Dumping on increase

Overflowing bins in Lowfields

The recent bank holiday would have been one of the busiest periods of the year at the Beckfield Lane recycling centre. However with the centre now closed, some residents are resorting to other means to get rid of their household waste. Some was dumped next to the (full) litter bin in Lowfields a couple of days ago (see photo right). We’ve reported it, of course, and the mess will be cleared… but at a higher cost than if the Beckfield Lane facility was still open.

Police investigate Haxby Road robbery

Detectives in York are appealing for the public’s help following a robbery in the city.
It occurred at 11.15pm on Tuesday 8 May 2012, at the Gold Mine on Haxby Road after two men entered the shop.

One of the men stood near the door as the second man threatened the woman, who was serving behind the counter, with a large knife. The suspect demanded that she open the till before grabbing the notes. It is not known where the men headed after leaving the shop. (more…)

North Yorkshire Police mobile safety camera routes 9 – 15 May 2012

North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following roads between Wednesday 9 May and Tuesday 15 May 2012.
•A64 east-bound carriageway Bowbridge Farm Tadcaster
•A64 west-bound carriageway, Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•Millfield Lane, Poppleton, York
•Beckfield Lane, York
•Green lane, Acomb, York
•Ryecroft Avenue, Acomb, York
•Temple Lane, Copmanthorpe, York
•A1036 Tadcaster Road, York

Olympic Torch cycling opportunity on Tadcaster Road

Wheeling in an extra dimension to the Olympic Torch Relay, City of York Council is selecting some 200 cyclists from the community to escort the Torch on 19 June.

The route includes Tadcaster Road

York is only one of two hosting authorities to be granted permission to add a cycle escort to the relay by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) – the other is Cambridge.

The cycle escort will be stewarded by council cycle trainers, and will pedal behind the main Torch convoy along Tadcaster Road before splitting away from it at Micklegate Bar.

The cyclists will then pedal to the Knavesmire to enjoy the fantastic evening event from 5pm starring singer Katy B which follows an afternoon of free sports and activities from 2pm including sports demonstrations and interactive stands offering tasters of activities such as basketball, cheer-leading, table tennis and equestrian activities.

Working with the police and partners at York College and local cycling groups, this escort promises to add another wow-factor to the relay which aims to reach as many people in the UK as possible. It also means that the Torch’s journey in York will involve bikes, horses and trains: important aspects of the city’s culture.

Members of the escort will be selected from local cycling clubs or groups and will be awarded as prizes for the York Cycle Challenge.

Future of the Guildhall

York residents petition

Council officials have now produced a report on the future of the historic Guildhall – the traditional home, for most of the last 800 years, of democracy and debate in the City.

The report pointedly fails to recognise the concerns expressed by residents who petitioned the Council earlier in the year about the future of the Listed building (right).

What seems increasingly clear is that leading Councillors have no idea what to do with the Guildhall buildings and even less idea how they would pay for any remodelling.

The report talks only of use as ”a centre for creative / digital businesses”.

However, we appear to be getting one of those at the Bonding Warehouse site anyway.

Although the site, taken as a whole, does offer development opportunities, anyone who has Google Earth will readily be able to see that access is a major problem with the only obvious “solution” being to demolish Lendal Cellars & the Post Office building (a well used facility!).

Having architectural competition smacks of desperation and a staggering insensitivity to cost issues. The £35,000 they will be giving to Royal Institute of British Architects, and as prizes, is equal to the cost of keeping facilities like the Beckfield Lane recycling centre open.

And at the end of the day all the Council will have will be a design plan. Still needing several millions in investment to bring it to a reality.

“Blue sky” thinking often produces “red ink” expenditure levels. Unless there is a comprehensive planning brief written then a competition could produce an impractical solution dogged by raised expectation levels.

The last architectural competition of this sort, organised by the Council, resulted in the Parliament Street remodelling 25 years ago – fountain, cycle racks, (recently demolished) public toilets and all.

The Council should retain the Guildhall as its democratic base and let out spare space there – and at its new Toft Green HQ – on a commercial basis to help pay for maintenance costs.

York Guildhall

“Reinvigorate York” plan too exciting for Cabinet?

