York libraries to help with planning applications

Acomb Explore Library

Acomb Explore Library

A new service is being introduced at York Libraries to help residents who are submitting planning applications for extensions or loft conversions to their properties.

Residents are now able to walk in to three York libraries (York, Acomb and Tang Hall).with their address and postcode details and can purchase specially printed site plans and location plans of their properties. These two documents are often needed when submitting planning applications to the council.


Dringhouses Library – Freedom of Information revelation

Dringhouses Library

Dringhouses Library

A freedom of information request  has revealed that the Dringhouses Library building was gifted to the Council in 1942 for use only as a “Library or for other public uses”.

The revelation comes at a time when there are increasing concerns about the future of small libraries.

The Labour Councils decided to cut the libraries budget by £250,000 in 2013/14 and a further £150,000 in the forthcoming financial year.

The library service is now in the hands of an independent social enterprise trust which is currently looking to appoint new Directors

There will be an Open Evening at Acomb Explore, Front Street, Acomb, on Wednesday 12 March from 4pm – 6 pm, for anybody who would like to learn more. The management team and other Explore directors will be in attendance and able to answer questions. The person specification and role information for the new posts and can be found here.

To express interest in becoming a Community Director or the Finance Director of Explore, email fiona.williams@york.gov.uk by 24 March 2014.

Today (Thursday) is world book day


Children and young people across York are being urged to join the celebrations for World Book Day (Thursday 6 March).


World Book Day is a worldwide celebration of books and reading, marked in over 100 countries all over the world. This year marks the 17th World Book Day and nurseries, toddler groups, children’s centres and schools across the city are getting involved, with a variety of activities such as guest story tellers and book-themed dressing-up.

Youngsters travelling on First York’s number six route (Tang Hall to Clifton) will be able to get involved by reading books which will be available on the buses on World Book Day. The books have been kindly loaned by City of York Council’s Explore Library Learning Centres.

And, visitors to City of York Council’s West Offices will be able to drop in to the main foyer where a ‘comfy’ reading area will be available for families and children and members of the council’s Early Years team will be on hand to read stories.

Visit the World Book Day website (http://www.worldbookday.com/) to find out more about encouraging children to read.


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.

Council’s Christmas opening hours – last chance to get a library book!

Mansion House Christmas

The council’s main offices at West Offices and Hazel Court will be closed as usual on the Christmas period bank holidays – Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The offices will close an hour early, at 4pm, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

There will be plenty of opportunity to keep fit and healthy over the festive period at Energise and Yearsley Pool. Energise is open over Christmas except for the usual bank holidays, closing at 1:30pm Christmas Eve. It will be closed on 1 and 2 January, closing at 1:30pm on New Year’s Eve. Yearsley Pool closes at 4pm on Christmas Eve and opens on Sunday 29 December. It will close on New Year’s Eve at 4:30pm until Thursday 2 January.

All libraries will close over Christmas and New Year. York Explore will close for Christmas at 4pm on Sunday 22 December with all other libraries at their usual closing time on Saturday 21 December. All libraries will be open as usual from Thursday 2 January, except York Explore which will re-opens at 9am on Friday 3 January.

Out-of-hours and emergency contact numbers can be found at http://www.york.gov.uk/ or by calling 01904 551550. Alternatively, please follow @cityofyork on Twitter or @yorkgritter for up-to-date information.
City of York Council tenants who require emergency repairs out of office hours should call 01904 630405.

The Emergency Duty Team for Social Care can be contacted outside office hours only by telephone: 0845 034 9417, or by email: edt@northyorks.gov.uk.

For all other emergencies call 01904 625751.

Residents anger over todays Library closures

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The York Council is being heavily criticised by residents for not notifying local media about today’s library closures.

Although the closure – which is allowing staff to have a conference about the pending privatisation of the service – is mentioned on the Councils web site, many users have not noticed it.

Some are obviously seething after wasted journeys.

They are venting their disappointment by writing advice about good communications on the closure notice that has been posted on the library door today.

The privatisation move – which we believe does not enjoy widespread support either from staff or customers – is the brainchild of Cllr Crisp. Her report to tomorrows Council meeting also pointedly omits to mentions todays closures.

NB. User numbers at 14 of York’s 15 libraries has reduced since Cllr Crisp took responsibility for them.


The Council is also saying that its electronic “report it” system may not be working this week.