Hedges – A good time to check if they need trimming

There were a lot of problems during the summer with hedges obstructing public paths. In some cases, the obstructions were caused by Council owned trees and bushes. The jury is still out on whether new processes and budget allocations announced earlier this week will result in an improvement during 2020.

Hedges on the boundary of private gardens and the public highway (including foot and cycle paths) are the responsibility of the hedge owner. Home occupiers must ensure that the highway is kept clear of obstructions at all times

Obstructions can be a significant problem for some users. The partially sighted are at a particular risk and cyclists being “swiped” by stray branches can lead to more serious accidents.

In some cases thorn buses like brambles and roses overhang paths representing an added hazard.

Thorn bush branches at eye height are a particular risk

Sadly, like the problems with damage to verges, in recent years the Council has been tardy in ensuring that hedges are cut back from paths. They do have enforcement powers which have been used in the past to force action. In extreme cases hedges have been cut back to the path line after notice periods have expired. The owners were charged for the work.

No such notices have been issued recently.

Of course, some occupiers may not be physically able to cut badly overgrown hedges. It has been suggested that this is a service area that a “not for profit” start-up could usefully exploit. There are already several local gardening companies which offer trimming services.

Even the Councils own cycle tracks were obstructed last summer

With leaves now off trees and hedges, winter is the optimum time to deal with long standing problems. This needs to be done before the start of the bird nesting season.

The Council also has powers to require its tenants to cut garden hedges as do social landlords.

We have advocated for some time the appointment of a paths supervisor who could trim back Council owned hedges and initiate action against irresponsible neighbours who cause obstructions. We hope that the Council will fund such a post in its new budget.

We hope to see some well publicised action from West Offices over the next few weeks.

Issues reported in west York today

Hedges need cutting back during winter
More potholes
Snickets need sweeping
Verges need tidying up and damaged equipment replaced.
Fly tipping needs removing
Another one for the new graffiti removal team
Acomb Moor damaged stile still not repaired. We understand that local Councillors are dealing
Council bus shelters are filthy

Dumping and litter blights nature area

“Investment in waste and environment services to include additional staffing on waste rounds, improved city centre cleaning and effective weed control”. That’s what the York Council is promising in their newly published budget for next year.

In total – over two years – an additional £1 million will be found for a new system of “neighbourhood working”.

This, says the Council, will “improve the waste collection service to residents by increasing the number of green waste collections, adding two extra green waste collections each March from 2021 onwards.

The pilot of 3 free replacement boxes per property will continue and be made permanent.

The Council will develop neighbourhood working models across public realm and waste to better respond to the communities needs building on the success of local management, ownership and responsibility elsewhere in the council.

The Council will work with York Business Improvement District to review how city centre cleansing can be improved. The resilience of the services will be improved by removing the reliance on fixed term staff.

In addition they will invest in the weed control service to increase the areas treated and, in response to the world wide ongoing challenge about the use of glyphosate,  will trial alternative methods for dealing with weeds such as foams etc”.

The proposal is short on detail but improvements in cleaning services can’t come soon enough for some sub-urban areas.

Several amenity areas are now overwhelmed by fly tipping and litter.

The Westfield/Grange Lane park and adjacent nature area is a case in point and is particularly bad at present.

Westfield Park which is located between Grange Lane and Westfield Place

T

4% increase in Council Tax in York

Budget plans for next year published as residents say  highways maintenance is top priority for them

York residents will have a month to comment on the York Councils budget plans for the next financial year.

Plans for some of the key expenditure areas were published over the weekend.

Council Tax will increase by 3.99% with 2% of the increase being earmarked for social care services. The latter will get a £4.5 million boost.

The results of the Councils consultation on budget options are also published. Only 691 residents responded. Their top expenditure priority was, unsurprisingly, road and path repairs.

The Council plans to make £4 million in savings although many of these are, largely opaque, financial management tweaks.

Council staff will get a 2% pay increase.

£11 million will be invested in services as part of the Council budget plans.

