We’ll meet again

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The government has told councils to start meeting again from May.

Interim regulations permitted local authorities to hold remote meetings using facilities such as “zoom”. Now they will have to get together in a room with efforts being made to accommodate members of the public.

Unfortunately work on York’s Guildhall is far from complete so meetings may reconvene at the Citadel building in Gillygate.

The York Council was one of the pioneers a decade ago in live streaming meetings so the recent introduction of on line access was less of an innovation than it was for some authorities.

The on-line format has been criticised for producing a sterile atmosphere with the cut and trust of debate missing from the decision making process.

Emergency powers delegated some decisions to officials. Unfortunately there was no requirement to publish details of up coming officers decisions. The first that residents heard of some plans was when a decision notice was issued some days later.

That is something that needs to change.

The government is consulting on how the option of “on line” decision making can be made available in the future.

Certainly many Executive member decision sessions – which last for a few minutes and produce little or no engagement from residents – might usefully be held without the need for unnecessary travel (subject to the usual requirement to allow public representations to be made).

The first meeting in public may be the Council’s AGM at which a new Lord Mayor will be elected.

The meeting is scheduled to take place on 27th May.

Coronavirus York updates; 26th April 2020

Consumer spending

Tortoise have updated their consumer spending tables. They are now live here  CLICK They reveal that York’s retail sector has been badly affected by the Coronavirus clampdown. The City is the 19th worst affected of 172 areas surveyed antionally. Scarborough (14th) and Whitby (7th)  are also badly affected.

The York Council’s Executive will be meeting shortly. We would expect to see them discussing a first draft of an economic recovery plan for the City.

Coronavirus deaths

THREE more people with coronavirus have died at hospitals within the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The three further deaths brings the total for the trust to 104. The figure passed 100 for the first time yesterday when it stood at 101. The trust includes York Hospital and Scarborough.

Testing centre opens at Poppleton

A drive through coronavirus test centre opens in York today. The facility at Poppleton Park and Ride is open for NHS and other key workers on ly, and they’ll need to make an appointment.

Zoom warning

The police have issued the following warning for “Zoom” users.

As I am sure you are all aware, the use of the Zoom application has dramatically risen over the past few weeks with people using it to keep in touch, whether this be for business or social purposes.  However, Zoom is faced some scrutiny due to how insecure it is from a cyber and online perspective, leaving individuals and businesses vulnerable to online cyber attacks.  In response to this, the National Police Chiefs Council has issued some guidance around its use, which I have attached to this email

How Age UK York are supporting residents, with the help of council volunteers

To help relieve pressure on emergency services, volunteers from the council together with Age UK York are driving discharged hospital patients home.

To help relieve pressure on the emergency services, 25 volunteers from the council’s pool of volunteers who matched Age UK York’s criteria have been deployed to join the charity’s Home from Hospital service and their existing two volunteer drivers.

Suitably experienced volunteers with no underlying health conditions and who aren’t medically-shielding, can opt to transport patients who have had Covid-19. They will use personal protection equipment (PPE) and extra hygiene measures which follow Government guidelines. This includes drivers using 1,800 disposable plastic car seat covers kindly donated by garages:

  • Stoneacre Ford York
  • Vantage Toyota York
  • Butts of Bawtry
  • Fulford Auto Services

Another example of the city coming together. Find out more in this press release

Council bring public meetings online in response to extended lockdown

City of York Council will host the next Executive meeting online on 7 May 2020 (The agenda will be published on 29 April). Members of the public who want to speak at meetings will be encouraged to contact the Council’s Democratic Services Team, as usual, and register to speak.  Those who register to speak will then be provided further details on how they can dial into the public meeting and contribute.

Homelessness and housing update

 We are providing accommodation for all homeless households and individuals in the city now and will continue to do so beyond this emergency, as we normally do.

 In addition to using our own and partners’ hostel accommodation, we are currently supporting around 35 homeless households – a mix of families, couples and single people – in self-contained bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation offered to us during the emergency.

 Depending on each individual’s level of need, single people or rough sleepers are housed in a mix of existing hostels and bed and breakfasts, and in hotel rooms – all in single rooms to allow social distancing and self-isolation.

 All the rough sleepers we are supporting are already known to us and the vast majority have accepted the accommodation which each and every one is being offered. We continue to remind them of the lockdown’s requirements, and work hard to persuade them all to come into and stay in their accommodation.

 Rough Sleeper services are operating in the usual way. For a bed, please go to 63, Lawrence Street or call 01904 416562 or at evenings or weekends please call 01609 780780.

 We are continuing with our services for people who are concerned about becoming homeless and need our advice to help prevent homelessness. This is being done online or by phone on 01904 554500 or via www.york.gov.uk/homelessness/housing-options. These teams continue to help people facing homelessness through, for example, financial hardship, relationship breakdown or issues with private landlords. We’re also working with landlords across the city to support their tenants and minimise evictions. We’ve seen a slight rise in single people asking our preventative services for help which may be because they usually live with friends or family who now need to self-isolate.

 We’re prioritising our work to prepare empty council homes ready to re-let and are finding private rented accommodation harder to come by at the moment. We plan to continue working with hotels and B&Bs for the duration of the lockdown to keep people safely accommodated and we are working on plans to ensure that as we move out of lockdown everyone will have accommodation options. 

Where individuals do become homeless and sleep on the streets, we continue to offer tailored support. Whether it’s mental health support, dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, relationship breakdown or poverty, we try and help each individual into suitable accommodation and services. Once they start working with us and our partners in the city – like Changing Lives or the Salvation Army – we can address each person’s needs including getting benefits in place, training for work, money and tenancy management, before helping them into stable accommodation.

 While we carry on with this work, we’ve had to be increasingly innovative about safely supporting rough sleepers – especially those with more complex needs or challenging behaviours – while also maintaining social distancing for other clients and our staff. Like all other services, we’re doing more by phone and are prioritising emergencies. With York CVS we are signposting the charities we work with, including SASH, Carecent and Changing Lives, to apply for additional funding for voluntary groups.