Local charities set to benefit from Lottery grants

Lottery balloon

Local charity”Timebank” which seeks to stimulate voluntary work in the area has been awarded a grant of over £8000 in the latest list of grants announced by the National Lottery.

The organisation will use the funding to pay a development consultant to carry out research and marketing to involve more people in the Timebank and expand to a wider geographical area. This will enable community members to help each other and reduce local levels of loneliness and isolation.

The grant is part of a total of £5.2 million in awards released across the country.

The media are also reporting that the Carr Junior school in Acomb has been awarded a grant to establish an outdoor fitness trail

Dringhouses cancern about impact of Academy school plan for Millthorpe

It looks like another 3 schools in York may opt for “Academy” status. Millthorpe secondary school and two of its feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to “join forces”.

They are currently consulting on their plans on whether to apply for Multi-Academy Trust status.

The decision has potentially big implications for a wide area with many pupils from Dringhouses Primary school feeding into Millthorpe. There are also issues for the Poppleton Road area as well as Bishopthorpe and Copmanthorpe. Local primary schools there are not apparently being invited to participate in the “closer working arrangements”  offered to the Scarcroft and Knavesmire schools.

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

The three schools involved would be able to operate free of interference (or support) from the York Council. What practical effect this might have is open to debate. The Council, these days, has little involvement with the day to day running of schools. Staff and governors are firmly in control of most decisions. Revenue funding comes direct to the school from central government while capital, for improvements, is also ring fenced.

The main advantage likely to be promoted is an increased in income for the schools involved. Money, which otherwise would come to the York Council to provide services shared by all schools in the City, would instead be top sliced and given to the Academy to manage.

The Academy would control its admission policy and could change the conditions – and pay – of its staff. It has more influence over its curriculum and may choose to focus exam entrants into vocational subjects – potentially providing impressive pass rates.

While some parents are calling for some sort of popular vote on the Academy plan, it is unclear who would participate in such a ballot.

Arguably children at other – non Academy – schools could suffer.

  • Should their parents have a vote?

Academies rely on taxpayers money to survive.

  • Should each Academy proposal be subject to a popular referendum?

Yet there is something wrong with a decision being taken by a small group of governors some of whom – employees – might be set to benefit financially from a move to Academy status.

It is clear that the York Council cannot veto the introduction of an Academy so little in the way of political accountability is available to objectors.

Originally introduced by the last Labour government, the number of Academy schools has grown over the last 5 years. There are already six Academy schools in York.

They are Archbishop Holgate’s School, Manor C of E Academy Trust, Robert Wilkinson Primary School, Haxby Road Primary Academy, Huntington Primary School and Poppleton Ousebank Primary School. The last two named schools only converted on 1st April 2015.

In one case the Council picked up a bill of £48,000 in accumulated debts when the school became an Academy.

You can judge how well local Academies are perfuming by viewing their OFSTED ratings (click name below). 

School catchment areas/admission policies are an important factor when comparing exam performance

Taxpayers also need some objective and transparent way of making a judgement on whether their interests are being protected.

The head teacher at Millthorpe, Trevor Burton, criticised OFSTED reports 12 months ago. He claimed that the organisations gradings artificially favoured (selective) grammar schools. The impact that any three school Academy arrangement might have on the eligibility of children to participate successfully in the project will no doubt be a key consideration for decision makers.

York allotment facts

York allotment classes prize giving 1925

York allotment classes prize giving 1925

How many plots are there on the 16 allotment sites belonging to City of York Council? 1333

How many tenancies are there on these sites? 1271

How many people are currently on a waiting list for a plot? 144

Have there been new allotments created since 2010? Are there any plans to create new allotment space in the near future? Yes

How much revenue is generated to the City of York Council by renting out these plots? Rents £53,807 How much money does it cost the City of York Council to rent these plots(maintenance, water + any other costs involved). Direct costs £27,370, plus management and administrative costs (time) which is not kept as a single figure

Source FOI CFT0148 

For a full list of the allotments run by the City of York Council click here

Get fit playing football in York

 Residents are being invited to net the chance to take part in a new football course to get them ‘Footy Fit’.