Apparently the York Council’s “Cabinet” are refusing to discuss in public a report on how £200,000 – of the £28 million “Reinvigorate York” slush fund – may be spent.

Originally scheduled for a 15th May meeting discussion, it now appears that the plan to “maintain and improve public spaces including the refurbishment of street lights, floodlights, bollards, bins and street seating together with widening and repaving the footpath on Station Rise” has been withdrawn from the agenda.

Hopes that the money might instead be invested in replacing public services cut by Labour in the Acomb area are probably doomed to be dashed.

Lowfields care village plans published.

The Council is being asked to agree that the private sector design and manage the new Lowfields Care Village.

A lot of interest was expressed in the plan which was first announced when the Council was under Liberal Democrat control in 2010. The aspiration then was to produce something like the Hartrigg Oaks development on the other side of the City which is run by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. (see http://tinyurl.com/Hartrigg-Oaks)

The accommodation and facilities will be designed in such a way as to encourage a two way interaction between the care village and the wider community. Care Village residents will access the wide range of services and facilities nearby (e.g. local shops, Acomb Explore Library, Energise Leisure Centre) and, likewise, while the wider community will be encouraged to access the care village site (e.g. for a community cafe, community garden/allotments).

The Council would nominate tenants for the 90 registered care beds. 25% of the homes planned for the site would be “affordable”.

Councils cost projections

A report to a Council “Cabinet” meeting on 15th May suggests that the development could pay for itself over a 25 year period. However the opportunity to run other homes like the new ones at Fordlands and Haxby Hall using independent providers seems likely to be lost.

So effectively the Council has still not identified a comprehensive, long term financial strategy for dealing with the increasing numbers of elderly people whom we will see in the City. The main reductions in costs comparing the private sector with the Council are in wage rates. Some care workers a couple of years ago got big pay rises as a result of a job evaluation exercise which in turn has led to reduced job security. However existing employees would be entitled to transfer to work for a new management contractor while retaining their existing conditions of service.

The Council sees the accommodation on the Lowfield site being for people aged 65 years+. The accommodation on site will range from completely independent living, to extra care accommodation, through to residential care, including dementia and nursing care.

Whilst many residents may not have any immediate care needs on arrival, the village accommodation would be configured for people to be able to access care as required. This would mean, for instance, that all of the accommodation would be built “care ready” with minimal work required to install care technology or aids and adaptations. All accommodation will have good access, wide doorways, en-suite facilities, and be designed in such a way that it can easily be adapted if the resident’s care needs change. All of the accommodation on site will have the option of being ‘linked up’ 24/7 to the Care Home/Centre should assistance be required.

Threat to green space at Lowfields (more…)

York Pride takes another hit – cycle barriers

The folly of failing to maintain basic items of street furniture is increasingly obvious to those using the Hob Moor cycle path.

While most of the cycle barriers – installed to prevent access by motorcyclists – are galvanised and require little maintenance, some require regular painting.

They include this one near the former Our Lady’s school which is now heavily corroded. A few pounds spent now on paint would mean £100’s saved in a few years time.

Until recently problems like this were picked up by regular Ward Councillor inspections and funding for minor improvements was readily available through local street environment budgets. But arbitrary cuts have now left a void that isn’t even being filled by community payback type schemes.

All very short sighted.

York Pride takes another hit – salt bins

Beagle Ridge Drive

The Councils decision to leave salt bins out on the street over the summer looks increasingly unwise.

We warned a few months ago that the bins would be misused and vandalised.

Already the remaining salt which was in the bins has leached out damaging verge areas in some streets. In others (see right) the bins are being used for litter and rubbish. Cleaning out the bins will take longer and cost more than if they had been returned to the depot, cleaned and stored until next winter.

We understand that changes to Ward Committee funding could even mean that it may not be possible to fill the bins next winter anyway.

A local Councillor tells us, “Ward Committees are no longer able to fund salt bin provision but no one seems to know what will happen to them in the future.”

The 180 bins funded by the Highways Department will continue to be filled and Residents Associations can also decide to fund bins. …….but the 30 funded by the Ward Committee in Westfield might well remain empty because no one thought about the consequences of cutting Ward Budgets.