A detailed view of a rainbow corner flagIt looks like a controversy may be brewing over the York Council’s membership of a LGBT  organisation called “Stonewall”.  The Council has been a subscriber for about 10 years. In return for a £2500 annual membership fee, it is described by Stonewall as a “diversity champion” on its literature.

Having flown largely under most peoples radar for some years, the organisation has become more controversial recently. It is telling people how to style themselves and those that they interact with. A current Freedom of Information request is seeking  more information from the Council.

The issue has been highlighted by the decision of various government departments and organisations  like Channel 4 to withdraw support from Stonewall. This is turn appears to have been prompted by some – borderline eccentric – missives from the organisation which included a plea to re-label “mothers” as “a parent who has given birth”.

The genesis of the controversy though appears to have been differing views on Trans-gender policies.

We think that people should be able to label themselves as they chose. If “product of incubation tube 5” suits, then so be it.

But organisations which accept taxpayer funding must also be sensitive to the views of others. There is sometimes a fine line between educational and political activities. Stonewall is a registered charity.

It is not just national organisations that need to be sensitive to the views of their members and supporters. For a couple of years now York Civic Trust (also a charity) has been edging towards a more extreme approach to transport policies. Its latest attempt to influence the emerging Local Transport Pan can be found be clicking here

“For the city centre, we propose that removal of what the Council refers to as non-essential
car use should be achieved by restricting through movement*, increasing parking charges
and selective reduction of parking space. Expansion of the Clean Air Zone to include cars
would help achieve our low emission targets. It may also be appropriate to consider a
permit system for access, enforced as Coppergate is currently“.

reduce the mode share for travel by car to 49% in 2027 and 40% in 2037“.

*NB. the only significant volume of City centre  “through movement” vehicle journeys currently takes place via Lendal Bridge

The statements are made without any attempt to model the impacts that such policies would have on the rest of the City, much less the consequences for the economy.

The members of the Civic Trust, and citizens more generally, will expect a measured and evidenced approach from the Council as it reviews its transport plans.

“WalkYork” represents York pedestrians

The York Civic Trust is promoting a new group which aims to articulate the needs and aspirations of users of York’s biggest transport system.
We wish them well.
We have recorded on many occasions that green footpaths, particularly in sub-urban areas, have been neglected over recent years.
Many have been heavily used for exercise during the lockdown period, Some now badly need repairs to infrastructure like stiles while work to remedy boggy and flooded sections is also needed.
Even well used bitmaced paths like The Mount are overdue for resurfacing
The Trust says in an email to its members,
Formed last year, WalkYork is a project that has been developed by Dr Roger Pierce, an active member of the Trust’s Transport Advisory Group, who identified a real need for a devoted online presence to promote and represent walkers in York.
Free to join, becoming a WalkYork member provides access to news of city-wide schemes and proposed changes impacting pedestrians who have not previously been consulted about major changes impacting them.
Bringing together views, the group can give a voice to individual concerns and suggestions, helping to negotiate improvements and influence Council decisions. 
The larger the membership the more influential they can be!”
Damaged stile on popular exercise route in York

You can find out more about WalkYork, and how to join, on their website.

29 Castlegate remains empty

29 Castlegate – £1/4 million repair bill

One of the properties owned by the Council which has remained empty and unused for a long period of time – 29 Castlegate – looks like it will remain so indefinitely. Budget provision to upgrade the property – which occupies a key position next to Fairfax House – is being taken out of this year’s programme.

Apparently a decision, on the future of the building, will be taken at a meeting next month.

The property, which most recently accommodated a youth support centre, was to have been sold, with the York Civic Trust the most likely occupant. That deal fell through amidst claims that the Council were not getting “best value” for the property.

 The Council now says that the refurbishment work cannot start until the next financial year. £270,000 has been allocated for repairs to the building

It remains unclear why the Council did not try to sell the property on the open market and why no attempt has been made to find at least a temporary use for what is a prime site.

Cycle path maintenance still poor

The York Civic Trust was reported in the media today as backing a “go slow” by cyclists in the City centre. They were apparently highlighting the need to remove cars from roads to allow for safer cycling.

Any such plans need to be subject to detailed consultation. The Civic Trust could make a start by re-engaging with its own members.

We have already seen on half baked scheme – on Bishopthorpe Road – impact adversely on both shoppers and traders. Nearby roads became clogged at peak times increasing pollution levels.

A similar situation arose at Marygate car park where 40 spaces are currently coned off to provide a (largely unused) route for cyclists. Many cyclists choose to use the internal service road. Meanwhile pressure on parking spaces means shoppers are discouraged and prosperity in the City centre is put under more pressure.

The City does’t benefit from impulsive, uninformed, decision making.

