2016

Doubts continue over the future of the Yearsley swimming pool which – in the event of the new sports centre at Monks Cross getting the go ahead – could find itself in an increasingly competitive environment.

A report is expect early next year following discussions between the Council, Nestle and the Yearsley Pool Action Group.  Many residents would prefer to retain the Yearsley facility while jettisoning the expensive new pool at Monks Cross, which is inessential and adds substantially to the Community Stadium project costs.

The Council claims in the report that agreement has now been reached on the use of some facilities at the Community Stadium by the NHS, York Against Cancer and York Libraries,

The report pointedly does not provide an revised financial appraisal of the project or an updated business plan.

York Community Stadium – another twist

York stadium-AerialThere will be a Judicial Review into the Council’s decision to grant planning permission for significant changes to the Community Stadium complex at Huntington.

The application for the Review was made by a cinema group who claimed that the planning process had not been fully implemented when revised plans were approved in June

The decision to hold a Review will add at least 6 months to the development timetable. If the Courts find that the Council did not follow proper processes in the lead up to the June meeting, then the planning application will have to be considered again. While there is no reason to suppose that the final decision would be any different, the complexities of the project mean that further legal challenges could not be ruled out.

Indeed the project may become mired in the Courts for years as appeals are considered.

The present stadium design links it to the other commercial and leisure uses so it is not possible to simply get on with the stadium build in isolation.

By now the Council should have got the message that it has overextended itself and a much simpler stadium needs to be substituted. There is still S106 funding available to provide a modest but adequate football/rugby ground.

Any “Plan B” might mean that some features of the overall project – such as the new swimming pool – would have to be jettisoned.

But at least tangible progress would be possible.  In the meantime both the Rugby and Football clubs are suffering as a result of the off field indecision

More concern over Community Stadium project

The proposed operator of the Council’s indoor sports facilities is under fire in some parts of the Country over safety standards.
PE extract 2nd Sept 2016

Private Eye magazine 2nd Sept 2016

According to Private Eye magazine (right) Greenwich Leisure has been slow to respond to complaints of tainted water in one of its pools in Swindon.

Greenwich Leisure is a not for profit “community interest company” which ran the Waterworld leisure centre on behalf of the council before it was demolished as part of a larger project to build a new community stadium.

Use of Waterworld declined rapidly and the, then Labour led, authority made additional subsidy payments to the operator between April and November 2014 to keep the pool open.

The payments were later subject to an auditor’s report.

Greenwich Leisure were appointed as the preferred contractor not only for the Stadium and associated swimming pool and sports centre but also the Yearsley pool and Energise sports centre on the other side of the City.

We reported in August 2014 that increasing costs were threatening the future of the Community Stadium complex. Things have deteriorated further since then with planning permission for additional commercial development now subject to a Judicial Review.

It has been clear for several years that the increasing size and complexity of the project has jeopardised not only the interests of taxpayers but has even brought into question whether some sports facilities in the City may also now face closure.

Recently the Council agreed to subsidise the use of Bootham Crescent by the Rugby Club until the new stadium has been completed. It is unclear how much this will cost taxpayers.

The York Council has yet to comment on the reports about swimming pool safety.