York Council plans 10,000 capacity event at Huntington stadium

Star-studded concert will launch a weekend of ‘Grand Départy!’ celebrations in York

Russell Watson

Russell Watson

‘People’s Tenor’ Russell Watson, X Factor favourites Rough Copy and Union J, and Kian Egan of Westlife-fame are among the line-up for a star-studded concert that will kick off a weekend of ‘Grand Départy’ celebrations in York.

Planned for the evening of Friday July 4, the Grand Départy Concert will take place at York’s Huntington Stadium.

The size of the event has raised some serious questions about potential congestion, safety and security problems.

The Council has not yet started consultation with affected local residents and businesses in the Huntington area


The diverse line-up also includes York-based singer songwriter Alistair Griffin; British pop star Eylar Fox; The Loveable Rogues; 1980s bands Altered Images, Brother Beyond and the Blow Monkeys; and vocal harmony group The Overtones.

10,000 tickets are available for the event and demand is expected to be high. Priced at £29.50 for general admission, £35 for VIP seated tickets or £100 for a family ticket (for four people), they will be on sale from http://www.ticketline.co.uk/ from Friday 16 May.

The concert is just one element of an action-packed Grand Départy weekend planned for 4, 5 and 6 July. A host of other events and attractions will be taking place at locations across the city, including street theatre and live music.

Those who want to be at the heart of the action throughout the course of the weekend should head to City of York Council’s three Spectator Hubs at Monk Stray, the Designer Outlet and Millennium Bridge, where there will be family entertainment, big screens, refreshments, merchandise and much more.

For more information about the Spectator Hubs, visit: http://www.experiencetherace.com/



New Tour de France “app” launched

TdF app

Amidst growing concern about the escalating cost of staging the Tour de France start in York, the Council has launched a new mobile phone “app”.

It is called Cycle Yorkshire Ride The Routes.

Enabling cyclists to experience the Tour de France route from their mobile, the app is designed around the Yorkshire stages of the Grand Départ and encompasses information on the routes, hints and tips on how to cycle specific sections and general rural cycling road safety advice.

The information is presented in short videos on the app and text (for areas where mobile signal is limited). The film clips show Jamie Sharp (Semi pro rider for Team Hope) cycling each section with Jonathan Cowap (BBC York Radio Presentator) providing the advice and information in the voice over.

The app has been created as part of an ongoing Regional Safer Cycling Project that is the work of a Partnership Team, made up of representatives of every Yorkshire & Humber Road Safety Partnership.

Lead by City of York Council on behalf of the region. Kathryn Mackay, Road Safety Project Officer at City of York Council, said, “The app is aimed at all those cyclists and groups who are coming  to Yorkshire to ride all or part of the Grand Départ routes like their professional heroes.


Plea to plant yellow flowers in York prior to July cycle race

Cyclists and yellow flowers

Residents of York, famed for its cycling culture and yellow blaze of daffodils on the city walls, are being invited to get growing and help welcome the Tour de France on 6 July by Planting the City Yellow.

Anyone who wants to get gardening and brighten the city can dig in as part of the city’s arts and cultural festival called York: Be part of it.

Thanks to local sponsor Aldby Field Nurseries, 1,500 packs of French marigold seeds, compost, a seed tray and instructions will be available free to residents keen to start sowing.


Monk Stray licensing application papers made public

Monk Stray licensing notice

The York Council has now published details of the event it is planning to hold on Monk Stray as part of the Tour de France.

Details of the licensing application can be found by clicking here

As residents suspected, the licensing application would allow events to be staged on Monk Stray for 14 days (each year). In other words it is not a “one off” event as claimed by Labour spokespeople.

286 representations have been made on the application.

This is one of the highest levels of objection ever received to a licensing application in York.

The Police have insisted that the Council amend its proposals to reduce the area that any event can take place on and to control the sale of alcohol on the site

The decision on the application will be made on Tuesday 25th March at the Guildhall by 3 Councillors (2 Conservative and 1 Labour). The meeting will start at 10:00am and is open to the Press and public. Members of the public are now permitted to record the proceedings of Council meetings

In the event of the application being refused or substantially modified, the applicants (in this case, the Council itself) can make an appeal to the Magistrates Court.