If cyclists – with or without the support of the Civic Trust which really should have other concerns – choose to “go slow” then they will only be replicating life of many riders who try to use existing, suburban, off road cycle paths.

Moor Lane shared cycle/footpath obstructed by overgrown hedge

Too many of these are obstructed by hedges and weeds. Surfaces are damaged, signage faded and lines obscured by age. There are no regular maintenance inspections. Even local Councillors seem unaware of the problems or are indifferent to them.

If the Council has funding available then that is where they should make the first investments.

What’s on in York: Civic Trust events

A interesting programme of events has been prepared by the York Civic Trust. Mostly aimed at members, there are also some which could attract a wider audience.

Membership of the York Civic Trust is only £30 (click)

Likely to be of particular interest is an open series of lectures commencing in May which traces the influence that settlers and immigrants have had on the City.

The organisers say that in 2021 they will bring the story up to date. Given the present Home Secretary’s policies that may turn out to be a very short lecture.

The Peoples of York, Lecture 1: Arrivals

This is the first in a landmark series of six talks. The lectures will explore how York was shaped by settlers from Europe and beyond from the earliest times. The stories of individuals and the history of familiar places will come to the fore in six enlightening and engaging talks.

Organised by YCT, and supported by York Museum Trust, these fascinating sessions will be open to everyone. The series will launch with an insight into Roman and Anglian arrivals in York. In the autumn of 2020, the stories of medieval settlers will come to the fore. In 2021, we will hear how the city was shaped by the turbulence of 19th and 20th century migrations across Europe, and bring York’s story up to the present day.

Venue: Tempest Anderson Hall, Yorkshire Museum

Ticket cost: FREE
Ticket purchase:

What’s on in York: “Hungate – The First 2000 Years” Peter Connelly Lecture

16th October

6:15 pm – 7:45 pm

Venue: Friargate Meeting House, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN


The archaeology of Hungate, York has provided evidence for at least 2000 years of continuous human connection to this low lying parcel of land nestled in the Foss valley.

During his talk Peter will trace these connections from the use of the area as a Roman cemetery on the edge of Eboracum, through the organised development on the fringes of Viking Age Jorvik and onwards across time to the start of the 20th century when Hungate was called home by a large working class community.

By illustrating the perspective of the last 2000 years, Peter will reveal how certain choices in the past have influenced the development of the Hungate, we see today. He will finish his talk with a personal view of how contemporary decisions, may influence the development of Hungate in the future.


What’s on in York: The Georgian Edit

Cutting Edge Fashion of the Eighteenth Century @ Fairfax House

Opening on the 23rd August and running until the 31st December it includes a fabulous array of men’s and women’s fashion from an era when daring and flamboyant designs brought theatre into everyday life.

The exhibition celebrates ten years of ground breaking fashion exhibitions at Fairfax  House and draws together works which highlight the exuberance, playfulness and often extremes in fashion worn by those gorgeous Georgians.

Showcasing sumptuous dresses, suits, shoes and a wealth of exquisite accessories the exhibition runs throughout the house, offering visitors a unique opportunity to see Georgian cutting edge fashion up close. 

What’s on in York: Bomb Happy D-Day – A play about ordinary men in extraordinary times

by Everwitch Theatre

14th, 15th and 16th June

York Army Museum, 3A Tower Street, York. YO1 9SB

“I haven’t seen anybody dead before and we’re in the water, wading to the shore and we’re literally brushing against… bodies rolling in the surf…eighteen, nineteen year olds…people that we know…”

Bomb Happy evocatively brings to life the verbatim memories of the last five York Normandy Veterans who, as young lads from York, Leeds, Sheffield and London, find themselves part of one of the most important military operations in World War Two.

Told in their own words, Bomb Happy follows each Veteran’s unique journey from D-Day to VE Day highlighting the lifelong impact of post traumatic stress disorder.

Meet the Veterans- a unique opportunity to meet York’s remaining D-Day Veterans, including one or two of the real men behind the stories in Bomb Happy, alongside their wives & widows, after the show!

“ Bomb Happy is a verbatim victory….What we see on stage are not worldly-wise old men reminiscing about the past but boys shipped to an unknown land being confronted with the carnage of the battlefield. 5 star Review, Broadway Baby

“…it would be hard to imagine a more emotional experience at any Yorkshire theatre this season.” Charles Hutchinson, York Press

” This play about ordinary men in extraordinary times deserves a much wider audience…This really is a must see play, which will stay with you forever.” Paul Reed, BBC Historian, The World at War

“An incredibly powerful and moving piece. Brilliant cast. Veterans story told in their own words. Do please see it if you can.” Neil Foster, BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Leeds

Suitable Age 12+