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

What’s on in York: “Surprise ending”” a play on at Foxwood Community Centre tomorrow

Foxwood Community Centre, Bellhouse Way

Thurs 18th Oct :

2.00pm – 3.00pm :


Surprise Ending is our Big City Read Play written for us by Bridget Foreman and performed by Riding Lights Theatre Company. This is the very first performance.

Come along and find out how Eric stops his world shrinking as Smidge’s expands in this light-hearted show which will make you think about reading in a completely different way.

To book tickets please click here.

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

Children asked to share ideas on playing in York’s parks

Local children and young people are being invited to tell the council what they would like to see and do in their local play parks.

Tedder Rd park playground 4 noon 6th June 2016

Tedder Road playground

The consultation is an important part of the city’s updated play policy ‘Taking Play Forward’ which was approved in May 2016. It is being launched with this summer’s Shine programme of activities for five to 18 year olds and asks young people what they would like to see take place, whether new equipment or other improvements.

The consultation includes City of York Council and Parish Council-controlled play areas and will influence how £265,000 of funding will be spent on playground improvements in 2017/18. Around £30,000 has already been allocated towards the replacement skatepark in Rowntree Park.

Suggestions are invited from children, young people, parents or carers and their ideas will be considered by a multi agency panel, including young people themselves. Photos or drawings are also welcomed. A final list of schemes will be forwarded to the Executive Member for approval and prizes of play and sports equipment to use in outdoor play areas are available for the best ideas.

New children’s play plan for York to be discussed

A new plan for play provision in York will be considered at a meeting next week.
strimming needed under play equipment in GBrange lane park

Strimming needed under play equipment in Grange Lane park

The City has £415,000 available to invest in new play provision. However, many existing sites are being excluded from consideration for improvement because they have “recently” had investment from the Playbuilder programme, the National Lottery or similar.

That means that 4 sites in Westfield – Chesney’s Field, (Foxwood Lane) Playbuilder 2009/10, Grange Lane Playbuilder & Yorventure 2010/11, Acomb Green Big Lottery Fund 2012 and Cornlands Road 106 and Yorventure – will not benefit.

It seems a shame to us that resources are not to be distributed based on the number of children resident in each area.

Westfield's newest playground located in the Cornlands park is increasingly popular

Westfield’s newest playground – located in the Cornlands park – is increasingly popular


It does mean though that some playgrounds, like the one in the Tedder Road park, may qualify for an uplift. The absence of a playground aimed at children living in the Kingsway West area has been an issue for a long time so perhaps that neighbourhood also may benefit.

Suggestions are being invited through the summer edition of “Shine”

The report also talks about high usage playgrounds being inspected each week to ensure regular maintenance and repair work is carried out.

Shake up in York open space contributions

It seems likely that there will be more openness in future about how money contributed by developers for public space improvements is used.

A report to a meeting taking place next week proposes that a list of monies available will be updated on the Councils web site each month.

This is a welcome proposal.

The Town and Country Planning Acts created the ability for Local Authorities to seek a payment from developers in lieu of providing children’s play space, amenity space and sports pitches within new housing developments. This is commonly known as a s.106 payment.

How the payments are used has been shrouded in secrecy for years. In the past some were even syphoned off to help private member’s sports clubs.

One area of concern is the threat that local public spaces will have lower maintenance standards in future.  This concern is likely to be heightened by a reference in the new policy that the S106 funds will be concentrated on “the development of more ward based green space maintenance and care”. 

Land near Acomb Library which could be improved. Click to enlarge

Land near Acomb Library which could be improved. Click to enlarge

If the Council hopes that local residents will clean and maintain large public opens spaces, then they are kidding themselves.

The proposed policy also fails to identify the opportunity to acquire additional pieces of land for informal recreation. There are opportunities near the Westfield area which could see land – currently used for grazing – acquired for informal leisure use.

One idea is the establishment of a “country park”

The only likely significant redevelopment in the area – the former Lowfields school site – would also provide an opportunity to improve the adjacent playing fields. Similarly, the landlocked waste land to the side of the library on Front Street could be grassed over and used as a garden area.

But both require the York Council to start to actively manage its assets

NB. Section 106 payments are generally made where there is an existing or identified shortfall arising from a proposed development and it is not practical or desirable to have open space within a development (for example where developments are for individual or a small number of dwellings or where there is existing open space nearby which could be improved to accommodate the additional use from new residents). Payment is based on an approved formula related to the number of new bedrooms within the development.

Grants to apply for Better Play for young people

Community groups are invited to apply to City of York Council’s Better Play Grant, which provides funding to organisations that deliver play opportunities for children and young people in York.

In the new financial year, £87,000 will be shared between projects of between one and three year’s duration, and which address the priorities highlighted in the York Taking Play Forward policy. In the current Community Play programme, four organisations are delivering projects until the end of March 2015.

To qualify, applicants for the 2015-18 funding must be a constituted voluntary organisation, or a community organisation with policies and operating procedures in place which are appropriate for working with children and young people. Successful applicants will also be required to register their organisation on the YorOK Service Directory.

Anyone wishing to talk through a project or idea in more detail before applying can contact Tim Waudby on 01904 553426 email: tim.waudby@york.gov.ukor Mary Bailey 551812 email: mary.bailey@york.gov.uk
Application forms and guidance can be down loaded from www.yor-ok.org.uk/play and must be submitted before the deadline of 13 March 2015.

Acomb play equipment labelled “dangerous”

Weeds overwhelming play equipment

Weeds overwhelming play equipment

Aerial wire broken

Aerial wire broken


Play equipment in Grange Lane, Acomb has been labelled as “dangerous” by parents due a lack of maintenance.

Earlier today two pieces of play equipment were unusable with one – a wire ride – potentially hazardous for users.

Weeds and nettles were growing up through another piece of equipment making use impractical.



The area was badly littered.

The council has been heavily criticised in the past for failing to secure the playground against dogs.

Fouling continues to be an issue.