Traffic speed check results in York revealed

The Council has published a report on the action being taken to address traffic speed concerns in the City.

Generally accident trends over the last few years have been downwards although the numbers involving motorcyclists has been increasing recently.

The Council and Police have a list of locations where they are routinely targeting speeders. In some cases the sites are visited by the new mobile speed camera van.
• Acomb Beckfield Lane,
• Askham Richard Main St
• Copmanthorpe Temple Lane
• Dringhouses Chaloners Road
• Dringhouses Tadcaster Road
• Dunnington, Church Balk,
• Earswick Strensall Road
• Elvington, B1228
• Elvington, B1228
• Fulford Road, Broadway,
• Fulford, Fordlands Road,
• Haxby Greenshaw Drive
• Haxby Towthorpe Rd
• Haxby York Road
• Heslington Main Street
• Heworth Dodsworth Avenue,
• Heworth Malton Road
• Heworth Without Woodlands Grove
• Huntington Huntington Rd (nr 567)
• Huntington New Lane
• Huntington North Lane
• Huntington Strensall Road
• Murton Murton Way
• Naburn Village, B1222
• Poppleton Millfield Lane
• Poppleton Station Rd
• Rawcliffe, Clifton Moor Gate,
• Rawcliffe, Stirling Road
• Stockton on Forest Main St
• Strensall Ox Carr Lane
• Westfield Foxwood Lane
• Westfield Green Lane,
• Wheldrake, Church Lane,
• Woodthorpe Ryecroft Avenue

There is also a long list of sites where some “engineering work” may be undertaken to discourage speeding. 16 additional sites are being added this month to a list that now totals 42 locations.

This represents a growing backlog and one that needs to be addressed using the Councils capital programme.

It is a higher priority than introducing a city wide 20 mph limit. A general 20 mph limit would be unenforceable given the problems that the Police and Council already have enforcing the 30 mph limit on some roads.

The sites awaiting engineering works such as warning signs, gateway treatments, road build outs etc. are listed here (click to enlarge).

List of sites in York requiring engineering work to address speeding concerns

Musical deck chairs on Titanic

Staff at the York Council will be finding out tomorrow (Monday) what the new Labour Council plans for their jobs.

Further reductions in management numbers are inevitable with 3 more Assistant Directors set for the chop.

The proposed changes come only 12 months since the last major change prompting fears that workers face years of a Maoist style “constant revolution”.

Departmental responsibilities are to be changed with the Strategy Department apparently in future going to be called “City and Environmental Services”.

Economic Development will be managed by the Chief Executive while a new Public Health function will be added to the Neighbourhoods department.

Labour Councillors seem to forget that, while changing names and moving functions from one Directorate to another may give the impression of action, in reality having so many changes in such a short period of time damages morale and saps the organisational and financial strength of the Authority.

They should concentrate on making the more fundamental value for money choices necessary to meet increased demand for services against a constrained level of income.

£5 million in expenditure & only 2 hours in which to make your views known…………. & it’s too late now!

York has made steady progress over recent years in enhancing the appearance and function of the City centre. Some of he key improvements implemented or planned include:
• Library and Library Square public realm enhancement Internal alterations to library approved 2009 and now complete.
• 5* Hotel, New CYC Offices and Station Road War Memorial
• Minster Piazza A new and improved setting for the spectacular South Transept
• King’s Square public realm enhancement
• St. Sampson’s Square and Parliament Street public realm enhancement
• Fossgate New Footstreet
• Piccadilly junction improvements
• Treemendous Initiative, in partnership with community groups, to plant 50,000 trees in York over the next 3 years.,
• Duncombe Place public realm enhancement

Cross party support for these improvements has been forthcoming.

Now the new Labour administration is setting out their priorities. They are entitled to do so but residents have an expectation that any plans will be carefully costed, that financing will have been obtained, that residents – particularly those who are directly affected such as traders – will have been consulted and that a realistic implementation timetable will have been drawn up.

In the case of the proposals going to a decision meeting on Thursday, none of these principles seems to have been respected.

