Apprentice recruitment event to be held in York

Employers from across the city will be showcasing high quality Apprenticeship vacancies at City of York Council’s third Apprenticeship Recruitment Event.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, which seeks to promote Apprenticeships to both young people and businesses, City of York Council will host an event to promote the wide range of Apprenticeship vacancies across the city.

The event, held on Thursday 12 March between 4.30pm and 7.30pm at West Offices, will see young people aged 16-24 and their parents have the chance to meet with recruiting employers and existing apprenticesas well as find out about alternative routes to Level 3 qualifications and university.

A range of employers and training providers will be promoting over 200 Apprenticeship vacancies covering business and finance, construction, digital marketing, engineering, I.T, health, childcare and more. Employers at the event include City of York Council, the NHS, Nestlé, PureNet, the Armed Services, Portakabin, Volkswagen, Hyder, Network Rail, York Medical Group and many more.

Connexions advisors will be also be available at the event to offer support with next level options, including Apprenticeships, plus 1:1 CV and Job Application sessions.

For more information on the event click

Liberal Democrats in government are proud to have delivered more than two million apprenticeships in this Parliament.

Parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, Layla Moran visited apprentices and employers to hear about how apprenticeships are helping young people and businesses in Kidlington.

Watch the video below to hear from Adam Marsh of ACE Training and Paige McConville, the two millionth apprentice.

Apprentice video


Labour/Greens implementing £35 a year bin emptying tax

Liberal Democrats have criticised Green Councillors for backing proposals which will see residents charged £35 a year for all garden waste collections.

Cllr Ann Reid and local LibDem candidate Stephen Fenton with green waste

Cllr Ann Reid and local LibDem candidate Stephen Fenton with green waste

As previously reported, Green Party councillors last week supported the ruling Labour Group’s Budget along with former Conservative Cllr Joe Watt. The plans will see a charge introduced for all green bin collections alongside increased car parking rates and cuts to community centres, road repairs and street cleaning.

In 2013, Labour was forced to abandon plans to charge for all green bin collections after 1,700 residents signed a Lib Dem petition and concerns were raised that a blanket charge would see recycling rates tumble.

However, Labour did force through a cut to winter collections and introduced a £35 charge for residents with more than one green bin.

This new charge is the equivalent of a 4% increase in Council Tax for most residents 

The new plans, part of the council’s ‘Re-wiring’ project, will now see a charge for all garden waste collections in 2015/16 with officers recommending a flat £35 fee per bin.

Plans to reduce the frequency of grey bin collections will also be considered as part of the proposals.

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, commented:

“It is hugely disappointing that Green councillors supported Labour’s Budget. This decision means further cuts to frontline services, increased fees for car parking and a new charge for all green bin collections.

“Under Labour recycling rates have already fallen and Landfill Tax bills increased to £3.7 million. Making residents pay £35 to recycle their garden waste will do further damage.

“Liberal Democrats worked with residents to defeat these plans in 2013, but Green councillors have now paved the way for a new Green Bin Tax in York as well as the option to reduce grey bin collections.

“The Lib Dem budget proposal was the only one which scrapped these plans. It would also have returned winter green bin collections and increased investment to boost recycling rates.

“The Labour-Green union, which last year blocked a review into the Lendal Bridge trial, has now passed a budget which will see cuts to services and reckless borrowing continue on projects such as the £9million Guildhall Media Hub.

“While I am pleased that Castlegate has been given a short-term reprieve and there is some hope for Yearsley Pool, the Labour-Green budget includes damaging cuts to community centres, road repairs and street cleaning as well as this new Green Bin charge.”

Details of the Green Bin proposals are included in the council’s plans for ‘Place Based Services’ – click here to access a copy

Public service in York getting worse this year – official

Little attention has been given to a report to tomorrows Cabinet meeting which shows a marked decline in the quality of some public services in York

Graffiti taking longer to remove

Graffiti taking longer to remove

It is taking the Council between 2 and 3 days to clean graffiti now – almost double the time taken two years ago

The number of York residents on the housing waiting list has increase from 1344 to 1439 over recent months It is still low compared to historical levels (because many applicants were struck off the list last year by the Council)

Only 62% of tenants are satisfied now with the Council as a landlord. To a degree this reflects the lack of investment in the Council estates across the City (a LibDem regeneration plan was voted down last week by the Labour/Green coalition)

Customer satisfaction with the quality of streets and public places has slipped below 50% as has satisfaction with green spaces.

Only 48% think that the Council is tackling anti social behaviour well.

Fewer residents (12%) are now “volunteering”

The number of people aged over 65 admitted to residential and nursing care homes had risen to 767 (per 100k population) by the end of last year. Numbers are increasing again this year.

By December 27 residents were victims of delayed discharges from hospital. Of these 15 were down to York Council care failings.

Waste going to landfill increasing

Waste going to landfill increasing

The Council is failing its waste management targets. Consequently taxpayers will foot an increased £3.7million landfill tax bill.

Stage carriage bus use in the City is stable.  The Council refuses to publish monthly figures indicating the number of buses running on time (was 84% last year according to DoT figures)

York Business Improvement District – last chance

The Council’s Cabinet will tomorrow agree to spend £25,000 on a second attempt to establish a “business improvement district” (BID) in the central part of York.