The Council has been criticised for chosing to use Monk Stray for camping and “hub” activities connected with the Grand Départ. Residents have pointed to the University and Knavesmire as better located options.

NB. Liberal Democrats have again tabled questions for the Council meeting taking place on 27th March asking about the costs of the TdF and the likely income that the Council will receive to offset the £1.6 million that it is investing in the event.

The question reads:

Can the Cabinet Member outline how much additional income the Council can expect to receive from parking charges, rents, leases, licences, sponsorship and similar income streams during and after the “Grand Départ”?”

Newgate Market consultation enters new phase

From 17 March to 7 April, City of York Council will be embarking on its final phase of consultation on the controversial £1.6 million Newgate Market’s refurbishment, and will be “showing how research and consultation with shoppers, traders and local businesses is shaping the new layout”.

The Council claims, “Using feedback, we have identified the most popular ideas which include creating a new wider ‘street’ from one end to the other to enhance pedestrian flow and open up views into Newgate.

“We’re also working with businesses in the Shambles on how they could maximise trading opportunities by developing dual shop fronts – one onto the street, another onto the market. Other ideas include looking at creating a weatherproof roof that lets in light, more and different designs for stalls, better signage and a new recreational public space behind the Marks and Spencer store.

Potential to create a lively food court complemented by new kiosks and Shambles businesses opening into the market is being considered for the south eastern edge of the market. Artwork on the walls and lighting installations, café seating, pop-up trading or evening events could be accommodated in this flexible space

The Jubbergate entrance and how it can draw Parliament Street shoppers into Newgate is being considered with ideas including an overhead canopy of lights which double as colourful ‘bunting’ during the day.

This final stage of public consultation will show the latest proposals, developed from workshops and general consultations in the foyer of the council’s West Offices from Monday 17to Monday 24March, in the window of 5 Silver Street, and also online from Monday 17March to Monday 7April at www.york.gov.uk/newgatemarket

Thoughts on what is liked best and what is liked least about the latest proposals will be gathered by questionnaires at the exhibitions and online.

Meanwhile questions are being asked about where the Continental market and Food Festival events will be located while Parliament Street is in temporary use for the regular market stalls.

York West Bank park future at risk

West Bank parkThe Council is to consider handing over control and management of the West Bank Park to a residents group.

A largely impenetrable report is to be considered on 24th February which will recommend that the Council seeks grant funding from an organisation known as NESTA*.

This will “support changes to parks management and maintenance systems – including potential changes to maintenance regimes, restructuring contracts and maximising the productivity of particular landscapes”.

The NESTA project gives the example of holding concerts in the parks as a way of increasing income.

The report later talks of

exploring what community use and income generating possibilities 14 New Lane offers, either in its current form, or if rebuilt and extended, and using this to fund the future care and development of the whole site”.

This is pretty much now standard “Labour speak” for the withdrawal of Council funding, with residents left to pick up the burden.

A similar project led to the semi privatisation of the Libraries Service.

The newly independent “social enterprise” York Library service now finds that its Council funding is being cut by £200,000 over the next 2 years raising fears that several smaller facilities could close.

Parks – including West Bank – are also set for cuts in this years budget with £122,000 being lopped off.

Parks will be left unlocked with minimal maintenance “unless local groups step in to help”.

York has few formal parks and West Bank is the only one in the Acomb area.

It seems that a laudable initiative from some local residents – who wanted to set up a heritage centre at 14 New Lane to explain the history of the site – is now being used as a smokescreen to cover major changes to the use of the park.

There has ben no consultation with most residents who live in the area and who use the parks facilities.


*NESTA is short for the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts. It has apparently obtained access to National Lottery funding. It is viewed with suspicion by some residents who see it as a cover for the advance of the techno bureaucrat movement. Senior Council managers are understood to be involved with the organisation.