Footy fit

The new course, run by City of York Council in partnership with the York City Football Club Foundation, kicks off at Burnholme Community Sports Hub, starting on 3 June at 6.30pm and will run every Wednesday for ten consecutive weeks.

The aim of ‘Footy Fit’, which is open to all adults who want to reach their fitness goals, is to gradually improve fitness using football drills and regular games.

This fun and friendly class is ideal for all abilities and a great way to get back on the ball. All ages and levels of fitness are welcome and all attendees need to do is dust off their boots and put on some shin pads.

Equipment will be provided and the course will be led by a York City Foundation Football coach who is also qualified in building strength and conditioning.

The course costs just £30 for ten weeks and sessions will last one hour. To book a place please contact Dean Sharp on 01904 553377 or e-mail dean.sharp@york.gov.uk. Places are limited for the course and booking is essential.

Archaeological work could delay key projects – Theatre Royal and Community Stadium face delays

Archaeologists have found remains of significance during the York Theatre Royal refurbishment. It means that  the reopening of the Theatre will be delayed.

The annual pantomime (DickWhittington and his Meerkat!) is being moved to the Railway Museum (click)

Another major dig is taking place at the site of the planned new Community Stadium.

Outline of roman camp revealed

Outline of roman camp revealed

There is likely to be some concern about what impact this work will have on the practical start date for the construction of the stadium.

The project is already 2 years behind schedule.

At Huntington, archaeologists know broadly what they are likely to find. A roman “training” camp was revealed a few years ago – by chance – during a routine aerial survey of the area. Its existence had been unknown when the original stadium was built. While some artifacts may be unearthed it seems unlikely that the dig will overrun its 4 week timetable.

Updates on the work can be found by clicking here

The decision notice on the planning application is not due to issued until July and confirmation of contractors will not be possible until then in any event.

The open day for potential sub contractors will take place on 1st June (see below).

Meet the buyer event

Meet the buyer event

We expect an early statement from the new York Council about the Knights Rugby Team and their re-engagement with the project.

How quickly it becomes clear, whether the promised July 2016 stadium completion date will be met, remains to be seen.

Projects of this scale would normally take at least 18 months to construct, fit out and pass through various accreditation processes.

York eleventh in foreign visitor league table

According to new figures published by ONS, York attracted fewer foreign visitors than its neighbour Leeds last year. The City was also behind both Oxford and Cambridge

City visits by foreign visitors 2014

The visitors included those on business trips and well as holidaymakers.

Neither the York Council nor Visit York have as yet commented on the new figures.

There was an increase in the number of visits to the UK by overseas residents for the fourth consecutive year in 2014, and the highest number of visits since the IPS began in 1961. It also had the highest recorded spending.

In 2014 overseas residents made 34.4 million visits to the UK, 5.2% higher than in 2013.

Earnings from visits to the UK reached a record level of spending in the UK of £21.8 billion, they increased by £0.6 billion (2.8%) compared to 2013.

The number of nights spent in the UK rose to 264.6 million, an increase of 7.8% compared to the previous year.

Visits from North America and Europe increased in 2014 by 3.3% and 6.6% respectively. Spending from North America and Europe also grew by 11.6% and 4.2%. However, visits and spending by visitors from “Other Countries” showed a decline of 0.2% and 2.9% respectively.

Holidays remain the main reason for visits to the UK, accounting for 13.6 million visits, a rise of 7.2% compared with 2013. Business visits and visits to friends and family both showed a growth of 4.8%.

A record 17.4 million overnight visits to London were made by overseas residents in 2014, an increase of 0.6 million (3.5%) from 2013, and £11.8 billion was spent on these visits.

Overnight visits to the rest of England grew by 5.1% to 14.2 million. Visits to Scotland and Wales also continued to rise in 2014, with Scottish visits up 11.5% and Welsh up 7.3%.

UK residents made 4.0% more visits abroad and spent £1.0 billion (3.0%) more during these visits in 2014 than 2013. The length of visit also increased, up 1.9% to 616.5 million nights.