New in Brief 23 June 2016

The latest news, views and more from around rural Yorkshire or that have an impact on charities and community groups in our area.

Housing and Planning

York City Council has taken a step towards production of its Local Plan with the release of a new preferred sites document with significantly revised figures for new housing - with total housing land reduced by half compared to the previous draft but an increase in brownfield sites identified for housing. The Council says that the new plan will create a permanent green belt around the city for the first time. The document is due to be open to public consultation next month. | Planning Portal 23 June

Transport

The Federation of Small Business has launched a report which calls for more investment in rural transport networks to keep rural businesses connected. The report makes a total of seven recommendations to government, including more investment in the local road network to supplement investment already being made in major highway projects, and protection of public transport in rural areas. You can read more and find the full report on the FSB website.

The North Yorkshire Community Speedwatch scheme is being extended after a successful pilot project. The scheme gives communities concerned about the impact of speeding traffic the opportunity to receive training and equipment to help them monitor traffic speeds on local roads. Motorists found speeding by community volunteers receive a police warning and a notice about the impact of speeding on local communities. If your community would like to register concerns about speeding and be considered for training and equipment should in the first instance use the North Yorkshire Police website to report their concerns.

Broadband

The deadline to have your say about the Government’s proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) is fast approaching - comments must be received by 23 June. The USO is intended to ensure that everyone has a legal right to request a broadband connection with a minimum 10Mbps speed by 2020. The Local Government Association has welcomed this as “a significant step” but says that the 10Mbps target will soon become outdated and that the USO should instead refer to a minimum standard benchmarked against a percentage of national average speeds. The Communications Regulator, Ofcom, is running the consultation. Read more and have your say via their consultation website.

Health

The North Yorkshire Winter Health Strategic Partnership is interested to hear from all organisations who work with individuals or groups that might be vulnerable to cold winter weather. The Partnership’s Training Needs Assessment will help determine what training should be offered to help deliver the North Yorkshire Winter Health Strategy. Winter health is a key issue in rural areas where people may be more isolated or live in homes with poor insulation and high energy bills. The Training Needs Assessment can be accessed online until Thursday 30 June.

Environment

A new map produced by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England reveals where England’s darkest - and brightest - night skies are. Three North Yorkshire districts - Ryedale, Richmondshire and Craven - are in the top ten darkest districts, but West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire are the two counties with, on average, the brightest night skies. Read the CPRE press release for more information and visit the interactive map to see how dark the skies are where you live.

Charity Governance

The Charity Commission is consulting on proposed new guidance regarding the process of independent examination - a form of financial scrutiny less onerous than a full audit which is available to smaller charities. The new guidance has been rephrased to make it easier to understand, and a new standard report form has been proposed. Small charities and anyone involved in the independent examination of charity accounts should read the proposed new guidelines and respond to the consultation by 30 September 2016. | Consultation details on gov.uk website.

Statistics

The latest edition of the Statistical Digest of Rural England has been published via the Government website.

STREAM, the Local Information System for York and North Yorkshire, has become part of Data North Yorkshire. The same statistics, research and mapping will continue to be available via the new Data North Yorkshire website.

Other consultations

The Office of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner is currently consulting on the direction and priorities for policing and community safety in 2016-2021. Consultation is being carried out via a simple online survey.

The Cabinet Office is consulting on proposed new policy directions for the Big Lottery Fund. The fund, which distributes around £700m of lottery money every year, must work within certain policy guidelines laid down by Government. The proposed new directions are largely about updating and clarifying the current directions rather than a fundamental change, but any community group or charity that currently receives lottery funding, or may in the future, should read them and take the opportunity to make their views known. Of particular interest is a proposed change to ensure that funding should be distributed with regard for "the different social and economic issues experienced in urban and rural areas". This is the first time that rurality has been specifically referenced in the Big Lottery Fund policy directions, and is a welcome development. The consultation closes on Friday 12 August 2016. | Consultation documents can be found on the gov.uk website.