116 residents sign the “Save the Guildhall” petition

116 residents had signed the “Save the Guildhall” petition when the deadline passed on 24th February.

This makes it the 4 largest ever “on line” petition registered on the Councils web site.

The petition read, “We the undersigned petition the council to ensure that The Guildhall and Mansion House continue to be at the heart of civic and cultural activities in the City, that no attempt be made to downgrade the role, function or public accessibility of the buildings and that any proposals to change the ownership or lease arrangements on any part of the site be subject to full public consultation”.

The petition will now be considered as and when the Councils ruling Labour “cabinet” choose meet to discuss the future of the Guildhall.

A new petition, asking for the Beckfield Lane recycling centre to remain open at least until a replacement has been provided, should be available on the Council’s web site shortly.

Bus usage up in York

Bus usage in York

Bus passenger numbers have increased by 9% in the third quarter of the financial year compared to the same period last year (4,086,429 compared to 3,757,029 in 2010/11). As a result, it is now expected that passenger numbers will meet the annual target of 15 million.

Park & Ride passenger numbers have also increased.

The figures bring into question the Councils decision to spend over £200,000 redesigning the bus network. They plan to “franchise” services in the City. This means that the Council would specify routes, frequencies and fare levels on services against which the bus companies would submit tenders. It is a proposal which could be unaffordable in the new economic climate.

NB. The number of people using car parks in York is also forecast to increase by 3% this year. From April to November this year 1,098,883 people used car parks.

Rugby Training pitch could come to Dringhouses

The Council have announced that they are making £750,000 available for a rugby training and reserve team pitch as part of the £19.2 million Community Stadium project at Monks Cross.

Both the Acorn Rugby Club – located on Thanet Road – and the York College are understood to be amongst 4 organisations which have expressed an interest in providing a site for the pitch. (which will not be located at Monks Cross). The University and the York City AFC training fields on Wigginton Road are the other possible locations.

The Council report on the business case for the new community stadium is now available on their web site.
Labour Councillors are considering borrowing (another) £3 million to revamp the “Waterworld” pool and fitness centre which is understood to be losing money. It is unclear how they propose to repay this loan, given that, last week, additional borrowing of £20 million was arranged to support other capital spending items over the next 5 years.

Thanet Road rugby pitches

North Yorkshire Police mobile safety (speed) camera routes 29 February – 6 March 2012

North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following roads between Wednesday 29 February and Tuesday 6 March 2012. (York area only. Full list on Police web site)

•A64 east-bound carriageway Bowbridge Farm Tadcaster
•Strensall Road, Huntington, York
•A1237 Monks Cross, York
•The Village, Stockton-on-the-Forest, York
•A1036 Malton Road, York
•York Road, Haxby, York
•A64 west-bound carriageway, Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•Broadway, Fulford, York
•Murton Way, Muton, York
•Fordlands Road, Fulford, York

The mobile safety cameras will be in operation at the above sites at various times during the dates stated. Cameras will not be in use on the above routes all day, every day.

Ward Committees consigned to history?

The Council’s cabinet is to receive a report next week which effectively signals the end of public participation in “Ward Committee” meetings. It follows on from a savage budget cut to neighbourhood funding.

The budget for Ward Committee neighbourhood improvement schemes for 2011/12 was £646,000.

The Labour Council budget agreed last week reduced this to £224,000. A cut of 65%.

Now Labour are proposing to divide this money into 3 “pots” with only £75k available for schemes voted a priority by local residents.

Thus, pro rata, a Ward like Dringhouses which has had an annual budget for improvements of around £50,000 a year will find that reduced to about £6,000. This is what residents have voted on each autumn with eh available funds over subscribed usually by a factor of 4. It has been used in the past to address security concerns, provide better fencing, clean up derelict areas, improve play facilities, address parking problems etc.

There will be similar sums “ringfenced” for grants to organisations operating exclusively within a particular ward plus some for cross city voluntary groups. However the amounts likely to be available are derisory.

As with most of the Labour budget, we believe that York residents simply don’t realise yet what is going to hit them.

Mixed signs on local York economy; Average weekly wage now nearly £500.

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The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in York has increased. This is inline with an increase for the region as a whole. A council report confirms:
• Male Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants (3.3%) remain higher than females (1.5%)
• The rate of females claiming JSA is increasing faster than males, but still remains one of the lowest in the region.
• The total number of benefits claimants has decreased in 2011 by 4%, from 12,350 in 2010 to 11,900 now.

5.7% of young people are now classified as “not in education, employment or training” (NEET). That is just less than in North Yorkshire as a whole. It means that the City has one of the lowest youth unemployment levels in the country.

Average weekly pay for city residents is £492.30 for 2011, which is above the regional average. York is still below the national average but the gap has narrowed (now 2.2% below compared with 4.2% in 2010).

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Save Beckfield Lane recycling centre campaign gets timely boost as £3 million bill hits York taxpayers

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The Council has admitted that it is York is “slipping behind other unitary authorities, who have introduced alternative waste management methods and strategies”. This is despite a forecast 2% increase, in the amount of waste recycled by residents, by the end of the year (47.01% compared to 45.1% in 2010/11).

The failure to invest in reuse and salvage, coupled with the pending closure of the Beckfield Lane recycling centre on 10th April, means that taxpayers will pick up a bill for £3 million in landfill tax penalties this year.

The petition to keep the Beckfield Lane facility open is getting good support. Anyone who can help to gather signatures on a petition is asked to contact Reuban Mayne on York 781589

Proposed changes to York Sunday bus services 112 & 113

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Major changes are planned to the Sunday bus services which provide links to Copmanthorpe, Bishopthorpe and Skelton. This results from the decision by Coastliner to discontinue their 112 and 113 services.

The Council are proposing to subsidise 3 new services one of which would route down Tadcaster Road.

Proposed changes
• The Council propose the following option for Sunday services in place of the existing services on routes 112 and 113:
• Provision of an hourly service between Bishopthorpe and the city centre via South Bank on the same route as the weekday route 11.
• Provision of an hourly service between Copmanthorpe and the city centre on the same route as the weekday route 13.
• Provision of an hourly service between Skelton and the city centre on the same route as the weekday route 19.
• No direct services between Skelton, Clifton Moor, Wigginton, Haxby and Monks Cross.
• No services before 10.00 or after 19.00 on these routes.

Comments on the new arrangements by emailing transport.planning@york.gov.uk or writing to Paul Brand, City of York Council, 9 St Leonard’s Place, YORK, YO1 7ET. Please ensure that your comments are received by 2 March 2012.

It is likely that any new routes and services will begin in summer 2012

Make do and mend

Celebrate International Women’s Week and recognise the ingenuity and inventiveness of women through the ages.

This lecture with Meridith Townsend starts right back in the Georgian Period and concentrates on how women altered, borrowed and adapted their clothes to keep up with the latest fashions. It goes on to concentrate on the War Years of the 1940s using anecdotes from women, who came up with the most ingenious ways to keep their families clothed and to continue to celebrate events, such as weddings, in style.

The lecture takes place at Explore York Library Learning Centre 1.30pm to 2.30pm on Sun 4 March – cost £4

For tickets please visit www.feelinginspired.co.uk

Acomb Wood: Welly workout

We will be having a general tidy up of the woodland. We will be cutting back some trees, litter picking and any other little jobs that need completing this spring before everything starts growing again.

Mon 5 Mar, 1pm to 3pm at Acomb Wood

Cost: FREE!

For more information and to book you space please contact Jenny Cairns on 07833 436832 or jennifer.cairns@york.gov.uk. Please come prepared to get muddy. All tools will be provided.