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North Yorkshire County Council
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This year, 94 per cent of parents or carers of primary age children secured their first school preference in North Yorkshire.

The figure is fractionally lower than last year's 94.6 per cent but higher than most places in the country.

All children have received the offer of a place out of 5,909 applying, a lower cohort than last year's 6,504.

"We are very pleased that so many of our families have once again been able to gain their first preference from their choice of schools", said County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools. "We wish all the children starting primary school in September all the best and hope they will enjoy their education in North Yorkshire schools."
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As the spring and summer season for farm visits gets under way, the county council’s public health team has issued a reminder of the importance of good hand hygiene, particularly for children,  to avoid picking up infections.

It is important for anyone visiting a petting farm to wash their hands thoroughly using liquid soap and warm running water and to dry them with disposable paper towels after they have handled or been near animals. It is particularly important to wash hands before eating.  

In all, there are about two million visits each year to the 1,000-plus farm attractions in the UK, with peak visits during school and public holidays.

Over the past 20 years, an average of 80 cases of cryptosporidium infection linked to visits to petting farms have been reported to Public Health England each year. 

Cryptosporidium is one of a number of bugs that can be picked up at a petting farm. Other common infections are caused by e.coli O157 and salmonella. Cases of e.coli O157 linked to farm attractions are at their highest between June and October.

People generally become infected in one of two ways – by touching animals in the petting and feeding areas or by coming into contact with animal droppings on contaminated surfaces. The bacteria can be passed on by putting hands on faces or fingers in mouths before washing them thoroughly. It takes only a small number of the bacteria to cause infection. 

Visitors to farms are advised not to rely on hand rubs and wipes for protection, as these do not work against the sort of germs found on farms. Children should be closely supervised to ensure they wash their hands properly, as they are more at risk of serious illness.

“It’s a great experience for families to visit our wonderful farms,” said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for public health. “By following simple hygiene when visiting petting farms, people can ensure that their visit is both enjoyable and safe.”

The public health team has produced a factsheet, Avoiding Infection on Farm Visits, which offers guidance and information. 
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A new park and ride service aimed at alleviating traffic congestion and making life easier for visitors and residents in Whitby will open on Good Friday.

The service is being provided by North Yorkshire County Council as part of its commitment to ensuring the continued prosperity of communities around the county – and to alleviating the problems of traffic congestion which have plagued Whitby for many years.

“I very much welcome the opening of this long-anticipated scheme,” said County Councillor Joe Plant, the divisional member for Whitby Streonshalh. “Tourism is the key to Whitby’s continued prosperity, and making it much easier for visitors to get into and out of the town without clogging up the highways network and without making the daily life of the residents more difficult is a major step forward.

“I am particularly pleased that we have been able to meet our aim of introducing the service in time for the Easter weekend – traditionally a very busy period.”

Although the bus service will be operational from Friday 18 April with approximately 230 parking spaces, there is work to complete on the terminal building and the overflow car park at the park and ride site.  Temporary facilities, such as toilets, will be available until the building work is finished.

To ensure residents, businesses and visitors to Whitby have the best awareness of the forthcoming new parking restrictions at Sandsend seafront and in Whitby town, and to allow them to obtain any permits to which they may be entitled, the new restrictions will not take effect next Friday.  Instead, they will be introduced on Thursday 1 May 2014.

From Good Friday until 30 April, information notices will be issued to motorists parking within the streets that are due to become pay and display or disc/permit parking, explaining the changes and giving information on where to obtain parking discs.  The discs allow free parking for one or two hours.  Parking permits will give businesses, residents and holiday accommodation guests exemption from the restrictions.

Changes proposed for one-way streets in Whitby will not take place at Easter, but will take place before the school summer holidays. Crescent Place will be changed to two-way, and East Terrace and part of North Terrace (between East Terrace and Esplanade) will be changed to one-way anti-clockwise.  This is to allow the parking on East Terrace and part of North Terrace to be arranged diagonally to the kerb, which will increase the number of parking spaces.

