Small things affect a City’s image

There were some raised eyebrows yesterday when the Council announced that £40,000 from a “rates pooling system” would be spent on art initiatives on the Castle car park.  

The project was touted as being integral to the consultations still taking place on the future of the “Castle Gateway” area.

 That is the consultation which started off in an exemplary and inclusive way but which is now disappearing into a mass of self-contradictions and public agonising. 

Projecting artwork images onto Clifford’s Tower will tell us little more than we already know.

So, what could £40,000 buy that might make a bigger, and probably more sustained, difference to the York visitor economy?

The answer may lie in what you see when you look out of a train window when approaching the City. The Minster dominates the skyline but lower down we have a different picture.  We have our fair share of graffiti and weed infested public spaces.

It affects the image of the City and gives an impression of neglect.

The priority given to environmental crime by the Council can be seen in a report that its executive will receive next week. It reviews the successes and failures of the last year.

Littering and dog fouling don’t merit a mention. Prosecutions for those offences are rare

The number of graffiti cases does get a passing mention. There has been a recent upward trend in reports. N

o information is provided on the number of successful prosecutions.

Graffiti reports in York

It seems that people may have stopped reporting issues because the Council refuses to address those that are on “private property”. This includes boundary walls and telecoms junction cabinets. The real impact is probably much greater than the authorities will currently admit.

Some Councillors commendably are taking local initiatives.

In Dringhouses Cllr Stephen Fenton has been out with a graffiti removal kit.

Independent Councillor Mark Warters has called for the owners of street cabinets (companies like Virgin Media) to be more systematic in getting graffiti removed quickly.

The new LibDem administration has promised to reinstate the Street Environment Officer system which worked well during the last decade when dealing with environmental crime issues.

All these initiatives are welcome.

However, an initial clean-up of all graffiti in the City followed by the deployment of camera surveillance to identify any repeat offenders would be a good way to invest any LCR funds which may be available.

Hidden in open view?

We’ll get an idea of the calibre of the newly elected York Councillors this week when they begin to consider how to scrutinise the management performance of the local authority.

A series of updates are being presented.

A typical report is being tabled on housing and community safety issues on 24th June.   

Litter blights some neighbourhoods

What is immediately clear is that no performance indicators have been tabulated (or referenced out). Councillors aren’t being told how long it takes to do things, what any backlogs are, what quality checks are in place or what the levels of public satisfaction are.

Some of the information is available on York Open Data but you have to search for it. Many of the figures are not up to date.

Some major issues are not mentioned at all.  

Empty garages reduce local authority rent income

The housing section fails to even mention empty Council garages, tenants don’t feel they can influence decisions (most tenants organisations have folded) and there are delays on the Housing Estate Improvement programmes.

Similarly on community safety (mainly policing matters) anti-social behaviour in sub-urban areas hardly gets a mention. Trends in drug and alcohol abuse are not quantified. Vandalism, criminal damage, graffiti, all of which disfigure residential areas, are ignored. The trend in the number of prosecutions for this type of offence and similar environmental crimes (litter, dog fouling) is not revealed.

Graffiti scars some streets.

The challenge for new Councillors will be not so much to question the information that has been provided by officials, but more to probe the areas where reports are silent.

Another police appeal this time concerning an incident on Tudor Road

The police have emailed out the following information,

“On Friday 7th JUNE 2019 at around 20:15 hours a 17 year old female had been walking towards the CLOCK HOUSE PUB on TUDOR ROAD when a black van had been driving slowly behind her. The Driver shouted out the window to the female “YOU GOING TO GET IN THE CAR”, she thought this was strange as he was driving a van. As the female looked around the male said “NO YOU”. The female then said “NO”.

The female then crossed the road to go down the alley that leads onto MIDDLETON ROAD and the male pulls the can into her path, gets out of the van. The male then pushes the females left shoulder so the female hits the male round the head with a umbrella and runs towards the pub. The male then did a U turn in his van and drove back up TUDOR ROAD towards GALE LANE

Driver was described as white, around 55 years old, around 5ft 10 and scrawny build. He had spoken with a Yorkshire accent, had a pale complexion and was wearing a clear/ silver round glasses. He had a long white beard, white receding hair line and was wearing a grey coloured t shirt, black comber rain coat, black jeans and black boots.