  • As much as £1 million will be invested in a new waste and street environment services. This is in addition to capital investment of £6 million on new refuse collection vehicles.
  • Capital investment of over £12 million will support, repair and improve the highways network. This includes £275,000 for the creation of a reactive pothole repair team,
  • A long term investment of £3 million in planting more trees is proposed as part of the “northern forest”
  • Borrowing for house building results in a £1.5 million bill for interest charges on money already borrowed although £7 million is also allocated for modernisation works to the Council housing stock

Corporate

Savings include centralising communications budgets, fee increases and “making best use of Council assets”.

Growth includes £141,000 extra for Councillors pay and £80,000 for   an “organisational development programme to ensure delivery of key Council priorities”

As well as the welcome commitment to invest more in highways maintenance there are some, surprises in the capital programme . There is £100,000 for a trial of robotics monitoring of social care clients. It will utilise AI. £230,000 is earmarked to replace rising bollards on Bishophill, while a whopping £6.6 million will go on new refuse collection vehicles. This, in effect, confirms that the reason for the multiple vehicle failures last year was poor replacement programming (3 of the new vehicles will be electric powered).

29 Castlegate

More is to be spent maintaining and extending the electric car recharging network. £270,000 is to be spent renovating 29 Castlegate which has been empty for several years. The report says “The condition of the building both internally and externally is deteriorating whilst unoccupied” (Quelle Surprise!)

Theatre Royal

The York Theatre Royal will get another £500,000 to spend on heating, lighting and access improvements. (NB. The Theatre received a £770,000 grant 3 years ago to complete refurbishment work & was supposed to be self-supporting by now).

Installing “hostile vehicle” prevention barriers in the City centre will cost £1.6 million.

Health and Adult Social Care.

Savings include changes at Yorkcraft and revised charging arrangements.

Growth mainly reflects price increases from suppliers and increased demands from an ageing population.

Children and Education

Savings include reducing child placement costs & less for community centre maintenance.

Growth  items include an extra £250,000 for “safer communities” and £50,000 to create a Mental Health early intervention fund.

Environment and Climate change

Savings: Increases in fees and parking charges including evening charges, Minister badges and an “additional diesel duty” in 2021.

Growth items extra litter /poop scoop bins, better tree maintenance (halleluiah!), “ review of waste collection, including plastics and food waste” and including  adding two extra green waste collections each March from 2021 onwards, additional staffing on waste rounds, improved city centre cleaning, effective weed control (praise the Lord!), another study into re/opening Haxby railway station (the fourth in  the last 2 decades) and additional Taxi Licensing enforcement .

Housing

Savings  Extended use of smart mobiles, reduced use of sub-contractors, reduced void times plus new James House rents,

Growth   Electrical safety check programme, water hygiene testing, quicker repairs & “improving the care of estates

Capital investments include an average of £8 million a year to be invested in Council house modernisation and building insulation programmes.

NB. The report pointedly does not make any reference to Council House rent levels.

We will publish other details as they become available  

The Mount road works restart tomorrow

Scheme to be completed in January

Works at the junction of The Mount and Scarcroft Road will resume from Monday 6 January 2020, and are expected to last for up to 4 weeks.

This follows works in October to improve the junction of The Mount, Dalton Terrace and Albemarle Road, and also the junction of The Mount and Scarcroft Road.

The roadworks took longer than planned, so City of York Council is coming back to complete the final stage to refurbish and replace the traffic signals in January. This is to avoid any disruption on the run up to and during the Christmas period. 

Works will take place Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm and weekends 8am to 4pm. www.york.gov.uk/TheMount

This final stage is estimated to take no more than four weeks to complete.

Traffic management will be in place at the junction during the works and motorists are expected to experience some delays while the works are underway.

They are asked to plan their journey carefully and leave additional time if passing through the area. It is not anticipated that there will be any diversions or suspensions to bus services or stops, however, to allow construction to take place the inbound bus lane will be suspended during the works.  It will be also be necessary to suspend some of the on street parking on the cobbles on The Mount during the works and this will be advertised separately.

Controlled pedestrian crossings will be provided during construction to allow pedestrians to cross the road safely.  There will be some temporary footway closures in place to allow works to be undertaken, however, full access will be retained to all businesses and properties during construction. 

For more information visit: www.york.gov.uk/TheMount 

Car ban, driver-less shuttle …just posturing?