…..And residents were given only a couple of hours (until 5;00pm on Friday) to record their written views on a report which was only published on the Friday morning!!!!! (the previous Council allowed a full week for written representations to be lodged).

A summary of the proposals is reproduced below.

Click to enlarge

They are something of a curates egg.

• Many would like to see large delivery vehicles banished from the City centre. The idea of transhipping goods onto smaller local delivery lorries is an attractive one. But previous studies have pointed out to huge costs in setting up a new depot with substantial annual costs for planning and running the delivery system. If this scheme were introduced then either an (unlikely) taxpayers subsidy would have to be found or City Centre traders would have to pay (and that would mean higher prices for shoppers and a reduction in the ability of City centre retailers to compete with out of town centres).

• Similarly, while the Councils budget might run over the next 3 years to one major additional paving scheme – and Duncombe Place does offer a major opportunity – then costs could escalate if major work is required to utility services. 9York’s infamous Victorian sewers still need a lot of investment),

• The report talks of introducing “pay and display” in the City centre. We have actually had pay and display at both on street and off street parking spaces for 2 decades now. Some retailers want pay on exit to be introduced at municipal car parks at a cost of around £750,000. But the system of mechanical barriers was abandoned in the 1990s because of reliability problems. Fortunately the is a solution available in the form of touch in touch out smart cards which could satisfy those who do not want to forecast the length of their stay when they park in the City.

• Alarms bells will be ringing in the ears of traders in streets like Micklegate who are singled out for unspecified traffic management changes.

So, all in all, some good ideas rather ruined by the manner in which they have been put forward.

The lack of public consultation in particular will leave a legacy of distrust and scepticism.

City Centre traffic proposals (click to enlarge)

The good, the bad and the unworkable

Proposed City centre footstreet changes (click to enlarge)

Labour have finally published their proposals for changes to the City centre. They are contained in two documents that will be debated at a meeting on Thursday.

Today we look at the changes that they propose to the traffic and parking arrangements in the City centre pedestrian areas.

Several of the proposals are welcome and build on the improvements made in the City centre over the last decade. They include standardising – and extending – the footstreet hours, adding Fossgate (and Castlegate) to the zone, additional cycle parking, additional parking spaces for disabled drivers on Piccadilly, reductions in unnecessary signage and eliminating A (advertising) boards from public footpaths.

Other proposals will be more controversial;
• The exclusion of most motor vehicles – together with the elimination of “on street” parking outside the pedestrian hours – could hit the evening economy.,
• Putting in a (one way) cycle link on High Petergate will not please all and it fails to address the need for a west to east cross city centre cycle route,
• The most severely disabled residents who currently have green badges (in addition to those with national blue badge ) will have less access to the city centre and fewer “on street” parking spaces.
• Changes to access arrangements in Micklegate could hit traders and area beingpropmoted with little preliminary consultation with those affected.

Some plans need to go back to the drawing board.
 Extending the pedestrian zone to include Monk Bar would leave a large number of residents and businesses without day time vehicular access. This would include part of the Aldwark development and The Minster
 Reducing the number of general parking spaces available in car parks – and reserving the spaces for blue badge holders – is unnecessary (given that spare spaces are available at most time for all potential users).
 Erecting 10 mph advisory speed signs at the entrance to the zone would simply add to the street clutter. The few vehicles that could still enter the area are unlikely to travel quickly.
 Evening parking spaces in Blake Street, Lendal, Goodramgate and Duncombe Place would be lost. Some of these, at least, add to active feel of the city particularly on winter evenings.
 Closing the Blake Street slip road (from Duncombe Place) would have little effect (it is only used regularly by a horse and cart)

We will review the more controversial, and costly, proposals for physical changes tomorrow.

Traffic proposals summary (click to enlarge)

Getting young people into work

Lib Dems in Government making sure every young person has a fair chance

The Lib Dems in Government are taking real action to tackle youth unemployment. Every young person who wants it will be guaranteed a job, training or work placement.
The Youth Contract will create over 400,000 new jobs and 250,000 new work experience placements to help young people across Britain to get into work.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP said, “If people are out of work when they’re young they bear the scars for decades. If they have a false start, they might not ever fully catch up.