It is 10 years since the first attempt was made. BIDs require the support of the majority of businesses in an area if they are to be able to use supplementary rate income to fund economic regeneration initiatives.

A decade ago, a similar scheme failed to gain widespread support and was abandoned.

 At the time, several of the national chains (who exercise a large number of votes in any ballot) refused to participate in the scheme, while the Council had taken steps to freeze (and at Fossgate reduce) parking charges – so there was less incentive for change.

In addition the City centre was generally trading well – as it is today. There are relatively few empty shops in the core area and the latest footfall figures show number increasing (which is what you  would expect as the country emerges from recession)

The imitative has come in the wake of the 3 “free” parking morning’s initiative which was funded through S106 contributions from a development at Monks Cross. That funding ends soon and the Council last week agreed to a Green party proposal to a general increase in car parking charges. The background, therefore, maybe one of the “perfect storm” with several marginal businesses in the City centre likely to feel the pinch.

In 2007, the BID project was led by an experienced manager who had done similar schemes successfully elsewhere.

This time the former editor of The Press newspaper is likely to be in charge.

The business case is unconvincing at least  in so far as it fails to debate what has changed, over the last 10 years, which could result in the majority of business now voting for an initiative which would increase the amount they pay in Business Rates.

The Council says that, if successful, the BID would expect to generate an additional £800,000 a year which would be spent on “an improved city centre environment in terms of public realm, security, increased footfall, events and cleanliness

Dringhouses selected for community speed watch trial

Community Speed Watch

The Community Speed Watch pilot programme will run at up to 50 sites across York, Harrogate, Selby and Harrogate “where local people have already registered a concern about speeding vehicles”.

The Police say that the sites are “mainly” residential areas with 30 and 40 mph speed limits.

In York the chosen sites are in Holgate, Strensall, Clifton Moor, Dringhouses and Rawcliffe

No consultation with local Councillors appears to have taken place.

In a media release the Police say, “Over the next six months, police volunteers, together with members of the community, will visit the sites with a hand-held radar gun and/or an LED speed sign.  They will record vehicle speeds and anyone caught speeding will receive a letter from North Yorkshire Police informing them of their offence and the need to address driving behaviour.

The main purpose of Community Speed Watch is to draw drivers’ attention to speed limits in areas where communities say it is affecting their quality of life, and to educate them about the effects that anti-social road use can have on local people.  However, North Yorkshire Police will also be keeping a close watch on the recorded data, and may take enforcement measures if a persistent or extreme offender is identified”.

Details of the community speed watch leaflet can be found by clicking here

Call for bus fares to be reduced

Liberal Democrats are calling for public transport users to enjoy the benefits of lower fuels prices.

Bus fares have risen steadily over the last 4 years with park and ride charges which were increased by 5% in January.

The No 12 bus to Foxwood Lane, York - one of a number of bus routes which could be cut

First buses last increased their single fares in September 2013. Some other fares were restructured in the light of falling customer numbers at the same time.

Since then fuel prices have dropped by 21%.

Taxi fares were last reviewed in April 2014. Another review is due next month. The Council has been asked under Freedom of Information legislation to release details of the cost assumptions made when approving fare increases.

Fuel costs have reduced by 17% since last April.

Public transport providers do, of course, face other costs. These include labour and depreciation costs while maintenance and licensing charges also take a toll. But most of these costs have been stable recently so passengers will be expecting to benefit.

Lower fares may mean a “win win” for operators with increased passenger numbers making up any reduction in income.

“Free station bus service is aimed at visitors”

Yesterday’s announcement that car parking charges would increase in order to fund a fares free bus service form the station to the hospital is attracting a growing level of criticism.

Bus users have pointed out that they will have already purchased a “through” ticket when boarding the bus on the first leg of their journeys. The majority of bus journeys are made by elderly concessionary pass holders anyway, who get “free” travel anyway (the bill is picked up by the government).

It seems that the only real beneficiaries of the new service will be visitors/tourists arriving by rail at the station.

Monkgate to be closed for resurfacing from 9th March

City of York Council is to reconstruct Monkgate carriageway starting on the 9th March 2015. 

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The works are programmed to take one week to complete, working Monday to Friday between 7pm and 11pm.

The area affected is shown on the plan right.

To carry out the works safely, the road closure will be in place from 7pm to 11pm Monday to Friday, a signed diversion will be in place.

The Contractor carrying out the work will be Aggregate Industries Ltd

York population growth projections cut again

The latest population projections published by the government show a lower than expected increase in the City’s population in the period up to 2037.

Big City or Our City

The City’s population is now expected to grow from 195,000 in 2014,  to 214,000 in 2030 (the end date of the draft Local Plan).

This represents a growth of 19,000 producing an annual average increase of 1266.

This converts into a demand for an additional 575 homes per year (at an average occupancy level of 2.2 persons per home).

This is the figure that the Council used when it published its first Draft Local Plan in February 2011.

This is less than half the figure kicked about by Labour when they issued their projection figures in 2012.  Their “Big City” expansion plans produced outrage across the City and eventually led, in the autumn of last year, to the draft Local Plan being rejected by the newly balanced Council.

The City would be able to identify sites for 600 homes each year on land which already has planning permission and/or which is brownfield (previously developed) land.

There is no justification for building on Green Belt land.

It is unlikely now that a new Draft Local Plan will be agreed before the Council elections take place on May 7th.