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Truce signed by York Council Group Leaders

The 5 group leaders on the York Council have sent a letter to the “local media” saying they are working “together constructively” and are leaving “partisan politics to one side” during the COVID crisis.

They say that they estimate that there will be “over 700 deaths in York by October”. (Currently 120 deaths have been reported at the York hospital).

They promise to make their communications “constructive”.

This outbreak of bonhomie is all the more surprising given that it has taken 10 weeks of crisis management before it has actually appeared. Residents may have assumed that everyone was working collaboratively behind the scenes.

 Maybe not it seems.

The decision to parade their credentials before the media – rather than the City as a whole – seems strange.

There has been no criticism of the Councils Key Worker staff. Rather it is the activities of senior managers and Councillors which is being scrutinised.

Communication with residents has been very patchy during the last 3 months.

Pandemic fears, expressed by at least one Councillor (Mark Waters) in February, were brushed aside.

York recorded the first UK cases of coronavirus but the authorities declined to confirm that the victims had recovered.

Although crisis hubs were set up promptly, the Council failed – and still fails – to provide food delivery information that is fair to all traders and is made available in an up to date format that is accessible to everyone.

Newsletters were promised but it took a long time to get them through letterboxes.

The Council Leadership eventually stopped replying to correspondence and a range of requests for information were ignored.

We still don’t know how many COVID tests have proved to be positive at the Poppleton testing centre. Some will worry about whether the “700 deaths” forecast is based on data from that source?

The number of road traffic accidents has not been publicly monitored (thought to have reduced).

Nor have vehicle speeds been checked using the automatic equipment available to the Fire Services

A decision making process of sorts was introduced. It limps along. Papers – although written in advance – are not published to the public before decisions are taken.

We have seen a half-baked contraflow cycle lane introduced on Bishopthorpe Road at a time which coincided with road works on the suggested alternative route. The result was unnecessary congestion which could easily have been avoided if proper advice had been taken.

A similar impulsive decision seems to have been made about reducing the size of the Marygate car park.

Extreme opportunism and posturing seems to have replaced the measured, pragmatic approach which effective  crisis management demands.

So when the Group Leaders have finished with their socially distanced conga, they might like to take some time to offer a transparency commitment to the people of York.

The Conga Line GIFs | Tenor

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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4 Rylatt Place York YO26 5DD

Proposal      Two storey side extension, single storey front and rear extensions

Reference   20/00819/FUL

——

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning online web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Coronavirus York updates; 23rd May 2020

Deaths & cases

TWO more people with coronavirus have died at hospitals within the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The two further deaths takes the total within the trust to 198.  The trust includes York Hospital and Scarborough.

THERE have been only two further confirmed coronavirus cases in the City of York Council area over the last 24 hours. Latest figures from Public Health England showed the two more cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the City of York Council area, taking the total so far to 449.

York Council still not processed all grants for micro businesses

The Council says that it has made fewer than 800 grants as part of its support scheme for small and “micro” businesses launched nearly 2 months ago.

The Council is not saying what is causing the delays to the grants which were intended to provide £1000 for up to 1000 York businesses.

Despite this slow progress, the Council has now said that it is extending the scheme to take advantage of an additional £2.2 million in government support funding.

“Top up” grants could be available to a total value of up to £10,000 for those who have already received help as well as to new applicants.

In a statement the Council says,

“Council Coronavirus scheme upgraded to provide support to more of York’s businesses

Local businesses which have so far missed out on government support could benefit from grants of up to £10,000, as the council extends its scheme for small and micro businesses in the City.

The grants aim to benefit small businesses including those in shared offices and flexible work spaces, science parks and incubators. Regular market traders without a business rates assessment. Nurseries, B&Bs paying council tax instead of business rates, and charity properties which all missed out under previous schemes will also be eligible.

Shortly after lockdown was implemented, City of York Council acted quickly to create its own £1m grant scheme for businesses which do not qualify for government support. To date, this scheme has helped nearly 800 local businesses.

Following lobbying efforts, the government has recognised the additional need for financial support and has provided a discretionary fund to local authorities. City of York Council received £2.21m of this funding and has agreed to use it to deliver more grants to the city’s small and micro businesses.