“This £1 billion investment will make sure our young people are earning and learning again, before long-term damage is done.”

The Liberal Democrats are determined to tackle youth unemployment – an issue that has been ignored for too long.

During Labour’s 13 years in power, youth unemployment rose by nearly 40%. There was a shocking 86% increase in the number of 18-24 year olds claiming Job Seekers Allowance.
Local Lib Dem campaigner Steve Galloway added, “Our new plans will make sure every young person has a fair chance. Thanks to the Lib Dems in Government, 1010 local learners took on an apprenticeship in the past year to gain key skills, and now the 3.4% of young people in our area on Job Seekers Allowance will get extra support to help them into work too.”

The £1 billion new investment to tackle youth unemployment includes:
• Over 400,000 new work places for 18 – 24 year olds over the next three years
• 250,000 extra work experience places for every 18 – 24 year old who wants one (after 3 months on Job Seekers Allowance) and 160,000 wage subsidies
• All 18 – 24 year olds to receive extra careers support from Job Seekers Plus (after 3 months on Job Seekers Allowance)
• More funding to support apprenticeships, including 20,000 more incentive payments to encourage employers to take on young apprentices
• A new programme to help the most disengaged 16 – 17 year olds get learning again or into a job with training

Anti social behavior increasing again

click image to enlarge (Source York Council report)

Anti social behaviour in Westfield has been increasing recently with more incidents recorded in the ward than anywhere else outside the City centre in October.

The increase has partly been blamed on the cessation of the Ward committee funded Community Ranger security patrols.

The Labour council has been asked to reintroduce the patrols as soon as possible.

North Yorkshire Police statement regarding the planned public sector industrial action

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal said:

“North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingency arrangements in place to ensure core services are maintained during the planned public sector strike on Wednesday 30 November.

“We are satisfied that these measures will mitigate for any police staff who choose to support the industrial action.

“Members of the public will experience a ‘business as usual’ service as far as possible, with emergency 999 calls being dealt with as swiftly and professionally as ever.

“We feel our approach best serves the overarching priority of North Yorkshire Police, which is to protect and serve our communities.”

Schools set to close on Wednesday

Industrial action – Wednesday 30 November

Headteachers will advise pupils, parents and carers of the detail of any school closures that are required due to industrial action.

Schools expected to be open:

Primary Schools
• Burton Green Primary School
• Carr Infant School (nursery closed)
• Headlands Primary School
• Ralph Butterfield Primary School
• St. Mary’s CE Primary School
• St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School

Schools planning a partial opening (Parents will be advised of specific details):

Primary Schools
• Badger Hill Primary School (open for Year 2)
• Carr Junior School (open for Year 4)
• Danesgate Community
• Derwent Schools (open for Key Stage 1 only)
• Dunnington Primary School (open for Reception, Years 1,2,5 and 6, closed for Years 3 and 4)
• Heworth CE Primary School (closed for class 1 and class 4, open for classes 2,3 and 5)
• Lakeside Primary (1 class closed in Year 2)
• Our Lady Queen of Martyrs RC Primary School (Open for pupils attending Hamilton Drive site with the exception of Year 3, Windsor Garth site closed to all)
• Poppleton Ousebank Primary School (open for reception, Years 1 and 2) (The nursery and Years 3-6 will be closed)
• Rufforth Primary School (Open for Key Stage 2 only)
• St Barnabas CE Primary School (Year 4/5 class and Year 6 open)
• St. Lawrences CE Primary School (Open for Nursery, Reception, Years1,2 and Year 6)
• Westfield Primary Community School (6 classes closed – final details to be confirmed)
• Woodthorpe Primary School (7 classes open 6 classes closed)
• Wigginton Primary (Class R and Class 45J open all day. Classes 1D and 34PR open for the morning only, Classes 6B and 56Br open for the afternoon only)

Secondary Schools
• Archbishop Holgate’s CE School (Years 12 and 13 open only)
• Danesgate Community
• Fulford School (Year 11 open only)
• Huntington School (Years 7,12 and 13 open only)
• York High School (open for Year 7. Year 11 will be able to go in and do individual study in the library and ICT areas)