The A171 Guisborough Road will be closed at the new roundabout so final surfacing work can be carried out at the junction with the B1460 overnight from 8pm on Monday 14 April and will re-open by 6am on Tuesday 15 April.  A temporary diversion route will be signposted via the A169, the B1440 The Carrs and B1416 Ruswarp Bank.
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85% of the residents voted against this scheme. It's unwanted, unpopular. Smacks yet again, of Scarborough Council's jealously of Whitby's popularity. 
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North Yorkshire County Council's Executive has agreed to take forward proposals for two sets of school mergers in Scarborough involving the coming together of infant and junior schools to create all-through primary schools.

Councillors backed the publishing of statutory notices for Gladstone Road Infant and Junior Schools and for Barrowcliff Infant and Junior Schools, for both to become all-through primary schools in September. Final decisions will be taken in June.

As Brian Robinson, Gladstone Road Junior School's headteacher, will retire at the end of the school year, governors had decided it was time to examine options for the future of both schools. Governors, staff, parents and the local authority believe an all-through school will be of greatest benefit to children, ensuring the continuity of their education from early years through to 11.

"We have been in discussion with the Gladstone Road schools about working more closely together for some time," said County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools: "We all share the same aspirations; to ensure that children in the area have the best educational experience they can, and achieve the best they can.

Barrowcliff Infant and Junior Schools have been successfully federated for some years, so it seemed a natural step to seek to merge and to create an all-through school.

"Schools look for the best arrangements to secure the highest standards in teaching and learning," Cllr Barker said. "We are encouraged that they have arrived at this point."
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Apply online for bus passes

First-time applicants for older people’s concessionary bus passes are being encouraged to apply online.

The online application will take just a few minutes, and applicants find out immediately if they are eligible.  

To apply for a pass online, applicants need the following information to hand:
a valid email address; 
a passport or driving licence; and 
a digital passport quality photo available on the computer/device from which the application is being made.

Please note that although the online service is currently available only to people applying for a pass for the first time, there are plans to extend it so that existing pass-holders can renew an expiring pass online, or can request and pay for a replacement for a lost or damaged pass.
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Controversial proposals for the future of maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton are to be referred for a second time for consideration by the NHS Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

In a letter to the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council's Scrutiny of Health Committee today, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, says he has agreed to a request by the committee that the proposals should be examined again. He has asked the panel to complete an initial assessment by 15 May.

"This is excellent news," said the chairman of the Scrutiny of Health Committee, County Councillor Jim Clark.

"We were afraid that the Secretary of State might have refused to refer the proposals, on the grounds that they have already been examined once by the Panel.

"But the fact that he has done so as a result of our representations is extremely gratifying. And the fact that he has asked the Panel to carry out the initial assessment within little more than a month is an indication that he believes this to be a matter of some urgency."

The NHS proposal to end consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage has caused a great deal of controversy in many parts of North Yorkshire. Among those protesting about the plan are the MP for Richmond, William Hague.
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The council is to set a schools capital programme of at least £58m over three years to create extra school places and maintain school improvement.

The county council's Executive has approved an £18.29m programme for additional places and school improvement priorities for the current financial year. A further £39.3m programme is to be approved later in the year for 2015/16 and 2016/17 specifically for the provision of additional school places. Further sums will be earmarked for school maintenance through to 2017.

The £18m programme will address the following priorities:

providing new school places in areas of growth;
supporting school improvement and collaboration between schools;
maintaining the condition of the school estate;
upgrading or creating kitchen facilities in preparation for universal infant free school meals in September.
The county council has already created an additional 900 school places in 24 schools, largely primary, which will come on stream in September. A further 230 places will be added to six primary schools in the county up to 2015. It is also proposed to make a start on the development of a wholly new primary school to serve the Staynor Hall development in Selby.