The grants will be staggered between £2500 and £10000, depending on the size and nature of the business, with the following available:

  • Small business and childcare nurseries set to receive: £10000
  • Micro business: £5000
  • B&Bs and market traders who live in York able to apply for: £2,500

Businesses must have been trading before 11 March 2020; have a rateable value or annual mortgage of below £51,000; demonstrate an ongoing fixed property cost and significant financial impact of the coronavirus. It is not available to any business eligible for any other government COVID grant.

The council will open applications for the enhanced grants from Monday 1 June and in the meantime, the Council will continue to process applications for the existing scheme, in order to ensure no business misses out on any funding, unless they do not meet the criteria. All outstanding applicants and previous grantees will be contacted by the council next week, as many will be eligible for a top-up under the enhanced scheme.

Businesses are advised to check the criteria closely and visit www.york.gov.uk/COVIDMicroGrant to prepare key information to apply online.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

This is an exceptionally tough time for so many businesses, especially the small and micro enterprises that characterise York’s creative and independent economy.

“From the very beginning of this crisis, we have worked to ensure our local businesses received swift support from the Council, particularly those who did not meet the criteria for government support.

I am pleased that City of York Council has been recognized as one of the fastest local authorities in the country to distribute grants and rates relief, totaling £110m. We want to go further to support our business community and that is why we have set up this fund to give vital cash injections to small and micro businesses in the city.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said:

I’m extremely proud that we acted quickly to provide a lifeline to many who fell through the cracks of the government support, with nearly 800 small businesses receiving grants so far. Now the government has recognised this need, we can use the funds to give more support to help our businesses survive and adapt.

“We know there are still many York businesses who need more support, and we will continue to press government for more action on their behalf while looking at the local support we can offer.”

The council acted quickly to distribute £110m of grants and rates relief to over 3000 York businesses, and created its own £1m grant scheme to benefit around 800 more which did not qualify for government support.

Under the discretionary fund, local authorities have been given an additional 5% of the total value of grants already distributed in York, and some outline guidance on which businesses should benefit. However, this means councils have to use local knowledge to decide how to fairly distribute the money to benefit as many businesses as possible.

Depending on the volume of applications and the amount of additional checking and verification required, the council aims to make weekly batches of payments starting on 8 June, and hope to pay all grants within four weeks

Council confirms Lord Mayor will continue in office for another year.

No news on position of Sheriff

The Council has issued a statement saying that the current Lord Mayor Janet Looker will continue in office for an additional year. There was no consultation on the proposal which was made at a “behind closed doors” meeting.

The statement reads,

Lord Mayoralty to be extended due to Coronavirus

For the first time in over 80 years The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker and her consort, will stay in office for an extended term.

Following the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, group leaders, The Lord Mayor, and Cllr Chris Cullwick (who was due to become the Lord Mayor this month), have agreed that Cllr Looker will continue as Lord Mayor for another year.

The Government’s emergency legislation for local authorities removed the requirement to hold Annual Council this year, meaning the next Annual Council will be held in 2021

There has been no announcement on the position of Sheriff of the City. The position has been shared by two individuals during the last 12 months.

The vast majority of the events normally attended by the Civic Party were suspended at the beginning of March. It is unclear when they will recommence although it is not thought likely that many will take place before the autumn.

The current Lord Mayor is understood to be observing strict social distancing conventions and has had a low profile in recent months.

NB. It is the first time since 1933-35, when Herbert Edward Harrowell was Lord Mayor, that a Lord Mayor will serve a term of two years. Since WWII, only one Lord Mayor has served over a continuous 12 months when the date of Mayor making was changed from November to May, Therefore the Mayor inaugurated in November 1945 stayed in office until May 1947.

Council aiming to clear garden waste and recycling collection backlog today (Saturday)

Litter Bin Sticker GIF | Gfycat

The Council says that it will work today to try to clear the backlog of waste collection in the City.

The backlog has developed due to “social distancing” issues while garden waste volumes have been very high following the recent suspension of collections.

The Council web site says, “

Latest waste service update

Friday 15 May

All scheduled household waste collections have been made, including outstanding collections from Thursday 21 May.

We were unable to collect recycling from a number of areas due to operational restrictions to do with Covid-19.

