19% of Council Tax income will go on servicing interest and
Under current plans, the debts of the York Council are set to increase from £293 million to £384 million by 2023.
The high repayment requirement means that less will be available to spend on basic public services in the City.
That represents a burden of £539 for every York resident.
Although the figures are within the legal limit placed on Council
borrowing, several of the projects being funded have risks which could increase
The figures are included in a report
to a meeting taking place next week.
Separately, the Council is being recommended to find £2.85
million to fund the purchase of an unnamed City Centre property. This is being
described as a “Strategic Commercial Property Acquisition”.
While it is true to say that, in the long term, investments
in City Centre land and buildings by the Council has in the past proved to be of
positive value for taxpayers, the Councils recent
record on asset management has left much to be desired.
The Willow House former elderly persons home building has been empty for several years while the high profile property at 29 Castlegate is in a similar position.
The Councils executive Councillors stubbornly refuse to consider, in public, asset management issues of this sort.
North Yorkshire Police would like to make you aware of a national increase in organised criminal groups currently targeting empty properties in the UK to apply for loans, duping mortgage providers and causing further distress to members of the public.
Criminal networks are identifying empty properties using names on published obituaries and carrying out further research on the Land Registry. Once a suitable property has been discovered the criminal group then organise for fake documentation to be produced, registering on the electoral role and with utility companies. They meticulously work through the legal hurdles until the finances are released by the unsuspecting organisation. The rights to the property actually belong to a completely innocent party who have no idea the crime has taken place until a much later point.
PROTECTION / PREVENTION ADVICE:
There is an increased risk of fraud when:
• a property is empty or has been bought-to-let
• the owner is spending time abroad or is absent
• the owner is infirm or in a nursing or care home
• a relationship breaks down between the property owners/dwellers
• a property has no mortgage
Protect yourself against property fraud:
• Be very wary of mail solicitations claiming great returns, no matter how good they look. Check out the company first. For example, does it have a legitimate street address and landline number?
• If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
• Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage can quickly alert the Land Registry and speak to specially trained staff for practical guidance about what to do next by calling the Property Fraud Line on 0300 006 7030. The line is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
• If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk
The new owners of the Haymarket car park site have announced the name of the hotel which will be built there. Vastinct Hospitality has bought part of the site from Hiscox and will build a 120 bedroomed economy “Moxy” hotel there.
Hiscox new York HQ. Ready for occupation before the end of the year
No financial details of the deal have been revealed but it is bound to reignite the indignation felt by many taxpayers in 2012 when the Council sold off the site on the cheap. Then, in the depth of the recession, the Labour Council accepted an offer of a little over £2 million for the site – far below the current £5 million valuation.
Critically the Council failed to include a condition in the sale agreement which would have seen Council taxpayers benefit from any subsequent increase in the sites value. As well as the Haymarket car park (which produced an income of £300,000 a year for the Council) the site included the Peasholme hostel and adjacent ambulance station.
York police station empty and boarded up
Now existing hotels in the City face competition from a new arrival which may have benefited from slack Council accounting 3 years ago.
The new Council and its auditors should review the 2012 deal and ensure that no further errors are made.
There is a lesson for the public sector more generally here.
Some vacant sites are an eyesore. The old Fire station on Clifford Street and the adjacent police station need to be brought back into use quickly.
There is a boom in the residential market at present and City Centre sites are fetching high prices. While the adjacent magistrates court building is listed, this should not prevent the reuse of the rest of the site.
It is the optimum time to market empty City centre properties.
In respect of these two properties the public authorities concerned should get a move on.
Boyes have announced they are moving into Acomb, taking over the former Superdrug building which has been vacant for a number of years.
11-15 Front Street
Sue Hunter, who is Chair of the local trader’s group Acomb Alive! established to help local businesses work together, develop the area and support one another, added: “The position of the building close to both Morrison’s and the junctions of Green Lane and Front Street has long cast a blight on the good work we are all doing in the area, particularly the events staged by the smaller, independent traders.
“Having this shop open and doing business again will provide a boost for Acomb in terms of both confidence and footfall. We are all looking forward to working with Boyes and involving them in the activities we are developing for Acomb for the year ahead”.
Andrew Boyes, Director of the Company said: “We are delighted to be moving into Acomb and becoming part of the business community. We have known Acomb well for many years and have made a long-term investment in the building and the area. Boyes is here to stay and we are very much looking forward to becoming a key brand and offering excellent service to local people while attracting additional trade to the area.”
Boyes are planning to renovate their new store over the coming months and are expecting to open their new Acomb premises in Spring 2015.
A number of commercial properties, owned by the York Council, remain empty.
They include 1 Shipton Road (Ashbank), 17/21 Piccadilly, Clementhorpe Maltings (Lower Darnborough St), ,former Railway Canteen (Holgate Rd) and the Parkside Commercial Centre.
Some are being actively marketed but it seems that the Railway Canteen may simply be demolished. It was originally purchased, many years ago, for possible use as a community centre.
The Parkside Commercial Centre has also been empty for several years. Its sale was agreed in 2010 but little progress has been made since. Guildhall sources blame planning delays. Planning permission for a 3 storey office building was granted in July 2013.
Meanwhile York’s longest void Council house remains unoccupied. 102 Foxwood Lane has been empty since sewage problems were discovered. The Council blames Yorkshire Water for the delays in bringing the 2 bedroomed bungalow back into use.
It is something of a mystery why they haven’t taken legal action to have the drainage problems resolved.
This section of Foxwood Lane has a record of flooding issues. They are one of the reasons why residents have opposed building on Acomb Moor which is located further up the Lane.
A traffic sign and bin bags have been dumped outside 9 Bradley Drive.
9 Bradley Drive
The property has been empty for about 6 years. The Council was on the brink of gaining possession of the problem property – whose owner has absconded – in 2011 but the initiative was abandoned by the new Labour Council.
Two years later they did restart proceedings but little progress has been made and the building remains a target for vandals.