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Heworth Labour councillor Tina Funnell has outlined concerns into the way ward funding is handled in York.

The scheme, which gives ward committees and local councillors cash to spend on projects in their areas, was re-introduced into York when the Tory/Lib Dem coalition took over from Labour in 2015.

And Cllr Funnell, who led a scrutiny team investigating the programme, said: 'Councillors recognise the potential benefits of having funds to spend locally, but the structures are hard to navigate.

'There are some real concerns about how we can ensure this money is well spent and that we are doing it in the most effective way, despite the goodwill to try and make it work.'

The money available for 216-17 - including funds carried over - varies from £13,670 for Fulford and Heslington, to £108,000 in Micklegate. Some areas have plans to use all their money, others, such as Hull Road, had allocated less than a fifth by January 2016.

Cllr Funnell, speaking at a meeting of the city council executive last Thursday, said the funding system puts significant responsibility on councillors to make sure the money is spent well.

The scrutiny team quizzed people involved with one senior voluntary sector worker saying that allocating significant sums through a system not all members bought into was "a perfect storm".

Cllr Funnell's scrutiny team's report made eight recommendations to improve the programme, including training for councillors, ways of sharing best practice, and more staff time available to support.

While the executive accepted some of the recommendations, they refused to make the training mandatory and said councillors could decide to spend some of their funds on extra support.

Ward Funding

Heworth Labour councillor Tina Funnell has outlined concerns into the way ward funding is handled in York.

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A Labour councillor has highlighted the local disparity in pay between men and women in York on International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day (IWD), held on 8th March, marked a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women.
 
Councillors on the council’s Economic Development and Transport (EDAT) Scrutiny Committee yesterday received local performance indicators on wages, including the gender pay gap.
 
Labour Councillor for Clifton, Danny Myers asked that City of York Council recognises the astonishing rise in the gender pay gap in the city over the past year and develops policies to reverse the trend.  Latest data shows the gap having risen from just over £85 gross weekly pay last year to women now earning over £120 less per week than men in York this year.
 
While the gender pay gap reflects overall earnings between women and men, in York the gap is much wider than the national gap of £100 gross weekly pay.
 
Cllr. Myers said:
 
'In 2011, the Gender Pay Gap in York was £53.90, now six years on the gap has more than doubled to £120.20, meaning that women earn significantly less than men in our city.
 
'We need to take a serious look at what is driving a low wage economy here in York more than other parts of the UK and act. These low wages disproportionately impact women.
 
'The Council has to look at the implications for women locally of both its own, as well as the Government’s decisions, and look to develop economic policies that stop the hammer falling on women’s take-home pay.'

International Women's Day

A Labour councillor has highlighted the local disparity in pay between men and women in York on International Women’s Day.

Labour volunteers took part in the city’s annual Big Spring Clean over the weekend as they set to the task of litter picking on the well used former Manor School playing fields on Boroughbridge Road.

Volunteers clean up former Manor School playing fields

Acomb Labour councillor Stuart Barnes led a team of volunteers which included York Central MP Rachael Maskell, cleaning up the former playing fields, a green space well used by local residents in the area.
 
Cllr. Barnes has been working to secure the former school playing fields as designated open green space for the community to enjoy in the future, given the lack of such space in Acomb ward.
 
Cllr. Barnes said 'I was delighted that our MP, Rachael Maskell, was able to join us for the litter pick and help ensure that this popular area with the public is in a good state as we head into Spring.
 
'I remain firmly committed to securing the area as a green space for public enjoyment as at present, it technically remains off limits to the public. This is a bit of a joke as the litter pick on Saturday collected bags and bags of rubbish so clearly people are using the field.
 
'Meanwhile, the Council’s ludicrous position of pretending the site isn’t open to the public means that we can’t install rubbish or dog-waste bins, despite the big problem with dog waste on the site. Nor can we begin planning to have children’s play equipment, outdoor gym equipment or sports use approved or installed on the site. 
 
'Whatever the council’s excuses, it’s ultimately Acomb residents who are losing out, and holding the litter-pick on the fields was a good way of highlighting the issue and the Council’s pretence that the site isn’t being used. I suppose it was a minor act of civil disobedience designed to both get the place cleaned up and encourage the Conservative-led Council to do the right thing and get the fields opened up with decent facilities installed.
 
'Despite more than 540 residents signing a petition, it seems that there is no political will on the part of the Conservative-led Council to do the right thing.'
 
The Press reported in December that Cllr. Barnes had asked for options to be explored including consulting with local residents when the petition was considered by the then Conservative executive member, Cllt. Chris Steward. At that time, the request was ignored with the Council instead sticking to its position that the site remains ‘off limits’ to residents, with no approval for work to begin for establishing a public space.  
 
'This is hugely disappointing and a real let down for local people', commented Cllr. Barnes. 'I made representations to Cllr. Steward, the former Executive Member who formally received the petition at a decision making session in December.
 
'Sadly, the will was clearly not there. I hope by persisting I will get a better response from his successor, the council leader. If Cllr. Carr won’t support progressing public space status for the site, then it sends a very clear signal to Acomb residents that local amenity is less important for them than it is for residents elsewhere in the city.'

Labour volunteers tackle ‘off limits’ playing fields as part of Big Spring Clean

Labour volunteers took part in the city’s annual Big Spring Clean over the weekend as they set to the task of litter picking on the well used former Manor School...

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