York eleventh in foreign visitor league table

According to new figures published by ONS, York attracted fewer foreign visitors than its neighbour Leeds last year. The City was also behind both Oxford and Cambridge

City visits by foreign visitors 2014

The visitors included those on business trips and well as holidaymakers.

Neither the York Council nor Visit York have as yet commented on the new figures.

There was an increase in the number of visits to the UK by overseas residents for the fourth consecutive year in 2014, and the highest number of visits since the IPS began in 1961. It also had the highest recorded spending.

In 2014 overseas residents made 34.4 million visits to the UK, 5.2% higher than in 2013.

Earnings from visits to the UK reached a record level of spending in the UK of £21.8 billion, they increased by £0.6 billion (2.8%) compared to 2013.

The number of nights spent in the UK rose to 264.6 million, an increase of 7.8% compared to the previous year.

Visits from North America and Europe increased in 2014 by 3.3% and 6.6% respectively. Spending from North America and Europe also grew by 11.6% and 4.2%. However, visits and spending by visitors from “Other Countries” showed a decline of 0.2% and 2.9% respectively.

Holidays remain the main reason for visits to the UK, accounting for 13.6 million visits, a rise of 7.2% compared with 2013. Business visits and visits to friends and family both showed a growth of 4.8%.

A record 17.4 million overnight visits to London were made by overseas residents in 2014, an increase of 0.6 million (3.5%) from 2013, and £11.8 billion was spent on these visits.

Overnight visits to the rest of England grew by 5.1% to 14.2 million. Visits to Scotland and Wales also continued to rise in 2014, with Scottish visits up 11.5% and Welsh up 7.3%.

UK residents made 4.0% more visits abroad and spent £1.0 billion (3.0%) more during these visits in 2014 than 2013. The length of visit also increased, up 1.9% to 616.5 million nights.

York Business Improvement District – last chance

The Council’s Cabinet will tomorrow agree to spend £25,000 on a second attempt to establish a “business improvement district” (BID) in the central part of York.

It is 10 years since the first attempt was made. BIDs require the support of the majority of businesses in an area if they are to be able to use supplementary rate income to fund economic regeneration initiatives.

A decade ago, a similar scheme failed to gain widespread support and was abandoned.

 At the time, several of the national chains (who exercise a large number of votes in any ballot) refused to participate in the scheme, while the Council had taken steps to freeze (and at Fossgate reduce) parking charges – so there was less incentive for change.

In addition the City centre was generally trading well – as it is today. There are relatively few empty shops in the core area and the latest footfall figures show number increasing (which is what you  would expect as the country emerges from recession)

The imitative has come in the wake of the 3 “free” parking morning’s initiative which was funded through S106 contributions from a development at Monks Cross. That funding ends soon and the Council last week agreed to a Green party proposal to a general increase in car parking charges. The background, therefore, maybe one of the “perfect storm” with several marginal businesses in the City centre likely to feel the pinch.

In 2007, the BID project was led by an experienced manager who had done similar schemes successfully elsewhere.

This time the former editor of The Press newspaper is likely to be in charge.

The business case is unconvincing at least  in so far as it fails to debate what has changed, over the last 10 years, which could result in the majority of business now voting for an initiative which would increase the amount they pay in Business Rates.

The Council says that, if successful, the BID would expect to generate an additional £800,000 a year which would be spent on “an improved city centre environment in terms of public realm, security, increased footfall, events and cleanliness

Record numbers of part time jobs in York

With the numbers claiming job seekers allowance in the City at a low level, the York Council has admitted that the numbers in part time employment are at record high levels.

Numbers of York residents in part time employment

Numbers of York residents in part time employment

The proportion (33%) in part time jobs is higher that either the regional (26.3%) or nation (25.3%) averages.

To a degree the figure may reflect the transient nature of the tourism sector of the York economy while many students in the City do actively seek out part time employment and shared jobs.

Nevertheless there has been a significant shift in working profiles over the last 4 years.

The numbers in employment in the City are still fewer than in 2011 (contrary to the national trend) and it will be 2020 before pre recession employment levels in the City are seen again

Challenged at the last Council meeting about the shortage in the social care sector the former Council Leader commented that,

“there is an ageing workforce, with expertise leaving the sector and increasing demand for services, all of which is putting pressure on the delivery of quality care services.

Looking at the shortage of key workers in social care is a focus for the transformation of adult social care which includes the following proposals:

  • for recruitment and retention of key workers in York and what the council could contribute/enable; and
  • for how CYC’s Workforce strategy could be amended to support the recruitment of key workers


This work is at a relatively early stage but will be progressed by the relevant Cabinet Members”

So it looks like things may get worse before they get better in the Social Care sector with job vacancies in other areas – such as construction and retail – also increasingly difficult to fill.

