‘One stop advice service’ for York residents

Funding for a shared citywide system to make access to advice and information on money management, benefits, employment and housing far easier for residents through a ‘one stop advice service’, has been announced.

The service is being funded by nearly £250,000 from the joint Cabinet Office and Big Lottery Advice Service Transition Fund, awarded to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in York, and £80,000 from City of York Council.
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LibDems “Green Deal” project will aid over 1000 low income York residents

Vulnerable residents in York could be offered additional grant funding towards their energy bills over the next three years and beyond, if Labour Councillors endorse a Liberal Democrat policy which is being considered by the local “Cabinet” on 2nd April.

We hope that they will.

Hopefully local anti poverty campaigners will also welcome the news (and say so publicly!)

green-deal-approved-294385

The “Green Deal” fulfils another pledge contained in the Liberal Democrat 2010 election manifesto which said, we will “offer a home energy improvement package … paid for by the savings from lower energy bills”. For background click here.

The Green Deal is one of the Government’s flagship initiatives which will operate by providing energy efficiency and other works at no up-front cost to the householder across all tenures and businesses.

Details can be found by clicking here

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Labour back down on Green Bin Tax – but a second bin will cost £35 to empty!

The Liberal Democrat campaign to stop Labour introducing a charge for emptying green bins has been successful.

A report to the Councils Cabinet says that there will be no charge for emptying one bin at each property.

Green bin petition

However the service will not be available between November and March (when less than 17% of green waste is collected). The Council hopes to save around £67,000 by discontinuing this part of the service.

A survey undertaken by the Council revealed that only 14.5% support a charge. That compares to 96% who responded to our survey in the Westfield area who were opposed to a charge.

There are over 5000 additional green bins in use at properties with large gardens. The Council hopes that around 3500 residents will pay £35 a year to have these second bins emptied.

The majority of respondents to the Councils survey supported having a combined food and green waste collection. In other parts of the country this has reduced landfill volumes by 15% and officers are to look further at how this could be introduced in York.

The Council is also to close the Towthorpe recycling centre on one day a week. It appears that they have still not learnt the lesson that closing the Beckfield Lane centre should have taught them (inconvenience means increased landfill volumes).

The Council claim that their online/telephone survey attracted about 1000 responses.

It was attacked as misleading as it failed to explain that changes to the current arrangements would have been unnecessary if the Council had decided to scrap some of its more extravagant plans like establishing an “arts barge” on the Ouse.

Low paid get budget boost – LibDem promise delivered

Anyone with income below £10,000 will not pay income tax from next April.

£700 tax cut for poor

2.7 million extra will not be paying income tax and 24.5 million will be paying £700 less tax than under Labour.

The higher tax rate at 45% is still more than was applied during most of the term of office of the last Labour government

The budget includes a boost for house buyers and is better news for house builders.

A summary of today’s budget changes can be found be clicking here.

Labour cut road maintenance by 32% in York

Since taking office Labour Councillors have reduced investment in road and footpath maintenance in the City by 32%.

Newly released figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the amount invested in each of the last 3 years.

2010 – £6,510,000 (LibDem leadership budget)

2011 – £6,388,000 (LibDem budget)

2012 – £4,428,000 (Labour budget).

The Council has listed the streets affected by road works in each of the 3 years (click to access individual years)

2010

2011

2012

In their 2011 local election manifest Labour promised to spend more on road repairs!

Labour road repair promise

Labour cut waste collection, road maintenance, community centres, libraries, elderly persons homes, ice clearance, job training and Social Services.

Cuts to street level services click to enlarge

Cuts to street level services click to enlarge

Labour’s hopelessly misjudged Council budget proposals are set to be approved tonight. Cuts to all front line public services are planned yet

Labour also intend to retain a £1 million a year “slush fund” which is used to pay for a range of inessential “vanity” projects.

The £1 million this year has been used to pay for lighting and firework displays, free WiFi access in the City centre, a plan to open the Bonding warehouse as a “digital media hub”, building design competitions, an “innovation catalyst” programme; not to mention the occasional foreign travel trip.

More waste is evident in the Councils capital programme where commitments to introducing an unnecessary Citywide 20 mph speed limit and the purchase of a barge for use as an arts centre have seen interest payments, on borrowed money, double since Labour took control of the Council.

Abandoning these “vanity” projects and making good use of the reduced running costs (down by £375,000) of its new HQ would allow the Council to restore many of the most damaging cuts.

Labour’s key proposals would see:

A 1.9% hike in Council tax levels (despite central government offering to underwrite the costs of a freeze)

• Privatisation or outsourcing of leisure/swimming pool management the Warden Call service and the “Sheltered housing with extra care” service. Even the Mansion House will be commercialised

Grants to Museums Trust cut by £100,000, the Theatre Royal by £101,000 with similar % cuts other voluntary sector bodies

• At a time when people are rightly worried following revelations about meat quality, trading standards faces a £42,000 cut, while there will be less air quality monitoring.

