The government has launched a welcome initiative this week aimed at encouraging more active lifestyles. There has been a lot of support for cycling as a way of keeping fit and losing weight. That is very welcome and we hope that it soon translates into a Council initiative aimed at improving maintenance standards on off road cycle paths, many of which are in poor condition in York.
Less attention has been paid to leisure walking – an option open to virtually everyone.
There has been renewed interest in the use of local Public Rights of Way (PROW) as residents sought to follow daily – social distance – exercising guidelines. The route across Acomb Moor to Acomb Wood became more popular. A local bulletin board has seen several people criticise the farmer who blocked off all entrances to the moor before ploughing it.
While the owner is entitled to cultivate his land, he should not have blocked the Foxwood Lane access at least while the current PROW application is being actively considered. We have asked the public rights of way officer to intervene.
More needs to be done to enhance and improve access to the natural environment at least on the west of the City.
The Councils own annual survey of opinion revealed that 44% of panellists thought that the Council was not doing well at improving green spaces.
59% thought that the Council wasn’t doing well at reducing air pollution.
The Council planted 515 trees last year. It had previously claimed that it would plant “50,000 trees by 2023”. It had also promised to expand the City’s strays and introduce more wildflower meadows in an attempt to encourage pollinators.
We understand that a report will be considered by the Council in August which will set out proposals to acquire land which will enable the creation of a “large new area of woodland in close proximity to the city to provide green amenity space for residents and plant trees that will contribute to the council’s commitment to become net carbon neutral by 2030”.
There has to be balance. The country does need to be more self sufficient in food production, so the retention of good quality agricultural land is also important.
However, the creation of a country park on land near Askham Lane would be a welcome step forward. It has been a vision for several years. It would allow hedgerows to be re-established and PROWs to be maintained in good condition.
It would also provide some compensation for the sports and leisure land lost through recent developments in the area.
It only now remains to be seen whether Councillors have the drive and determination to deliver on their promises.