As long ago as 2012 The Council started negotiations to move its youth facilities centre from premises in Castlegate. Various other locations were considered for the centre before the Castlegate building was declared surplus to requirements about 3 years ago.
The youth facilities were subsequently relocated to Sycamore House.
A series of email exchanges revealed the extent of the “behind closed doors” dealings that the then Labour controlled council had been involved in during 2012.
By April 2017 a Council report revealed that the empty building was worth around £575,000 on the open market.
The report then went on to justify a sale to the York Conservation Trust for a reduced £431,000 claiming that major repairs were required.
The York Civic Trust promised a £2.8 million upgrade to the building and the adjacent Fairfax House (already owned by the Trust).
This would stimulate tourism for the general benefit of the City centre economy.
So, getting on for 2 years later, what progress has been made?
Very little it seems, with two peak shopping seasons having passed without what is a key location being exploited.
Taxpayers will want to be reassured that the deal, agreed nearly two years ago, is still on course to provide the benefits claimed by officials.
The York Civic Trust have confirmed that the restoration work that they plan to do on the Acomb War Memorial will be restricted to repairing and cleaning the stonework. Some of the lettering on the monument will also be repainted. The work is partly being sponsored by the Trust with a contribution from the City of York Council. The work is being managed by volunteers.
The scope of the refurbishment falls short of level of work which residents had hoped could be achieved before the Centenary of the end of WW1 which takes place on 11th November.
The original specification for the upgrade had included items like;
- Lopping some of the overhanging tree branches to allow more sunlight into the area (and thereby encourage plant growth)
- Extending the paving (which currently ends near the entrance) so that wheelchair users could access the memorial
- Provision of an interpretation board
- The possible provision of a commemorative public seat ( https://www.davidogilvie.com/ww1-seat )
The “Friends of Acomb Green” are hoping to have a fund-raising event shortly but, if more work is to be commissioned, in the time available, it is likely that Council and Ward committee funding will be required.
Restoration of the drinking fountain on Lendal was the top priority of those voting in a poll conducted by the York Civic Trust. It was seeking to timetable several projects for its “City Enhancement Project”
The Civic Trust have said that they will ensure that the War Memorial on Acomb Green is renovated before the 11th November; the centenary of the end of WW1. The work will be part funded by the City of York Council.
A further £6000 will be needed for the drinking fountain restoration.
The other projects mentioned in the poll will be undertaken over the next few years as resources become available.
The York Civic Trust has announced a “peoples vote” which will decide which of 5 City Enhancement projects will get the “go ahead”.
Generally we think that involving people in making choices like this is a good thing. However we had been led to understand that the York Civic Trust had already agreed to lead on the restoration of the Acomb War Memorial.
It appears not, as it is one of 5 schemes now competing for “peoples” votes.
Thus doubt has been cast on a scheme which it was intended should be completed by the November anniversary of the end of World War One. A local group (WW1 Acomb) had been set up to lead on local commemoration activities but had stood down from the War Memorial project when the Civic Trust said that they had adopted it.
The five schemes competing for votes, which vary wildly in cost, are:
- Acomb Green: Conservation and repairs to the War Memorial
- Monk Bar: Reinstatement of portcullis to working order
- Monk Bar: Conservation of Ice House
- Museum Street Water Fountain:
- Scarcroft School: Reinstatement of timber finial posts to bell tower
More details can be found here http://yorkcivictrust.co.uk/home/city-enhancement-2/peoples-choice-award/
The vote closes at 5:00pm, 25th June 2018
We think that the City Enhancement Programme is one of the best initiatives that has taken place in the City in recent years. However the organisers perhaps need to reflect on the need to make decisions in a timely way and to encourage participation from all parts of the City.
The York Civic Trust has launched a new programme of events aimed at its members.
The programme covers the spring and summer period and can be viewed by clicking here
Residents wishing to joint the Civic trust can do so by clicking here
York Civic Trust have some interesting events scheduled for March and on into the summer.
Not least, is a lecture on the life and work of Arnold Rowntree who was the Liberal MP for York during the time of the First World War.
The event is taking place at the Merchant Adventures Hall on Wednesday 14th March
For details on how to join the York Civic Trust please click this link