Schools expected to be closed:

Primary Schools
• Acomb Primary School
• Archbishop of York’s CE Junior School
• Copmanthorpe Primary (but Year 6 residential trip will go ahead)
• Clifton Green Primary School
• Dringhouses Primary School
• Elvington CE Primary School
• Fishergate Primary School
• Hempland Primary School
• Hob Moor Oaks and Hob Moor Primary School
• Knavesmire Primary School
• Lord Deramore’s Primary School
• Osbaldwick Primary School
• Naburn Primary School
• New Earswick Primary School
• Park Grove Primary School
• Poppleton Road Primary School
• Scarcroft Primary School
• Skelton Primary School
• St Aelreds RC Primary School
• St Georges RC Primary School
• St Oswald’s CE Primary School
• St Paul’s CE Primary School
• St Paul’s Nursery
• Stockton on the Forest Primary School
• Tang Hall Primary School
• Wheldrake with Thorganby CE Primary School

Secondary Schools
• All Saints RC School
• Applefields School
• Burnholme Community College
• Canon Lee School
• Manor CE School
• Millthorpe School
• The Joseph Rowntree School

This information is subject to change.

York Councillors Register of Interests – the unanswered questions

Upon taking office, each Councillor must record any Interests that they may have on a publicly available Register. The Register can be viewed “on line” at the Councils web site.

The list is intended to make clear what Interests individual Councillors may have and which might influence their voting behaviour. While it is mainly aimed at reassuring electors that Councillors do not bring influence to bear on issues from which they might personally benefit, it also provided transparency on any links with Companies, Trades Unions and other outside bodies.

Generally the system has worked well and until recently there seemed to be no reason to suppose that all Councillors had not been diligent in filling in and maintaining the accuracy of the register.

As reported on this site previously, concerns were raised about Labour Councillors not declaring an interest at the June Council meeting when a proposal to increase the number of Trades Union officials paid for by taxpayers was considered. The vote came only a few days after candidates at the local elections had confirmed, in returns lodged at the Guildhall, the amounts paid towards their election expenses by third parties.

Most were expected to declare contributions at least from the political party that had nominated them.
By the 26th October, 12 members of the Labour group had failed to register any donations towards their election expenses.

The guidance on completing the register is clear: “The Standards Board for England does not draw a distinction between direct financial assistance (payments of money directly to a Councillor for election or other expenses) and indirect assistance (such as payment for election posters or leaflets). You should register any person or organisation who has made a financial contribution (whether direct or indirect) to your election campaign or who assists you with the costs of carrying out your duties. This may include your political party”.

A complaint about this irregularity was registered with the local Standards committee.
A few days later several Councillors updated their Register entries with 2 now admitting a donation towards their election expenses having been made by UNISON (Cllrs Laing and Crisp).
3 Councillors (Hodgson, Funnell and McIlveen) continued to claim that they had received no help towards the costs of the election (although their running mates in the wards concerned had by then admitted at least a contribution from the Labour Party).

The Standards Committee must now decide whether the Register of interests is now accurate and what action to take – if any – on the votes which were recorded at Council meetings without the appropriate Declaration if Interest being in place.

Register of Interests. (Source York Council web site) click image to enlarge

Donations to political parties

Political Party funding third quarter 2011. click on image to enlarge

The Electoral Commission has published details of the amounts donated to UK political parties during the period between July and September this year.
The Labour party got most of its money from Trades Unions with the biggest donors being UNITE and UNISON.
Predictably the Conservative Party got most of its income from business and individual donations.
The Liberal Democrats depended largely on individual donations.
Biggest eye opener though is each party’s debts.
Labour owes nearly £10 million in outstanding loans dwarfing the £2.6 million owed by the Tories.
Seems that Labour – who claimed to be debt adverse at the last elections – are unable to manage even their own finances and now owe more than several medium size sovereign states such as Anguilla and Montserrat.

Largest individual donations to Political Parties (source Electoral Commission)