York Council Budget: Labour announce closure of recycling centre, car park charges up 18%

Beckfield Lane recycling centre

The Labour controlled Council has announced that they are closing the Beckfield Lane recycling centre.

The centre was due to have been replaced by a new “Salvage and Re-use centre” at Harewood Whin but this to has also now been cut from the Councils plans.

The decisions are bad news generally for York Council Taxpayers as the amount of rubbish land filled is likely to increase. This in turn will mean taxpayers facing a bigger bill for, the rapidly escalating, “landfill tax”.

The Acomb side of the City has done particularly badly out of the cuts imposed by the Labour administration. The Acomb Office is set to close later this month and the number 4 ftr bus service will be scrapped in May.

Hugh reductions in the amount spent on the elderly, children’s play and other neighbourhood improvements are also being implemented as ward committee budgets are slashed by nearly half.

Instead, Labour are pouring money into the City centre with gimmicks, like an extended “WiFi zone” and a £100,000 pay on exit arrangement at one car park, sucking funds away from other parts of the City.

NB. Car parking charges are set to rise by 20p an hour for York residents. The increase of between 12% (short stay) and 18% (long stay) is the largest in the City since Labour were last in power in April 2003.

Budget headlines

Labour are announcing today their Council budget for the next 2 years.

• Council Tax up by 2.9% in April 2012 and at least 2.0% more from April 2013 (£54 pa)

• Council House rents up by 7.4%

• Business rates up by 5.8%

• Water and sewage up by 6.1%

• Car parking charges up

• 8% cut in grants for voluntary sector

• 200 jobs to go over next 2 years

• Council to borrow £20 million more

• £2.8 million in public service standard cuts over 24 months.

• £5.4M a year in “efficiency” improvements

• Libraries to be outsourced

• More to pay for increased numbers requiring elderly care and for looked after children
• £100k for consultants to prepare a “bus contract”

Acomb Green playground improvement contract

double click to enlarge

Following the news that the Friends of Acomb Green were successful in obtaining lottery funding for improvements to the playground, the Council has now invited tenders for the work.

The budget for the project is £45,000, excluding VAT. Tender must be submitted by 12 noon on the 6th February 2012.

Works have to be completed before the end of May 2012.

Eco cabs needed in York

Renault Fluence

It’s a couple of years now since the York Council agreed to try to reduce the emission levels of public transport vehicles in the City. Top priority was to deal with some types of buses, but taxis and private hire fleets also needed to be modernised.

It a shame that London now seems to be forging ahead of York with this initiative.

For short journeys, electric power is perfectly adequate and better for the environment than even a hybrid. It would be good to see a couple of bays with charging points reserved at the railway station for use by eco cabs. The Council should tender the availability of a couple of licences for a company that was prepared to provide such a option (perhaps in return for a 3 – 5 year contract).

Customers would themselves decide whether to use an eco cab or a conventional taxi.

In the meantime this is what they are doing in London.

“Driving in the city usually isn’t a pleasant experience. Due to the city being the hub for major shopping outlets, businesses, restaurants and etc, traffic tends to be congested and most of the time you end up burning fuel unnecessarily. The good news is if you’re a resident of London, or if you’re planning to take a trip down for the 2012 London Olympics, you might be interested in checking out the Renault Fluence Z.E which will be the city’s first zero-emission cab as part of their plan to go green.

These taxis will be operated by eco cab company ClimateCars who have recently added the Renault Fluence Z.E.s to their fleet. The company has previously offered low carbon/hybrid vehicles in the past, which makes the Fluence Z.E.s the company’s first electric vehicle offering. These cabs will be powered by a 94hp electric motor and will feature a range of 115 miles on a single charge, and to encourage the adoption and usage of electric vehicles, the Renault Fluence Z.E. cab will be charging the same fare as normal cabs in London”.

How to contact your Liberal Democrat European Parliament members

It is likely to be several weeks before new MEP Rebecca Taylor has set up a new local office.

In the meantime residents are reminded that they can contact our other MEP Edward McMillan-Scott.

He can be Emailed on edward.mcmillan-scott@europarl.europa.eu.

Web Site http://www.emcmillanscott.com/index.html

Office admin telephone number 07730 682677

Nick Clegg and Edward McMillan-Scott

Bad news for children and elderly as Labour cut ward budgets

As the Council budget crisis deepens, Councillors are set to scrap a series of Ward Committee funded repair and renewal schemes across the City. As much as 32% of this years (11/12) ward committee budget could be slashed with further cuts expected during the next 12 months.

We understand that in Westfield the provision made for the repair and improvement of children’s play facilities has been scrapped, together with funding for older persons activities and the renewal of street signs. This comes on top of the previous decision to stop community ranger security patrols.

In total £11,500 is being cut from the £40,000 budget.

Across the City nearly £168,000 is being axed, with one ward apparently facing an 80% reduction.

The panic move comes after newly elected Labour Councillors failed in the summer to get to grips with escalating wage costs particularly in the care services. Over £20,000 is now being spent each year on a newly created “community safety” cabinet post allocated to a Labour Councillor. £38,000 extra is being spent funding Trades Union shop steward posts.

Hopes for playground improvements dashed

New fitness class launching for people who have a mental illness

City of York Council is launching a new fitness class for people who have a mental illness.

Classes start this Thursday and will take place every week from 12noon to 1pm at York St John University Sports Hall.

The Wellbeing Circuits Classes are aimed at encouraging people to take regular exercise to help them cope better with their illness.

They are the latest addition to the council’s expanding HEAL (Health, Exercise, Activity and Lifestyle) programme which helps people who have medical conditions to exercise.

Exercise may help combat depression and make you feel happier, boost self-esteem, help you concentrate, sleep as well as enable you to look and feel better.

The Wellbeing Classes are designed to be fun and friendly in a supportive environment, giving people the chance to feel better and meet with those who have had similar experiences.

Katie Ellis, Exercise Pathways Officer at city of York Council, said: “Exercise can be a small change that could help make a big difference to your health. It’s important to try and keep active, no matter how hard that can feel in difficult times”.

Classes cost just £3 per session and those interested can simply turn up and take part.

For more information, members of the public can contact Katie Ellis on 01904 553377 or e-mail Katie.ellis@york.gov.uk or visit www.york.gov.uk/heal

£50,000 boost for Acomb Green

We understand that the Friends of Acomb Green have secured a lottery grant of £50,000 which will be used to improve play facilities.

Members of the public are being asked for their views on the designs for the playground which is due to be completed by summer.

The funds will also go towards installing benches on the rest of the Green later this month.

The Friends and Council are conducting a tendering process and expect to choose a playground design with help from the local community by February 20. Members of the public are invited to view the designs and provide feedback at the Acomb Explore Library from February 7 to 19.

They can also email friendsofacombgreen@yahoo.co.uk

2 fined for dog fouling offences

A report to the Council next week reveals that several prosecutions took place between 1st July and 30th September. The results included:
• 2 x £50.00 fixed penalty notices were issued under the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 for allowing a dog to foul and failing to remove the faeces.
• A further prosecution took place against an owner who failed to keep his dog under proper control (costs £704.07)
• One popular City centre bar and restaurant was prosecuted for falsely describing the strength of spirit drinks (Costs £2575.58) A further 5 cautions were issued to 3 other businesses for similar offences.
• 4 people were given £50 fixed penalty notices for smoking in a prohibited area
• A taxi driver was fined £225 and given 8 penalty points for driving without the required insurance
• One woman was fined £300 and had to forfeit amplification equipment for breeching a noise abatement order