Councillors hand in New Earswick Pool Petition to Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

The petition against the closure of New Earswick Pool was presented to the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) this morning, at the Garth, with over 1,400 signatures.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillors in Huntington & New Earswick ward are calling on the JRHT to properly consult on its proposals to close the pool. York Liberal Democrats are concerned that the value of this facility to the community is not being considered and that the decision to close goes against JRHTs stated social values.

The petition has received excellent support since being launched in October and has reached over a 1,400 signatures, including that of former Olympic swimmer, Adrian Moorhouse.

Cllr Keith Orrell added:

“Immediately after the Trust announced their intention to close the pool, we wrote to New Earswick residents asking them to sign our petition. Furthermore, we also put the petition online and people from across the city have now signed. The response has been amazing. We would urge anyone who has not signed our petition yet to do so.  We need to show the Trusts how strongly people feel about the pool.”

Cllr Carol Runciman said:

“We appreciate that housing associations are facing budgetary pressures, forced on them by the Government, but we would urge the Trust to work with users and local people to explore ways of maintaining this facility.  The petition we have handed in today represents local peoples desire to keep the pool and the JHRT should work with residents to this end.”

Cllr Chris Cullwick said:

“We fully support all the users of the pool who have come together in their determination to keep the pool open. We will support them where we can in order to help them achieve

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…)

York swimming pool closure challenged

The decision by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust to close the New Earswick swimming pool has come under fire.  The Trust announcement yesterday claimed that the pool was losing £130,000 a year and needed £1.3 million spending on building repairs.

The statement came as a surprise with the last published accounts of the Trust (covering 2016) making no reference to the pool or the looming financial crisis.

The accounts do however reveal that the Trust had assets of over £163 million including reserves of £45 million.

The organisation made an operating surplus of £1.9 million last year.

The cost of supporting the swimming pool fell from £147,000 in 2015 to £133,000 in 2016.

The Trust spent £12 million on salaries last year including £185,000 on the remuneration of its Chief Executive.  Pay increases of 2.6% were agreed for staff last year.

Huntington and New Earswick’s three Liberal Democrat councillors have launched a petition calling on the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust to reconsider plans to close the swimming pool in New Earswick.

Cllrs Keith Orrell, Chris Cullwick and Carol Runciman are encouraging residents to sign the Liberal Democrat petition online:

Cllr Keith Orrell said: “The swimming pool’s closure has been announced by the Trust without any consultation with users of the pool or local people, and with no attempt to explore alternative funding options.

“We appreciate that the 1% rent reduction forced on Housing Associations by the Government has put even more pressure on their budgets but we would urge the Trust to work with users and local people to explore ways of maintaining a facility which has served local people for 50 years.”

York Council’s £3.5 million payment to local Universities

The York Council has released details of the payments that it has made to local Universities over the last 4 years.

Click to download full list

Click to download full list

In total, payments of around £3.5 million have been made although the vast majority of this (£3 million) was a grant to York University for the provision of a County Standard swimming pool. The scheme – part of the new “sports village” on Hull Road – was agreed after the Barbican pool closed and was paid for from the proceeds of the sale of the land there.

In total £192,519 has been paid to St Johns University. The largest payments were made to an anti bullying campaign although the University receives significant payments from taxpayers for the “Higher York” organisation.

The University of York fee payments range from £170,000 paid for the York Cares organisation (which managess voluntary projects in the City) to £850 for a speaker at a “women’s development session”.

All Council expenditure is now being closely scrutinised following the decision of the Labour Leadership to remove winter salt bins from key foopath locations in the City.

The bins cost only £50 a time to fill.

NB. At the last Council meeting the Labour Leadership revealed that it will pay £31,000 to York Athletics Club as a sweetener to move out of the Huntington Stadium. It had been intended to provide a replacement athletics facility at the sports village but Labour now propose to fund the refurbishment of the existing University athletics field.