“Dig in” at Cornlands Road park

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“Dig in” Cornlands Road park
The next time the Dig In team will be at the Cornlands playground site will be Saturday 25th February 10:30am – 12:30pm, this is the first gardening group gathering. They will be finalising the design for the garden and also sowing some seeds in pots that can be taken home and nurtured then brought back to the garden to transplant in April.

The next big free family event is on Saturday 7th April. (See poster right)


Liberal Democrat Councillors are leading a fight against the Labour Cabinet’s proposals to have vital meetings on key decisions about York’s future held behind closed doors. Cllr Ian Cuthbertson made clear at the Council’s Audit and Governance meeting last night (13/2/2012) that the Lib Dems would not stand to see Cabinet Members’ public accountability abandoned without a fight.

Labour’s plans would see public Cabinet Member Decision Sessions being abolished to be replaced by meetings held behind closed doors. That would mean crucial decisions being made with only Labour’s Cabinet members and Council bosses in the room. Cllr Cuthbertson argued that such proposals exclude members of the public.

He said “These plans show a blatant disregard for public opinion. If members of the public can’t be present and make representations when individual Cabinet members decide things, the door is open to more secret decision-making and less accountability. Labour’s Cabinet seem determined to keep local residents in the dark and sideline opposition councillors.”

The Labour Cabinet has argued that savings can be made by removing sessions in which Cabinet members make their plans clear in public. However, Cllr Cuthbertson argues that allowing the public to be present and make representations if they wish this matter is a small price to pay if the Council is to be seen to act in an open and transparent way. Officers have been asked to review the proposals and to re-present them, including a means by which members of the public can be present and speak at such decision-making sessions if they wish.

Cllr Cuthbertson said: “We recognise that the Council needs to save time and ensure that things are done efficiently, but decision-making sessions need to be held in public when the public request it. Although it seems that a relatively small number of such public sessions would be needed to ensure transparency, we believe that democracy should not be threatened in this way.”

“Local Liberal Democrats want to see more openness and accountability but it seems that the Labour cabinet think differently. We will look out for the amended proposals and will continue to fight to ensure that Cabinet members are accountable to York’s residents who, after all, elected them.”


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Councillors have reacted angrily as it has been revealed that the Labour budget will target 20% cuts at voluntary sector organisations that work with some of York’s most vulnerable residents. The revelations became apparent as Lib Dem spokesperson for Social Inclusion Cllr Ayre looked deeper at cuts labelled “review of grant funding to voluntary sector organisations to improve the efficiency of administration.”

Cllr Ayre said, “In reality this is the worst kind of cut. To describe the proposals as an efficiency saving is intentionally misleading. The council administers two funds to the voluntary sector totalling £340k and Labour’s plan is to cut this funding by £81,000. This cut is nearer 25% than the 8% Labour have claimed in the newspapers.”

“The list of people who will be affected by this are a list of some of the most vulnerable in our society including the Family Mediation Service, Older Citizens Advocacy, Relate, Snappy, the Welfare Benefits Unit, York Citizens Advice Bureau, York CVS, York Credit Union and YREN. To target these with some of the most severe cuts shows Labour’s claims to be placing fairness and inclusion at the heart of their budget are a sham.”

Further investigation of this budget saving has revealed that none of the affected groups have yet been informed of the proposals and may be unaware that they face drastic cuts and possibly even complete loss of funding all together.

Cllr Ayre said “Labour have hidden this budget from the public for as long as possible and now we can see why. They are trying to hide savage cuts with misleading reports in the hope the short timescale will prevent scrutiny. Cutting more than £80,000 of funding to the voluntary sector is not a matter of efficiency. Labour are choosing to remove funding from groups that work with the most vulnerable people in our city.”

Cllr Ayre has been contacting affected groups to alert them to the proposals.

Acomb Council branch office to close on 28th February

The Council has confirmed that its Acomb office will close to customers on Tuesday 28 February at 5pm.

Some new advice sessions are starting on Monday 13 February. They are, however, a wholly inadequate substitute for the branch office which was open 5 days a week.

The advice sessions will run as follows:
Mondays, Gateway Centre, Front Street, YO24 3BN
Housing advice and Council Tax and Housing benefits service: 9am – 3pm

Wednesdays, Foxwood Community Centre, Cranfield Place, YO24 3HY
Housing advice and Council Tax and Housing benefits service: 9am – 12 noon

Thursdays, Sanderson Court Community House, Bramham Road, Chapelfields, YO26 5AS
Housing advice and Council Tax and Housing benefits service: 9am – 12 noon

Fridays, Acomb Explore Library Learning Centre, Front Street, YO24 3BN
Council Tax and Housing Benefits service: 9am – 1pm

Fridays, Moor Lane Youth Centre, Wains Road, YO24 2TX
Housing advice: 1pm – 4pm

A homeless support worker from York Housing Association will join the Monday morning sessions at the Gateway Centre from 27 February between 9.30am and 11.30am.

