Waterworld sinking?

It looks like the delays on the Community Stadium project are now beginning to hit other parts of the City’s leisure services.

The Councils Labour Cabinet are set to hand an additional £450,000 to the contractors running Waterworld next year to keep it going.

The delay in letting a comprehensive contract – to run all building based leisure facilities in the City – means that Energise will be asked to find an additional £20,000 in income while it looks like the Yearsley Pool will be required to fund savings of £100,000!

Users will be eagerly awaiting news of how these economies will be achieved.

Increased admission charges have already been announced

Fitness for over 50’s at Energise

York’s over-50s can get into gear for the very popular third Eng-AGE 50+ Activity Day which will take place on Monday 17 February from 9.30am to 4pm at Energise.

Energise Pool

The day is the first big sport and activity event of the 2014 health and fitness calendar, in a year when York residents are being encouraged and inspired by the Tour de France to do more physical activity.

With the Tour de France setting off from York on 6 July it’s only right that this year we have included some bicycle related activities for the over 50s such as beginners spin classes, cycle maintenance and cycle training. This is a great opportunity to try some activities, meet new people, have fun and become fitter all at the same time! 

The day is led by coaches and fitness professionals who will give those taking part the confidence to have a go at different sports and physical activity sessions in a friendly and supportive environment. Useful information will also be provided on where and how to continue the activity at venues across York. A wide range of other activities are on offer to sample and include group classes of tai chi, aquafit, swimfit, synchronised swimming, pilates, short tennis, badminton, yoga, boxercise, chair based exercise, inclusive sports and zumba gold. Individual and team challenges in orienteering have been introduced and the popular introductions to the gym and climbing wall will also be available.

Participants may join in either morning or afternoon sessions at a cost of £3 per half day, or may attend for the full day for £5.

Further information, including a full timetable of events is available at www.york.gov.uk/engage and from libraries. Booking opens at 9am on Monday 3 February on a first come basis by calling Catriona Sudlow, City of York Council’s older peoples physical activity officer on 01904 553377.

Football & Rugby stadium in York to have 7000 capacity?

The Councils Cabinet is to consider an update on the much delayed Community Stadium at its meeting on 7th January.

The Council is seeking an operator who will design, build, operate and maintain the stadium. They will also manage and maintain the Councils other Leisure facilities such as the successful Energise sports centre on Cornlands Road.

Given the Council somewhat varied track record on Leisure centre management (the Barbican was costing taxpayers £800,000 a year until it was privatised), the Council is probably correct to seek a professional organisation to manage the Stadium.

Athletics layout - Heslington West click for original

Athletics layout – Heslington West click for original

Discussions with 2 preferred bidders are expected to continue until March. Their plans will be kept secret until later in the year.

The Council says that “All submissions were able to meet the basic minimum criteria set of 6,000 capacity all-seat stadium, community hub within the financial parameters of the project”

However designing the stadium so that it can be expanded in capacity later is described as having “major cost implications” and it seems that the initial capacity may be increased to over 6000 with “some terraced standing space”.

That is likely to please many football supporters but it would be at the expense of later expansion capability.

It seem likely now that a stadium with a capacity of 7000 will be provided but with the capability of expansion to 10,000 only if Championship (or Super League) promotion is achieved.

The report confirms that the costs of running the stadium will be covered “through a mix of the rentals from the sports clubs, the community hub tenants and other commercial income streams brought forward by each bidder. This will include full maintenance and lifecycle costs as part of a 13 year operational contract”.

The Council are now talking about opening the stadium in spring 2016.

Final Tenders

May 2014

Planning & Project Agreement Live

January 2015

Work starts on site

February 2015

Stadium Opens

February / March 2016

The £2 million athletics facility at Heslington West is expected to be opened in September 2014. A copy of the design specification for the athletics facility can be viewed here.

The Cabinet report includes a list of the risk factors that must be addressed. Not least amongst these is the need to meet the requirements of the Football Foundation who loaned York City £2 million in 2005.

LibDems back York community centres

Foxwood Community Centre

Foxwood Community Centre

Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour run City of York Council to cancel planned cuts to community centre grants.


In recent weeks Foxwood, Chapelfields and Oaken Grove centres have all warned they could face closure or be forced to scale back activities as they are set to lose their grants from York Council.


