Landmark report reveals active lives of York’s children.

New research published by Sport England yesterday, carried out independently by Ipsos MORI, reveals the nation-wide challenge to help children lead more active lives.

Sport England report

In the face of this, the City of York is reported to have higher than average levels of children engaging in sports and physical activity on a daily basis.

The largest ever survey of its kind, Active Lives Children and Young People, has provided comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in physical activity both in and out of school. It shows that around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, doing an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day. However, just over 2.3 million children and young people (32.9%) are less active which means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

The report is based on responses from over 130,000 children aged 5-16 in England during the academic year 2017 to 2018. It also reveals that there are significant inequalities based on family income, showing that children from the most affluent families are more active than those in the least affluent families.

The report was released on the same day as the York Council decided to demolish the only, free access, all weather games area in west York. A Sport England request for the facility to be replaced was ignored by planning Councillors

For York, the report shows encouraging results, with the city having a higher percentage of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity per day, and lower than average percentages of children falling into the ‘less active’ category (see below).

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive member for adult social care and health said, “It’s encouraging to see the high percentages of children in York taking up the opportunity to live active lives and benefit their physical health early in life. We still want to see these figures continue to rise as we ensure children of all backgrounds can access opportunities to make healthy life choices and get active.

“Since that academic year we have launched our #MoveMoreYork campaign, encouraging everyone across the city, all ages and abilities, to move more in their everyday life and make healthy choices which can benefit them for the rest of their life.”

MUGA mugged – another blow for leisure provision in the Westfield area

Children’s ball games facility demolished

Despite objections from Sport England, Councillors approved the demolition of the Kingsway MUGA last night. No replacement all weather games area is planned

According to the Council’s own figures the Westfield area has the largest deficiency in sports and active leisure facilities in the City.

It also has the largest problem with child obesity 

The committee failed to include the conditions requested by Sport England which would have seen an alternative games area provided elsewhere before the existing facility was demolished.

Council officials claimed that the MUGA was derelict and disused. In fact, only minor repairs – which have been outstanding for over 12 months – would be required to bring the facility back into use.

Additional conditions requested by LibDem Councillors were voted down.

Correspondence between the Council and Sport England – and verbal claims by an official last night – suggest that planning committee members were misled. This could lead to a formal complaint about the way the MUGA issue has been handled.

The Council has failed to include the most recent correspondence on the issue on the “planning on line” web site.

This is the second time that the Council has misled Sport England about planning issues.

Earlier in the year a report on the provision of new football pitches on Tadcaster Road claimed that they would be used by Woodthorpe Wanderers football club.

They were later forced to admit that Woodthorpe Wanderers had folded 6 months previously.

Multi User Games Area – late development

Sport England have sent a late representation to the Councils’ planning committee reaffirming their views on the future of the MUGA on Kingsway West.

They say that they HAVE NOT agreed to it being demolished.

Council officials, in a report to the committee,  had given the impression that a holding objection had been withdrawn.

 

Now Sport England have unequivocally said that, if the existing MUGA is demolished, then a replacement facility must be provided nearby.

Such a facility must be available before the existing MUGA is demolished  and must be available for public use.

The planning committee is meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:30pm

 

Work begins on Lincoln Court double glazing

Lincoln Court

Work has started on modernising the apartments in Lincoln Court. New windows are being fitted in advance of the expected demolition of the adjacent Windsor House building.

What happens next is dependent on decisions being taken by the Councils planning committee on Thursday (West Offices, 4:30pm).

The planning committee will be visiting the area tomorrow (Wednesday) morning shortly after 10:00am.

Future of all weather ball games area – more confusion

The area under the adjacent trees has been tidied. The MUGA can now be viewed form Lincoln Court following a request from residents there to have boundary hedges cut back.

Correspondence has emerged which casts further doubt on the Council plans for the Kingsway Multi User Games Area (MUGA).

It appears that in October Sport England did clearly object to the removal of the facility.

It followed an extraordinary exchange of Emails in September in which the Council made several bogus claims about the area not having been used for “7 years”.

The Council goes on to say

“As part of the development outlined within this planning application the MUGA will not exist in its current form however there will be alternative provision of physical activity equipment at a suitable location within the Ward”.

No mention is made of the type and location of this “alternative provision” in the planning officers report to the committee on Thursday.

Residents will want to know more before any decisions are taken.

Council Email in September

Sport England response in October

Residents sceptical about Council planning applications.

Concerns ignored in committee report as play, congestion and parking fears rise

Kingsway area residents have expressed concerns that their views have been ignored in reports being presented to a planning committee meeting on Thursday. The reports consider plans for new developments in the area on Council owned land.

Newbury Avenue

The lack of alternative car parking provision was a major issue in the Newbury Avenue area when planning permission to demolish 28 garages was granted last May. The planning committee specifically required that 4 alternative spaces be constructed before demolition works started. This would have involved moving a telecoms cabinet which would have taken about 8 weeks to complete. 24 weeks later it turns out that the Council have only just asked the telecoms companies to act. Rather disingenuously the Council states that, as the garages are now all empty, demolishing them will not add to the parking problems in the area. They don’t admit that, despite a long waiting list of people wanting to rent them,  the Council stopped new lettings in 2012. It was this action that has contributed to the parking problems which are already apparent in the area.

Hob Moor School playing field

It has been known for some time that the Council intended to expand by building on the school playing field which lies to the rear of Windsor House and Lincoln Court. It came as something of surprise to many residents that this included the demolition of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) Early in the consultation process the Council said that any sports or play facilities that were affected would be provided elsewhere on the site.

This is now under question.

Children’s ball games facility threatened

The proposal at Hob Moor school is for  “a playing pitch on presently unused land to the east of the school together with an area of informal “Forest School” activities including a wetland, timber walkway and a fabric covered outdoor teaching space”.