No VRM was able to be obtained from the vehicle, however van is described as a small tatty black van, looked a little like a camper van with a side door, blacked out windows and the wheels had no alloys on”. 

If you have any information to assist officers please call 101 and quote incident number 12190103997 for the attention of PC 461.

Counter fraud team saves taxpayers £328,275 in York

Counter fraud work by the York Council saved taxpayers over £300,000 in York during the last year.

The figure is revealed in a report which will be considered by a Council committee next week.

The report reveals that it received 345 reports of possible fraudulent activity.

42% of the cases related to fraud in social care. 22% in Council tax/Rates, 18% related to housing fraud and 11 concerned benefit claims.

Officials also investigated the misuse of blue badges for parking. Officials claim that 84% of investigations were successful with two people prosecuted and a further 10 cautioned.

Three false applications for school placements were also halted.

In 2018/19 the team identified over £201,000 of losses to the council, for social care fraud. This was a 19% increase from the previous financial year. Over £137,000 of savings were produced which represents a substantial rise compared to 2017/18 (£38k).

Two people were prosecuted for fraudulently claiming monies, from the York Financial Assistance Scheme, that they did not require.

Man assaulted by three attackers on Foxwood cycle path

A man was left with injuries to his face after he was attacked on a cycle path in York.

Man assaulted by three attackers on York cycle path

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for witnesses and information about the incident, which occurred on Chesney Fields at around 12.05am on Saturday (25 May).

A man was walking home across the cycle path when three males approached and attacked him. The victim was left with facial injuries and the three suspects ran towards Gale Lane. Other members of the public stopped and provided first aid and reassurance until police arrived.

The victim was then taken to hospital where he was later released.

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

In particular, we are appealing for information about anyone who witnessed the incident occur or knows who is responsible.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for David Ellison. You can also email david.ellison0041@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 12190093733

Follow us on Twitter: @NYorksPolice
Date 25/05/2019Contact details:DAVE ELLISON – #0041 
david.ellison0041@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk | 07741174815Incident reference:12190093733

Local policing: North Yorkshire’s Community Messaging reaches 30,000 members as new and improved smartphone app is launched

North Yorkshire Police’s innovative community messaging system has reached 30,000 members as it re-launches with a new smartphone app.

North Yorkshire Community Messaging is a free system that lets people register to receive the latest crime notifications and community news in their neighbourhoods.

The new and improved app, available to download for iOS and Android devices, takes advantage of geolocation technology, allowing users to receive important alerts that are relevant to them – wherever they are in North Yorkshire.

The app also allows member of the public to share relevant alerts that they have received to their friends and family by email, WhatsApp, instant messaging sand social media.

More than 30,000 people across the county are now signed up to receive alerts and in the last year, 4,296 alerts were sent out by North Yorkshire Police to the public, businesses, and Rural and Neighbourhood Watch groups across the across the county.

This equates to a staggering 3,342,235 messages reaching the public across all channels including email, the previous app, SMS, social media and the website.

Members of the public who sign up to the system can tailor preferences for the type of the message they receive, their preferred channel (phone, text, or email) and the locations that matter to them. Topics include:

•         Crime and other police incidents, including missing people and witness appeals;

•         Rural policing, including crimes against farms and rural businesses;

•         Anti-social behaviour;

•         Road safety, including road closures and traffic updates; and

•         Neighbourhood news and events, such as invitations to public meetings.

They can also opt to receive push notifications straight to their smartphones and tablets from the app if they wish.

Assistant Chief Constable Ciaron Irvine, lead in force for Local Policing at North Yorkshire Police, said:

“Local policing is at the very heart of everything we do at North Yorkshire Police and our Community Messaging system is just one of the many ways we’re trying to provide the right support, at the right time to our communities.

“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams already use community messaging to raise awareness of recent crime trends, highlight the availability of property marking sessions, and inform the public about upcoming crime prevention operations with over 4,000 alerts sent in the last year.