The county council estimates that over the next five years it will need to create between 2,500 and 3,000 places due to an increase in the birth rate and major housing developments in urban parts of North Yorkshire.

County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools, said: "The county council obviously faces significant challenges in the creation of additional school places, in maintaining the fabric of school buildings and in creating improvements in facilities to support high standards of teaching and learning.

"As an authority we have one of the largest numbers of schools in the country and as the country's largest rural authority we must address complex issues in planning for additional school places. However, we are confident that the capital programme we have set today will go a long way to supporting our immediate capital priorities.

"We welcome the opportunity to use the additional £40m provided by the Government to provide facilities for additional school places in subsequent years."
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North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to take forward proposals to close Richard Thornton's Church of England Primary School from 31 August 2014.

The Burton in Lonsdale school currently has just 12 pupils on roll, all boys.

The governing body previously consulted on closure in October 2013 but stopped after the local community expressed a strong wish for the school to remain open. Governors therefore asked the county council to defer a consultation on closure for 12 months to give time to investigate alternative options.

Governors have proposed a shared headteacher role with a partner school, and integrating the Burton in Lonsdale under-5s pre-school more closely into the school.

However, while the county council appreciates the governors' commitment to the school and school community, the council remains concerned about whether these proposals would be financially viable, whether they would build up pupil numbers and how readily they could be implemented.

The number of children at Richard Thornton's has been falling steadily over the last few years and there are now only 12 on roll in a school with a capacity for 90. Forecasts indicate that these numbers will not recover significantly in the longer term. Under the current staffing structure, the school would need to have at least 29 pupils on roll to be financially sustainable. The school is predicting a budget deficit for 2014/15 of nearly £30,000, which will worsen in the following years if pupils do not increase

As numbers fall it becomes increasingly difficult, even with existing local school partnerships, to provide pupils with the full range of experiences they need, particularly opportunities for working and playing with children of their own age, and for having a good gender balance. It also becomes increasingly difficult to preserve the quality and breadth of education required.

Moreover, it is feared that any decision to defer closure for 12 months would be likely to precipitate a further reduction in numbers.

The county council therefore has decided to publish statutory notices on 17 April allowing four weeks for further representation. A final decision on school closure will be taken on 27 May.

County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools, said: "The closure of any school, and in particular one which serves a small and rural community, is always deeply regrettable and not one which is reached lightly or hurriedly. North Yorkshire works extremely hard to support its small schools, but pupil numbers at Richard Thornton's Church of England Primary School have reached a critical level and in such circumstances we have to consider the necessity of providing pupils with the full range of social and educational experiences they need."
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A government minister visited North Yorkshire County Council last week to look at the innovative practice in protecting vulnerable children and providing them with outstanding opportunities.

Edward Timpson, the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, has been clear that local authorities must do everything they can to protect the most vulnerable children in our society and should look to innovate to improve standards while meeting spending pressures.

As the son of a foster family – his parents have fostered over 87 children over the last 30 years and he has two adopted younger brothers – he knows first-hand the huge challenges vulnerable children face but also the huge scope for turning lives around.

For that reason he met some of the local authority’s looked after children and foster carers to learn of their experiences and talked to senior officers about the targeted work to help children and families taking place across the county.  He also learnt about the planned transformation of the children and young people’s service to carry out more focused preventative work with those who face the greatest social and educational challenges.

The minister was greeted by Cllr John Weighell, the county council’s leader, and Richard Flinton, the chief executive, and went on to a briefing with County Cllr Tony Hall, executive member for children’s services, and  Pete Dwyer, the corporate director of the children and young people’s service.

The county council is consulting on a new prevention service, which will refashion universal services to prioritise work with those most in need across the 0-19 age range.  Because of the need to make significant savings, the new service will be formed from current separate services through a more “joined up” and focused system with dedicated workers supporting and working alongside children and young people to keep them safe. 