At next week’s Full Council meeting the Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Keith Aspden, will challenge the Labour Cabinet to address these concerns.


He is calling for the second year of planned funding cuts, due to be rubber-stamped in February for Labour’s 2014/15 Budget, to be scrapped.


Spending 40p – York Council flushed with optimism

The York Council is handing over the running of its public conveniences to a private contractor.

Toilet sign

A standard charge of 40p will be made to users. The contractor will be able to increase the charge by 10p per annum.

The news is not particularly surprising although the scale of the charge is.

Visitors already tortured by traffic restriction fines now face another form of discomfort. The vendetta follows on from the high profile persecution of those “caught short”.

The Council hopes to save £75,000 a year from the charge. In return it promises a £663,000 refurbishment programme including £33,000 to be spent on the Front Street Acomb toilets.

All toilets will have unisex cubicles and have baby change facilities. Accessibility will be greatly improved with all facilities having alarm cords for disabled users connected to a 24-hour helpline and there will be 24-hour access to all toilets. This will be controlled by gates operated by payment of a 40p fee – what is already being charged at Silver Street – while disabled users are can continue to use RADAR keys for no charge.

Nine public conveniences will be provide under the new arrangements. The nine are located at:

  •  Acomb, Front Street
  •  Haxby, Main Street
  •  Coppergate
  •  Exhibition Square
  •  Nunnery Lane CP
  •  Silver Street
  •  St George’s Field CP
  •  Tanner Row
  •  Union Terrace

Other public conveniences will close

York marathon faces sprint rival

run to loo

A new York Sprint race is to be held next summer for the first time. The event will aim to find the fastest visitor to the City.

Entrants will be asked to drink 3 pints of lager and will then be given a map of the Councils new network of public conveniences. Contestants will then race to the nearest site.

In line with the publicity for the Lendal bridge closure, recommended routes to the loos will be marked out making full use of the northern by pass.

On arrival 50% of the conveniences will be closed for cleaning.

CCTV cameras will be strapped to the back of each contestant to ensure that they do not cheat.

The entry fee for the contest will be 40p Multiple entries are allowed but will be charged separately.

Entry forms will be available on the Council web site shortly.

NB. The event has no connection with the “brass monkeys” race although the consequences could be similar.

Tang Hall community centre funding probe – Moor Lane Youth Club threatened

Residents in the Tang Hall area are asking why a £10,000 grant made last year for the improvement of the Tang Hall Community Centre has not been spent?

The money was part of the very much reduced budget now made available to Ward Committees.

It was to have been spent on remodelling the Centre, making it potentially easier to generate additional income.

The Centre is one of 4 in the City which are under threat of closure following the decision of the Council to stop its annual support grants.

Tang Hall CC, was at the centre of a controversy earlier in the year, when all the key posts on the management committee were taken over by local Labour Councillors.


LibDem Councillor Ann Reid outside Moor Lane Youth Centre

LibDem Councillor Ann Reid outside Moor Lane Youth Centre

We also understand that the Council is considering closing down the Moor Lane youth centre in Dringhouses.

The well established and popular centre serves the whole of the west of York and is one of very few purpose designed facilities aimed at young people in the City’s suburbs.

£1.66 million costs but no income from Tour De France?

It is scarcely 6 months before the second stage of the Tour de France cycle race is due to set off from York.

However, the Council still hasn’t identified how it will maximise income from the event.

TDF York Council budget, click to enlarge

TDF York Council budget, click to enlarge

The Council has budgeted to spend £1.66 million hosting the event which is taking place on 6th July.

Most will go on crowd control on the day although the organisers have also demanded a £480,000 “hosting fee”

£200,000 will go on road repairs and cleansing, while marketing and publicity will cost £100,000 and “legacy events” £99,000.

However the Council has so far only identified a government grant of £291,000 to offset the costs.

No local sponsorship deals have been identified although it looks like tourism businesses will be the main gainers from the event. There is talk of £88 million being generated for businesses in the region.

The additional income that could be generated from car parking, merchandising, camping etc have also not been identified although £221,000 is being spent on a “project management team”.

The absence of an agreed business plan and any criteria, on which the success or otherwise of the event can be judged, is a major concern.