The new location, “ comprises an area of unimproved grassland which partially includes an area of derelict ridge and furrow of good quality which represents a survivor of a once more elaborate area surrounding the outskirts of the City and dating back to the Medieval period”.

There is no mention of either an all-weather kick about area or any other play facility being re-provided.

Windsor House

The redevelopment of this site mentions the need for” a Community Use Agreement” for the new school playing field.

It is unclear with whom the agreement would be, for what hours and via with what access route?

The report on the Windsor House site dismiss the concerns raised in a petition collected by local residents. Officials accept that the local highway network is sub-standard (too narrow to meet modern standards). They claim only about 18 car trips a day would be generated by the 42 members of staff who will work at the new Children’s Centre. They claim 13 parking spaces will be adequate.

The officials conveniently forget that parking problems in the area have already been exacerbated by other building works including the 66 additional homes at Hob Stones.

Changing lifestyles mean that many more delivery vans also now visit the area.

At the very least the Council should ensure that there is a service road provided, from the parking area at the Hob Moor school, to the rear access to the centre. This might reduce the traffic impact on Kingsway West while providing an access for mini buses carrying disabled children and for deliveries.

Lincoln Court

Lincoln Court. Work has started on replacing windows. Concerns about parking

The proposal would see an additional 10 “extra care” bedrooms provided on the site. There are currently 22 apartments located on there. These are

being modernised with work having started recently on providing new double glazing. These will generate additional traffic and parking demands.

The report makes the outrageous claim that the MUGA is “disused”; something that officials apparently told the Sports Council in a bid to get them to withdraw their objection to the closure plan.

In fact, the Council suspended routine maintenance on the facility while discussions took place and later secured the entrance to prevent use. Funding had been made to provide “off the streets” activities there last summer but this was never implemented.

The MUGA has now been renovated and is once again usable with surrounding vegetation cleared back

It seems that west York faces a further loss of green fields and play facilities.

Inadequate parking provision will blight the area while congestion levels will increase

The neighbourhood deserves better.

Disabled children’s centre site plan 1

Lincoln Court expansion plans 2018

 

Good news and some bad news

The Kingsway kickabout area (MUGA) has been repaired. It was litter and vandal free when we visited yesterday and once again could fulfil a role in getting kids “off the streets”.

The area under the trees adjacent to the MUGA has been tidied. The MUGA can now be viewed from Lincoln Court following a request from residents there to have boundary hedges cut back.

We’ve asked for the weeds to be cut back

The Askham Grove snicket is looking very tidy these days. Not always the case in the past

Andrew Waller has had some success in getting a pothole filled in on Beaconsfield Street

Fly tipping has been cleared from around the recycling bins on the Acomb car park

Unfortunately the dumped sofa has not yet been removed from the Cornlands Road playground

A litter bin has been upended on Chesneys Field

 

Another sports facility to close in Westfield?

Kingsway West all weather football pitch

Council officials are pressing for the neighbourhoods only Multi User Games Area (MUGA) to be permanently closed

The MUGA is located off Kingsway West and was provided at the same time as the Hob Moor school was rebuilt in 2004. It was hailed as one of the community facilities that the PFI funded new build school would unlock. It proved to be the only causal use facility provided on the campus, with other facilities like the nursery later closing.

Initially the MUGA was to have been located within the school perimeter fence. It would have been secured by caretaking staff when not in use. Following pressure from the PFI contractors the MUGA became a stand-alone facility accessible outside school hours.

It satisfied the demand for “kick about” facilities to the east of Gale Lane.

Initially it was successful with detached youth workers staging events there. However, the then Labour controlled Council shredded the youth service following budget cuts in 2013. The organised use of the MUGA ceased. Calls for the Ward Committee to fund events there failed to get off the ground.

An experiment in leaving the area open resulted in arson damage to the all-weather surface which was never repaired. The service access gate was also damaged and not reinstated by the Council.

It is now little used and often strewn with litter and detritus.

Council consultation card Sept 2018

Yet there is still a demand for play and sports facilities for use by children in the area. The nearest alternative is the Energise (Better) sports centre on Cornlands Road which is run on a commercial basis.

Typically the cost of hiring an all weather pitch for a match is around £50.

Now officials are consulting on replacing the MUGA with other structures. They suggest wooden climbing frames, tree planting and better lighting.

There is a demand for better play facilities in the area but not at the expense of existing sports facilities.

We have already seen the Our Lady’s sports field developed and more recently plans have been approved to build on the football pitch at Lowfields. The Hob Moor school playing field will be reduced in size and an application to build on the Acomb Bowling Green is being considered by the Council.

Officials promised that, as part of the Lowfields scheme, pitches on Chesney’s Field would be levelled and upgraded. But the football season* has started without any sign of improvement.

The Council acknowledge that there is already a deficiency in sports and green space provision in the Westfield area. The Councils own Local Plan identifies the existing shortfalls as 4.98 ha of outdoor sports facilities, 6.02 ha of children’s play and 2.86 ha of young persons facilities.

Life expectancy in the Westfield ward is lower than in other parts of York. This is partly put down to unhealthy lifestyles.

Council run consultation exercises were discredited by the Lowfields fiasco. Rather than asking people to record a vote in favour or in opposition to multiple options, the exercise depended on narrative responses.

These were easy to manipulate by official’s intent on justifying a particular outcome.

This must not happen again.

There is a demand for “off the streets” activities for young people. Facilities like the MUGA – if well maintained and promoted – can make a difference. The plans for the new children’s centre on Ascot Way could also unlock the potential for better play facilities for younger children.

But all age groups need to be catered for.

*NB. The Beagle FC beat Cawood 4-0 in their Chesney Field encounter on Saturday

York Council sports and open space need assessments