  • Strensall
  • New Earswick
  • Haxby
  • Wigginton
  • Clifton
  • Rawcliffe
  • Nether Poppleton
  • Upper Poppleton
  • Guildhall

This recycling  will be collected on Saturday 23 May. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were unable to collect garden waste from a number of areas due to the large amount to be collected and capacity issues.

  • Acomb
  • Poppleton
  • Clifton Without
  • Rawcliffe

We’ll attempt to return for these collections as follows:

  • Poppleton on the evening of Friday 22 May or Saturday 23 May
  • Acomb, Clifton Without and Rawcliffe on Saturday 23 May

Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

All outstanding garden waste from Thursday 21 May has been collected”.

Car park size reduced

The Council, has decided to remove 100 car parking spaces from the Marygate car park. The spaces are those located near to the railway line.

The Council says that, by removing this row of parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to “social distance” more easily.

That may be so but there are other “pinch points” on this route not least the relatively narrow tunnel under the railway line which links to Bootham Terrace.

What is surprising about this and other ideas aimed at countering virus risks is that it has taken the authority as long as 10 weeks to bring them forward.

It then makes a unheralded announcement without any consultation.

The car park is likely to become progressively busier as shoppers and workers return to the beleaguered City centre.

The lack of an holistic plan to sustain the local economy is becoming a real worry for some businesses.

Coronavirus York updates; 22nd May 2020

New charges at Crematorium

The Council has agreed to change the fees that they charge at the crematorium. A report says, “

“The current full charge for cremations with a service is £895 – this charge was the 2019/20 charge frozen for 2020/21.

The charge was in place up to the closure of the chapels to mourners.

A decision was approved on 17th April 2020 for the ‘no service, cremation only’ fee of £550 to be used for the funerals where services were to be conducted outside the Crematorium.

Given that the reopening of the chapels comes with stricter constraints around social distancing and with shorter services of 20 minutes rather than 25 minutes, it is proposed that a lower than full price fee is approved.

This recommended price is £720 which is halfway between the two existing charges and reflects that the running of the services require additional staff and cleaning resources than a no service or outside service funeral

Deaths

There have been no further deaths reported at local hospitals. The total death toll for York and Scarborough therefore remains at 196.

Invasive weeds on the march again

We hoped that we had seen the last of the damaging weed growth that threatened to wreck footpath and forecourt surfaces  last summer.  

The Council’s weed control programme failed last year but there are hopes that things will be better this year.

We were advised that a first application of weed killer to paths and gutters  took place in April.

Recent damp but warm weather has encouraged plant growth and the inevitable appearance of weeds. There seems to be little evidence in some streets and back lanes of “die back” from the application.

However weed control operatives have been seen in various parts of the City so it may be too early to draw conclusions.

One worrying trend has been the reappearance of  tough weeds like “Horses/Mares Tail”. There have been sightings of this pervasive and destructive weed in several locations including Windsor Garth, Green Lane, Kir Crescent and Marston Avenue. In each case damage is being caused to footpath or road surfaces. This is likely to be expensive to repair.

There is a proprietary “diamond” weed killer which eliminates weeds like this as well as nettles and thistles. It is not clear whether the Council has specified the use of this product in problem areas.

If it hasn’t then it needs  to get a move on with applying the chemical quickly to avoid further damage and expense.

Kir Crescent
Little Green Lane garage area
Weeds growing on back lanes
Another problem location near Sandown Close

Waste collection update

The Council are struggling to catch up wiht householdwaste, reccyling and green bin emptying in various aprts of the City. Thye workede on into teh eveing yesterday and promise to continue into Satuirday if necessasry. Their latest update says,

“Latest waste service update
Thursday 21 May

We were unable to collect household waste from Old Orchard, Cherry Tree Lane, and Holly Tree Lane in Haxby due to a vehicle breakdown

This household waste will be collected on Friday 22 May. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were unable to collect recycling from a number of areas due to operational restrictions to do with Covid-19.

  • Strensall
  • New Earswick
  • Haxby
  • Wigginton

This recycling waste will be collected on Friday 22 May. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were unable to collect garden waste from a number of areas due to the large amount to be collected and capacity issues.

  • Strensall
  • New Earswick
  • Haxby
  • Wigginton

This garden waste will be collected on Friday 22 May. Please present your containers for collection by 7.00am.

We were able to return and collect missed waste from Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 May”.