Online services for housing at www.york.gov.uk/housing/ and housing benefits advice at www.york.gov.uk/advice/Benefits/ will continue and residents can have free use of computers, internet access and support from staff at Acomb Explore.

Face-to-face help and advice will also continue at the council’s customer service centre at Library Square and advice on the phone can be requested for benefits on 01904 551556 and for housing on 01904 551200 (option 2).

Acomb Council Office closing in 2 weeks

New mountain bike challenge opens

York’s off-road cyclists can gear up for City of York Council’s new mountain biking area opening at Rawcliffe Country Park on Friday 17 February.

A series of exciting and challenging jumps, banks and turns will challenge all levels of mountain bikers, and the 70 metre inner circuit and the easier 140 metre outer track are linked to each other and the rest of the park.

The scheme is part of the Big Lottery play programme that also funded the climbing boulders at Rawcliffe Country Park.

During the big launch day people can wheel or walk along for:

• Riding skills courses for 8 – 14 year olds from 10am-3pm (must be booked in advance with Grit Track and Trail at info@grittrackandtrail.co.uk)
• Local shops offering bike servicing and freebies
• Top local riders giving advice and showing their skills
• Activities for bikes from sustainable transport charity Sustrans and the council.

The opening will form part of Sustrans’ Big Pedal warm-up week, and is part of a programme of activities and events held at York Explore throughout half term. For a leaflet contact Sustrans’ Info and Ride Booking line: 07824 998745 or email naomi.wellssmith@sustrans.org.uk

City of York Council Local Development Framework – Core Strategy Submission

The Council is intending to submit the LDF Core Strategy to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for independent examination on Tuesday 14th February 2012.

Following Submission on the 14th all of the Core Strategy Submission documents sent to the Secretary of State will be available to view online via the Council’s website at:

In addition, paper copies of the Submission documents will be placed at the following locations:
• Guildhall Reception (Mon to Fri – 8.30am-5pm)
• CYC 9 St Leonard’s Place (Mon to Fri – 8.30am-5pm)

City of York Council’s Library Square Reception will hold a reference copy of CD1 Core Strategy Submission-Publication (Sept 2011) (Mon to Fri – 8.30am-5pm).

What’s on in York

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More information
Minster http://www.yorkminster.org/calendar/ tel. 0844 939 0015
York Theatre Royal info@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk tel (01904) 623568
York Barbican http://www.yorkbarbican.co.uk tel. 0844 854 2757
Grand Opera House www.grandoperahouseyork.org.uk tel. 0844 847 2322
Visit York http://www.visityork.org/ tel. 01904 550099
Yortime www.yortime.org.uk

Feathering your nest?

As part of National Nest Box week come and make a home for the birds to nest in this spring – all for FREE!

Friday 17 Feb, 10.30am to 12noon at Little Hob Moor, Acomb

Open to all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please book your place contact Jenny Cairns on 07833 436832 or Jennifer.cairns@york.gov.uk

If you go down to the woods today….

Come down to Acomb Woods on Tues 14 Feb, 10.30am to 12noon and meet new friends and join in with the many activities for FREE.

No need to bring anything, just come prepared to get muddy!

Open to all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Please book your space by contacting Jenny Cairns on 07833 436832 or Jennifer.cairns@york.gov.uk.

Where the cuts will bite 4. Discretionary rate relief.

Local organisations getting DRR last year. Double click to enlarge

Over 100 local organisations receive rate relief on premises that they occupy in the City. An 80% discount is available under national legislation but the local Council can increase this to 100% if they choose to.

This 20% is known as “discretionary rate relief”.

Organisations must be non-profit making. The level of their revenue reserves must not be in excess of:
– 10 times the amount of the gross rates payable, or
– £10,000
(whichever is the higher).

Organisations must be primarily for the benefit of people who live or work in York.

The Council is proposing to reduce the budget available for this discretionary relief by £54,000 with effect from April 2013.

At the moment 103 organisations qualify for relief, they cover a wide range of organisations many of which are charities. They include sports, leisure, scouting and educational bodies.

In total, in excess of £200,000 was rebated last year.

Amongst the qualifying organisations are the Foxwood Community Centre, the Acomb Bowling Club, the Dringhouses Sports & Social Club, York Indoor Bowls and Social Club and the Acomb Sports Club.

The Council, have not indicated which organisations they intend to target but Labour in the past have hit organisations which are not registered as charities. Sports bodies with clubrooms are thought to be particularly vulnerable to losing the relief.