York to get Ultra-Fast Broadband


The news that Sky/TalkTalk are to launch an ultrafast broadband service in the City, possibly as early as next year, is welcome.

The high speeds on offer will be a boon to businesses in the City particularly those in the technology reliant sectors.

It may also provide a boost for “home workers”.

The City has many broadband providers but the domestic market is dominated by the BT network and Virgin.

Virgin in particular provides a high speed service – shortly to increase to 150 mps in some areas – which most leisure/domestic users will find adequate. It comes at a price though.

Competition is generally good for the consumer.

There may, however, be some downsides.

Unless the new network provider – CityFibre – can utilise existing utility ducts, we could be in for another period of damaged footpaths. NTL (Virgins predecessor) didn’t win many friends as it ploughed up the City’s streets nearly 20 years ago.

And pricing will be important. Commercial users will take a hardnosed approach.

Residents living in the suburbs and villages around York may, however, find that the market simply couldn’t fund the new infrastructure at this point in time.

We will see.

In the meantime the Council Leadership is promising “citywide” coverage.


Vince Cable launches York Business Survey

Vince Cable launching York Business survey

Vince Cable launching York Business survey


York born Business Secretary Vince Cable visited the city on Saturday to officially launch a major new business survey.

The Liberal Democrat survey looks at how local businesses can be supported and what more can be done to encourage employers to take on apprentices. It also asks businesses for their views on the Labour run Council’s decision to close Lendal Bridge and issues such as tax, barriers to taking on new staff and the impact of EU membership. The survey will initially be delivered to over 500 businesses across York in the coming weeks.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, commented:

“I am delighted to support this effort to engage with local businesses in York. It is crucial that we listen to what employers are saying and ensure that everything is being done to support businesses locally as well as understanding the impact on the ground of national issues.

Speaking on the efforts to encourage employers to take-on apprentices, Vince Cable commented:

“Apprenticeships are one of this Government’s top priorities. Practical, technical and vocational skills should be valued as equals to academic achievement. Since 2010 1.2 million new apprenticeships have helped young people into work including over 4,000 in York. We need to continue this progress by highlighting successful schemes and by understanding what more can be done to encourage local employers to take on apprentices.”

As part of the survey the York Lib Dems will be establishing a new Local Business Forum. This will give employers in York an opportunity to discuss the local economy and the impact of City of York Council policies.

Jobless down again both locally and nationally

The number of people claiming Jobs Seekers Allowance (JSA) in York has again fallen.

The Office for National Statistics have released figures today stating that there are 2195 claimants in York, a fall of 122 from last month and of 872 since October 2012.

National unemployment trends click to enlarge

National unemployment trends click to enlarge

The claimant count represents 1.6% of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 3.9%.

The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 3%.

The change though reflects the national economic recovery.

Nationally the number of people in work has increased by 378,000 in the last year to a record breaking 29.95m according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) today.

The unemployment rate has also fallen to 7.6%, down 0.2%.

Today’s figures also show that unemployment has fallen by 48,000 in the last year, and long term unemployment has dropped by 19,000 in the last three months.

The number of young people in work has increased by 50,000 over the last three months, and youth unemployment has dropped by 13,100.

Commenting, Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee for Work and Pensions, Greg Mulholland, said:

“This is another encouraging sign that the economy is recovering.

“Today’s figures show the total number of people in employment is now at a record high, with the rise being driven by a growth in full-time and permanent jobs.

“The Liberal Democrats in Government have helped business create more than a million private sector jobs, and now we are working to help create a million more.

“This recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats in Government.

“There is a long way to go, but the economy is on the mend and jobs are crucial to building a stronger economy and a fairer society that allows everyone to get on in life.”

Coalition government announce further drop in jobless numbers


The number of people claiming Jobs Seekers Allowance (JSA) in York has again fallen, representing the largest decrease in the claimant count in seven years between June and July.

The Office for National Statistics have released figures today stating that there are 2490 claimants in York, a decrease of 61 from last month and of 758 from July 2012. The claimant count represents 1.9% of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 4.4%. The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 3.5%.

Generally full employment is achieved when unemployment levels fall below 2%. This recognises the number of people who at any time are “between jobs”.

Even allowing for workers who are currently economically inactive (but not claiming JSA), it raises further questions about Labours Local Plan which aims to increase the number of job by 1000 a year (net).

The Local Plan hyper economic growth targets have been criticised as likely to lead to large scale inward migration into the City or unsustainable commuting levels.