Comments from some Councillors on social media suggest that the half-baked plan to ban all “non-essential” private cars from the City Centre is not what it at first seemed.

Politicians have been falling over themselves to reassure drivers that there will be exemptions from the ban for those driving to City centre destinations. These include blue badge holders, those driving to off street public car parks, those driving to workplace car parks, those driving to their (City centre) homes, those making deliveries, taxis, tradespeople, those driving ULEVs and more.

The “ban” is now being re-positioned as an attempt to prevent the “through movement” of cars (vehicles beginning and ending their journeys outside the City Walls).

That is an argument that took place more than 2 decades ago when the Council closed access to Deangate (next to the Minster), several streets were pedestrianised and Coppergate was closed to general traffic for most of the day.

 In effect, there is now little “through” traffic using Ouse bridge. There is likely to be even less traffic on the bridge when the Castle car park closes next year. Closure of Ouse Bridge to general traffic is included as an option in the current LTP albeit after improvements to the A1237 bypass have been completed. A new Local Transport Plan is due next year and could provide a background for an informed debate.

There is one big issue. The Labour proposal amount to a 24/7 ban on private cars using Lendal Bridge, which does have an element of through traffic using it. It is the bodged, ANPR enforced, Lendal Bridge restriction re-badged and greatly extended.

That is why the Labour Councillor, who is acting as a surrogate for disgraced former transport chief Dave Merrett (who now heads the local Labour party organisation), has included the whole of the area within the City Walls in his car ban plan.

The additional journey times for people trying to drive from, for example, the railway station area to east York and beyond using the, already congested,  Clifton or Skeldergate bridges should be revealed.

As well as origin and destination statistics the Council is also able to publish congestion trend data. The length of traffic queues on most arterial routes – as a result of initiatives like “park and ride” – are now less than they were 20 years ago.

The trick is to reduce congestion not gamble with changes that could make matters worse.

Cllr D’Agorne- the current transport chief –  has also admitted that he was briefed last summer on plans to seek funding for a “driver-less” shuttle service in the central area.

He says that he maintained confidentially about the plan as officials didn’t want other cities to hijack the idea. No consultation was undertaken.

Some will feel that, if funding is allocated (£4 million is being sought), then the pressure to implement a potentially hazardous system will overcome any objections from concerned residents.

Another project for the “row back” quickly brigade?

Recycling banks feeling the strain in York

One frustrations for residents, who try to make an effort to recycle, is finding facilities full or closed.

Today the bottle banks at Acomb car park were full to overflowing. This has happened before during holiday periods. The Council should be aware of the issue and take steps to check that capacity is available for keen recyclers throughout the year.

NB. The Council, says that it intends to use only “green energy” in future. A meeting next week is being asked to move the authority over to the use of energy produced only from sustainable sources. There will be a modest increase in costs for taxpayers of around £6000 a year.

York flood prevention update

The Council will receive an update report on the progress with flood prevention works at a meeting taking place on 13th January 2020.

Flooding in late December 2015 followed an intense period of rainfall across November and December due to the impacts of Storms Desmond and Eva. Record river levels were observed in many river catchments across the north of England. More than 4000 homes and 2000 businesses flooded across Yorkshire with 453 properties and 174 businesses flooded in York

Funding was allocated to the Environment Agency (EA) following the floods to renew existing and provide new flood defences across the city, £28m has been allocated to the Foss Barrier improvements and £45m to the wider flood defences across the city.

The Yorkshire Future Flood Resilience Pathfinder project led by City of York Council has recruited three Flood Resilience Project Officers who are in the early stages of the development of a range of demonstration and awareness materials that will be used to build flood resilience across Yorkshire.

Appeal following burglary in Huntsmans Walk

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for witnesses and information about a burglary that occurred in Acomb, York.

It happened at Huntsmans Walk between 1pm and 3.30pm on Thursday 2 January 2020. Items of jewellery were stolen.

We are requesting the public’s assistance to help establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

In particular, we are appealing for information about any witnesses that were in the area or anyone who has CCTV in the local area.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for PC 41 David Ellison You can also email 000041@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 12200001011.Contact details:Dave Ellison – #0041
000041@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk | 30041Incident reference:12200001011