The minister was also briefed about the transformative and award-winning work taking place with children and young people on the edge of care, such as the Woodleigh Outdoor Adventure Project, which provides adventure activities to over 100 children and young people in the county with the most complex needs, giving them invaluable life experiences, therapeutic support and a sense of achievement as well as respite to struggling families. He also heard of the local success in developing pathways which enable children leaving special school provision to remain in local training and employment.

North Yorkshire is also ahead of the game in its support for young people in the care system as they move on into adult life.  The authority was one of the first to enable young people in care to remain with foster families until the age of 21 and to be supported by the leaving care team through education and training until aged 25. The county council currently supports nearly 250 care leavers with nearly one in 10 currently studying at university.

The minister also learnt that despite stringent savings the county council has protected frontline social work, increasing the number of social workers and maintaining recruitment so that agency staff are seldom required.

Edward Timpson said: “It was great to hear first-hand from local foster carers and children and young people in or from care about their experiences of North Yorkshire’s Children and Young People’s Service. It’s also encouraging that the county council’s service has prioritised vulnerable children and had the foresight to enable foster children to remain with their foster family up until the age of 21 well before we introduced the law for all councils to do so.”

“We are proud of our record in North Yorkshire in the safeguarding and preventative work we undertake,” said Cllr Hall, “and we believe we are at the forefront of good practice in some significant areas.  The need to make substantial savings has made us rethink our priorities and find new ways of being even more effective.  We were therefore delighted to have the opportunity to show the minister what we have achieved so far and the innovative systems we are currently working to put in place.”

Picture shows: (left to right front row) Pete Dwyer, corporate director for the children and young people’s service; Richard Flinton, county council chief executive; Cllr Tony Hall, executive member for children’s services; Jonny Hoyle, a North Yorkshire care leaver and soon-to-be social worker for the authority; Rachel Kemp, a care leaver to be employed by the authority’s family intervention team; County Councillor John Weighell, council leader; Stuart Armstrong, care leaver and undergraduate; County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools; (left to right back row) Rachel Malik, care leaver and undergraduate; Edward Timpson, the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families; Tim Massie, North Yorkshire looked-after child.
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St Stephen's Catholic Primary School in Skipton has set out a clear plan for rapid improvement after the school was recently placed in special measures by Ofsted.

Inspectors acknowledged that pupils were well cared for and felt safe at the school and commended the wide range of sports activities that pupils take part in. It was also recognised that most pupils are fluent, confident speakers who express their knowledge, understanding and ideas enthusiastically. However, inspectors called for an action plan to improve the quality of teaching, further improve pupil attendance levels and strengthen the school's leadership and management systems.

The school's governing body; the local authority and the diocese are working closely together to support the school to raise standards swiftly.

"St Stephen's is a strong community," said chair of governors Kate Molloy. "We believe that the issues identified by Ofsted can be addressed quickly. We all remain totally committed to ensuring that our children receive the best quality Catholic education possible."

The local authority and diocese have confidence that the governing body will steer the school to make the necessary improvements and carry out the local authority action plan.

Partnerships with other local good and outstanding diocesan schools have been established to share good practice and establish the highest standards in teaching and learning. As part of this support, a consultant headteacher is working alongside school leaders who are determined to return the school to its previous "good" and "outstanding" judgements received at the last two inspections.

County Councillor Arthur Barker, executive member for schools, said: "Our priority in North Yorkshire is for all children to have access to good or outstanding schools. They deserve nothing less. We are supporting St Stephen's through this challenging period and will work with all partners to make sure children in the community are given quality teaching and learning and that provision improves rapidly."
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North Yorkshire County Council County Hall Northallerton North Yorkshire DL7 8AD
North Yorkshire is England's largest rural county with a population of 600,000 covering 3,000 square miles.
We serve the residents and visitors of North Yorkshire 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

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We provide important local services such as schools, social care services, youth services, libraries, roads, public rights of way, heritage and countryside management, public transport, street lighting, trading standards, consumer advice, registration of births, deaths and marriages, and disposal and recycling of waste.

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