“In addition, the geolocation function on the new app is a particularly useful tool in rural areas, where alerts can be shared to an audience across a wide area very quickly.

“We’re extremely proud to reach 30,000 members on Community Messaging and would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who takes the time to provide information and intelligence in relation to crime and anti-social behaviour in their area.

“Day in and day out you help us to make a difference in North Yorkshire – we couldn’t do it without you.”

If you are already a member

If you are already a member and would like to download the new app, just search “Everbridge” via the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and Google Play for Android devices and then search for “North Yorkshire”. The App will then link you to North Yorkshire Community Messaging specific notifications.

Alternatively, please visit nycm.co.uk.

If you are not a member but would like to sign up

Signing up to North Yorkshire Community Messaging is free, easy, and takes less than five minutes. Just visit nycm.co.uk on a smartphone or PC to get started.

Alternatively, to download the app and sign up please visit the App Store for iPhone and iPad, and Googl

Appeal following assault on Cornlands Road

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for witnesses and information about a violent incident that occurred in York on Cornlands Road.

It happened at about 8am on 17 May 2019 and involved two women in their 20s.

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

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.

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

Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number NYP-17052019-0084.

Foxwood woman fined for dog offence

Two women sentenced following noise complaints against dogs

Two dog owners in York were ordered to pay a total of £2421.74 by York Magistrates on 7 May after failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice.

Lesley Smith (aged 62 of Hinton Avenue, Foxwood, York) received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2016 following continuous disturbances from her four dogs in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Smith’s dogs were also left outside for up to two hours on an evening, causing further noise disturbance to the neighbours despite numerous warnings, an abatement notice and a caution being issued.

City of York Council Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers carried out surveillance of a property belonging to Samantha Flower (aged 42 of Lincoln Street, Leeman Road, York), after they received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2017.

Council officers employed noise monitoring equipment and noted over 15 barks in one minute after 11pm during a visit to Miss Flower’s property in February 2019.

Appearing at York Magistrates on 7 May, Miss Flower pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £120, ordered to pay costs of £100 as well as a surcharge of £30.

Ms Smith pleaded guilty by post to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £450, ordered to pay costs of £1676.94 as well as a surcharge of £45.

Speed cameras still focus on York southern by pass

The latest results from the county’s speed safety camera vans reveal that the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits is stable.
Safety camera van

In York, the vans have concentrated their activities on the A64 southern by pass, where it is not unusual for several dozen speeders to be identified

On one day in February – the latest month for which stats are available – 29 speeders were caught on the A64 westbound near Fulford

North York’s Police are not publishing results as quickly as they have in the past

A separate programme of speed checks, which measures the average speed of vehicles on problem roads, hasn’t been updated this year. These checks involve the use of static equipment. They do not identify individual vehicles.

Roads in the York area waiting for checks – and subsequent remedial action – include:

  • Hawthorn Terrace
  • Hamilton Drive (20 mph)
  • York Road, Dunnington
  • Ox Carr Lane, Strensall
  • Bracken Road
  • Salisbury Terrace
  • Ullswater
  • Lords Moor Lane, Strensall
  • Church Lane, Bishopthorpe
  • Alcuin Avenue
  • Bad Bargain Lane
  • Osbaldwick Lane
  • Temple Avenue
  • Fourth Avenue
  • Towthorpe Road
  • Scarcroft Road

Most of these roads don’t have any recorded injury accidents. None are routinely checked by the enforcement camera vans.

And that remains the problem with the vehicle speed limit enforcement. The expensive camera vans may be influencing average speeds, but the police make no attempt to demonstrate this.

They don’t even publish comparative stats showing the trend in the percentage of speeders at regularly monitored sites.

Within the next few years it is likely that all new vehicles will be fitted with technology which will not only confirm the prevailing speed limit on a dashboard display, but also offer the opportunity for remote enfacement.

That may be a challenge for civil liberties but it could finally rein in the 100 mph plus drivers whose behaviour often irritates other motorists.

Speed/Safety camera results
Vehicle average speeds on York roads