Old cyclist

In response to a Freedom of Information request the Council says,

“In order to maximise value for money and benefit from appropriate economies of scale an economic impact study will be commissioned (through Leeds City Council) on behalf of all LA districts through which the tour will run. This will cover all three stages including the Cambridge to London stage and will be undertaken in conjunction with partners including all relevant LAs (inc. Cambridge, Essex, and London), Sport England, and Transport for London. The study is expected to provide impact information at a LA level (i.e. we should be able to get specific figures for York).

The detail in terms of the methodology and therefore the assessment criteria and performance indicators associated with the work are currently being developed and therefore we are not in a position to provide these at this time.

It is probable that these will be based on a standard methodology developed by Sport England which typically measures impact based on an assessment of additional visitor spend as determined through on the ground survey work. We are also discussing business survey and/or longitudinal study to measure any catalytic impact on business growth and have an ambition to include aspects of the cycling legacy work being undertaken, as well as some of the more qualitative impacts”.

Many residents would no doubt take the view that the objectives of the project should have been clear long before the Council committed £1.66 million of its scarce resources to underpinning the event.

Bizarrely it seems that some Labour Councillors are unaware of the financial risks of the project.

At the last Council meeting one (Cllr Burton) successfully proposed. “that all income generated for City of York Council from the Tour de France Grand Départ is spent on frontline services for residents

Officials have now confirmed that there is likely to be little or no income from the event which could provide a boost for Council coffers.

The Council taxpayer is likely to be over £1 million out of pocket, with front line public services being the ones to suffer when further budget reductions then become inevitable.

As previously reported, even the less than parsimonious Sheffield Council – where stage 2 finishes on 6th July – is spending much less than York on the Tour.

Some trimming of the costs of the event would seem to be a prudent and urgent necessity for the York Council.

Energise commended by leading quality scheme

Energise Pool

Energise has passed a tough assessment from Sport England’s leading national quality scheme, Quest, in which it scored Excellent. Quest is the most well known improvement programme within the leisure industry and its rigorous assessments challenge even the very best leisure centres in the UK.

In order to achieve Quest Plus, Energise went through a two year process, with a mystery visit and a two day assessment in the first year, and a second mystery visit and one day assessment in the second year.

The mystery visit in year two is particularly challenging as the mystery visitor does not work in the leisure industry.


Dive in to The Swimathon 2014 at York pools


Two York swimming pools are inviting swimmers to get on their marks and sign up to join others nationwide to raise awareness of the benefits of the sport and to fundraise for charity.

Swimmers in York will take the plunge at Energise on Saturday 22 March and Yearsley Pool on Sunday 23 March 2014 as they take on the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon.

There are set distances of 1.5 kilometres, 2.5k or 5k for individuals or you can form a relay squad to take part in the Swimathon with your friends.

Entries are now open, so sign up, get training and help make this an even more successful event than last year.

Entries can be made at http://www.swimathon.org/

Parliament Week to launch with Edna Crichton mini-exhibition

Edna Crichton

Edna Crichton

York’s Libraries and Archives service will be launching Parliament Week 2013, which runs from 15 to 21 November.

The week opens with a mini-exhibition at York Explore Library and Learning Centre looking at York’s first female Lord Mayor, Edna Crichton.

Amongst many other of her life’s stories, the mini-exhibition will place a spotlight on Edna’s first year as Mayor, which was one of the most traumatic in York’s recent history. On the night of 29 April 1942 the city was hit by one of the Baedeker Raids, when 69 bombs rained down on the city with little warning.

The raid resulted in St Martin’s Church on Coney Street being destroyed and the Guildhall suffered a direct hit – when Edna home at the Mansion House at the time.

The programme of events for Parliament Week, which looks to engage residents with Parliamentary Democracy can be picked up from any City of York Council Library or viewed online


Richard III lecture

  • 20th Nov 2013
  • This Parliament Week lecture examines the beginnings of the Council of the North under Richard, the power it wielded, how it was organised, and how it was funded.
  • Location: York Explore
  • Time: 18:30 – 19:30
  • Cost: Free

Before and after the lecture you will have a chance to see the earliest surviving York House Book – the original record of life in York from the period in which Richard was ruling the North of England on behalf of his brother Edward IV. This is a free event but booking is essential. There will be beverages available on the evening. To book a place visit any City of York Library, telephone 01904 55 28 28, or email libraries@york.gov.uk

View the full programme of Parliament Week events.