• There will be less for job training as Future Prospects loses £150,000

• The closure of elderly persons homes will be brought forward meaning that some residents face double moves before new accommodation is completed. In 2014 pensioners will face a 90p charge when using their passes on Park and Ride services

Disabled facilities at Greenworks and Brunswick Nursery cut by £50,000 Supported employment budget cut by £200,000 forcing disabled people into “mainstream employment”

Social Service clients with personal budgets will lose out from a £500,000 budget cut

Looked after children – basically those with foster parents – face a £700,000 cut with another £400,000 to come off in 2014.

Respite services get a £50,000 reduction.

Children’s centres face a £128,000 cut in 2014

• The toy library bus will scrapped in 2014

Some reductions in expenditure were inevitable.

Labour have simply chosen to economise on the wrong services.

Meanwhile there are some concerns about the likely quality of tonights Council debate

Jobs to go under York Library Cuts

library cartoon-24

Labour run City of York Council has admitted that jobs will be lost under plans to remove libraries from public ownership and cut funding by £450,000.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Democrats launched a survey on Labour’s controversial plans which have been dubbed ‘privatization’ by UNISON and attacked by staff. The plans would see a ‘community benefit society’ takeover the running of the library and archive service in York.

Labour had previously admitted that libraries could be closed under a relocation programme and job losses were likely. Now, the first details of the cuts are emerging. As part of Labour’s £450,000 budget reductions, a total of 19 posts will be lost with 7 members of staff leaving altogether and another 12 moving elsewhere under plans to abolish Saturday Assistants and Reading and Information Advisors.

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Petition against green bin emptying tax started

York Liberal Democrats have launched a petition against Labour’s plans to introduce charging for green bin collections. It can be found here

Green Bin

The Council is asking residents to complete an “on line” questionaire. Click here to find it.

Remember though that it is the Labour Council that has decided to “save” £250,000 from the waste collection budget. They could – and in our view should – have looked to make the savings from other budgets such as abandoning the provision of “free” WiFi services in the City centre and cancelling the the introduction of the unnecessary 20 city wide speed limit

The background information papers pointedly fail to tell residents how much additional Landfill Tax the Authority will have to pay if, as expected, the amount of green waste put in grey bins increases. Any increased landfill payments would be passed on to all Council Taxpayers – not just those with gardens.

At last week’s Cabinet meeting the ruling Labour Group agreed to bring forward plans that could involve charging for garden waste collections (either all year round or between March and November), charges for additional garden bins, or stopping all winter collections.

City of York Council has refused to confirm how much the fees will be or what the impact will be on recycling rates and Landfill Tax. After the controversial closure of Beckfield Lane Tip last year, the Council is missing recycling targets and a report last week admitted that the authority was “underperforming” slipping to 260th in recent recycling performance tables for England. Meanwhile, missed targets mean Landfill Tax is due to reach a record £3 million this year.

In Derby, the Labour run Council are planning to charge residents £40 per year to have a garden waste bin and £20 for each additional bin, while in Newcastle 40,000 residents returned their bins after the Council introduced fees.

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, commented:

“We fear that introducing a charge for green bins will further increase Landfill Tax charges and fly-tipping while recycling rates will fall. Labour are focussed on the short-term income generated from charging residents, but have made no budget provision for paying more Landfill Tax or for clearing up more fly-tipping.

“The move also breaks a promise to residents. When alternate weekly collections were rolled out the Council entered into a contract with residents. In exchange for a reduced grey waste collection residents would be encouraged to recycle and provided with a suitable collection regime and containers to do so. This meant that under the Lib Dem administration recycling rates increased from 12% to 43%. Charging for green waste breaks this contract and is effectively an extra tax on residents who want to do the right thing and recycle.”

NB. The Council is also planning to reduce the operating hours of the Towthorpe recycling centre and to ask all those using the Hazel Court and Towthorpe facilities to produce proof of being a York resident before being allowed free access to the sites!

Budget

We are just one week
from Budget day, and I need your help.

As you may have seen in Nick Clegg’s excellent PMQs today, Liberal Democrats in
Government are fighting to make sure this Budget will deliver major changes to
our tax system; putting money back in your pocket and making the richest pay
more.

And we need to spread the word. Letus know what you’d do with an extra £60 in your wages every month, share it
with your friends and also see how many people in your area will benefit.
 
Let’s deliver real tax cuts for the hard working people in Britain who are
playing by the rules, and call time on Gordon Brown’s tax-dodger charter.
 
Did you know hundreds of people with seven-figure incomes are using armies of
accountants to avoid billions of pounds in taxes? Tycoons should no longer be
allowed to get away with it.
 
It’s time for a Budget for the millions, not millionaires. And one that will repair
the damage caused to our economy by Labour.
 
Remember, Liberal Democrats have already made sure 900,000 pensioners and low
paid workers have been lifted out of income tax all together, and 23million
people have been given a tax cut. But it is time to go further and faster.
 
Tell us what you’d do with your tax cut and see how many people in your area it
would help:
 
www.60pounds.org