May was dominated by two things – the local elections, which saw Labour sweep to power in York, and the coronation of a certain King Charles III. The election took place on May 4. And as an appetiser – to make sure politicians clamouring for people’s votes didn’t forget them – disabled people spoke out a few days before the election about just how much the ‘blue badge ban’ in York had affected them. One campaigner, who gave her name only as Danila, told The Press: “Since the ban on Blue Badge holders entering York city centre came in, I have not been able to access services, shops and event venues. “I have to meet friends outside of the city which does leave me feeling isolated and sad that I can’t take part in city centre activities with family and friends. Surely, I have the same right as everyone else to enjoy York city centre?” In the elections themselves, Labour swept to power, knocking the Lib Dems into second place. But it was the Green party in York which was the big loser – every single Green councillor lost their seat. Labour won 24 seats in all, to the Lib Dems 19. The Conservatives won three seats, and there was one Independent. The council’s new Labour leader Claire Douglas said: “After eight years (of Labour being out of power in York) we are really keen to get on with the job. We can’t wait to get started.” Labour’s commitments, repeated in the wake of the election victory, included reversing the ‘blue badge ban’ and providing free school meals for primary school children in York. A couple of days after the election, on June 6, King Charles III was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The occasion was marked in York with a 21-gun salute in Museum Gardens attended by hundreds of onlookers. Among them was Stacey Barrow, who had brought her children to witness the historic occasion. “I loved the Queen, and I think Charles is going to be a really great King,” she told The Press.
June saw the Uggla family – mother-and-son combination Julie-Anne and Matthew – complete their takeover of York City FC by acquiring a majority of shares. The pair – who had previously attempted to take over Yeovil Town – became co-chairmen. Speaking of his excitement for the future, Mr Uggla said: “I think the sky really is the limit, there’s not really a ceiling on this club. “It’s just a case of putting the right structures and plans in place to really go for it.” In other news in June, an exhibition was held in Coney Street to remember a much-loved dad who had taken his own life three years earlier. The family of Bruce Wetherhill, 31, had raised more than £31,000 for mental health charity York Mind. Bruce, who was 6’7” tall, was a ‘gentle giant’ who had lived for most of his life in Tadcaster. He was married to Josie and had a little girl, Matilda, and a boy, Ezra. The money raised by his family went towards two free projects for young men – Active Minds, a project partnering with York City Football Club, York Knights and CrossFit Jorvik; and My Mind On A Mural, an art project run by Art Specialists – with the help of staff from York Mind – to aid mental health discussions. The Open-air Mothership Festival in the grounds of Acomb Sports Club drew crowds of 2,500 people and was pronounced a ‘huge success’. And former York Press chief reporter Mike Laycock, who had retired in March, was the subject of a glowing tribute on national Radio 2. Zoe Ball show regular the Rev Matthew Woodcock, himself a former Press reporter, remembered how Mike had helped train him when he was himself a cub reporter. “Mike always made time to teach and help me,” Mathew said. “In my first week, he was the one to coax me out of the staff toilets where I had gone to hide and cry, the shock of the morning news deadlines proving too much.” Matthew recalled a night shift he covered with Mike when they interviewed victims of a ‘devastating’ flash flood in York. He said: “Watching how he carried himself and interacted with people was my real education. I marvelled at Mike’s care and compassion. How determined he was to share stories carefully and sensitively. Happy retirement, Mike.”