Weed spraying inspection lists obtained by York Councillor

Osbaldwick Councillor Mark Warters has obtained a copy of the schedules used to check on the progress being made with weed control spraying in York this summer.

Inspection report extract

They reveal that only a small proportion of roads were checked by local officials. A substantial payment has been made to the contractors based on this evidence.

Surprisingly those that were checked apparently showed signs of weed “die back”. This contrasts with some of the photographic evidence accumulated by local residents.

The list confirms that many streets and surrounding areas were not included on the spraying lists.

The main issue now relates to how next years weed control programme will be managed.

Contrasting views on the effectiveness of weed control programmes in the Westfield area

Local Plan inquiry dates set. Askham Bog appeal imminent

A planning appeal into the York Council’s refusal to allow a development near Askham Bog will start on 12th November.

Askham Bog in autumn

The potential developers (Barwood Land) refused to wait for the results of the public hearing into the York Local Plan (which protects the area near Moor Lane in Dringhouses from development). Instead they have pressed ahead with their planning application.

The Local Plan Inspectors are now preparing for the first stage of hearings, which will address legal compliance including the Duty to Co-operate, Housing Need and Green Belt. Provisional dates have been agreed with the Inspectors for these initial hearings to be held on selected days over a two week period, commencing on Monday 9 December 2019 at York Racecourse.

 The Inspectors will shortly be issuing the Council with their Matters, Issues and Questions (MIQs) which will be published on the examination library (link above) along with the Council’s response to these questions. The Inspectors will also produce a hearing timetable giving more detail on the hearing sessions including the schedule for each day.

 Representors (all those who commented on the Plan during the Regulation 19 Publication consultation and the Proposed Modifications Consultation) will be given the required formal notice (6 weeks) when the dates and venue have been finalised.

We will also update the examination library with these dates and will issue a press release with details of the dates and venue and where to find more information.

A59 weeds finally gone..leaf clearance starts,

Its taken over 4 months, but weed growth has finally been cleared from the drainage channels on the A59 near Poppleton. The work, undertaken yesterday by Council staff, has improved the appearance of this key entry into the City

Weeds on the A59 reported in early July
A59 gutters clear of weeds (17th October 2019)
The only area left to treat is the slip road onto Longfield Lane.

It remains unclear how far the Councils weed control contractors have got with their “3rd application” of weed killer.

Attention will now switch to the autumn leaf removal programme. This is due to start on Monday. It will last for about 8 weeks.

Councillors have been briefed in the following terms,

“The leaf clearance will be undertaken using both mechanical and manual means.

We will have two trailer drawn leaf vacuums, our teams will use these to remove leaves from pavements and grass verges.

Our two large mechanical sweepers will be targeted at streets with trees, using the local knowledge of our staff, members and reports made by residents.

These leaves cannot be recycled because they are cleared from nearby or on the roads and are treated as contaminated waste.

As always we cannot see and clear every street at one time, so we would be grateful for the following

  1. If you aware of leaves that are causing a ‘danger’ i.e. on a major footpath, near a school, elderly persons home etc.  and are wet and slippery, please report these to member enquiries, if not a ‘danger’ please monitor and we will get there!
  • Once the main leaf fall is over, if there are leaves, which appear to have been missed, please pass these through member enquires.

You may be interested to know that the Communities and Equalities team, who work with volunteers across the city have recently ‘enrolled’ about a dozen volunteer leaf clearers.

They are also working with volunteers from Goodgym to clear leaves from large grassed areas in the parks and these are recycled in leaf bays within the parks”.

Waste collection review in York

Un-emptied bins in Foxwood 2012
Against the background of chronic unreliability on refuse collections in the City, it was hoped that a long outstanding review would offer some hope of improvement.

The review report has now been published (click).

The report starts by saying “Decisions about waste collection methodology impact upon the specification of replacement waste vehicles, the replacement of which is imperative to the sustainability of the service”

In truth, new vehicles should have been purchased months ago. They weren’t and as a result breakdown are a major cause of the decline in reliability standards. The report offers little hope of early, decisive action.

The report concludes that separate food waste collection is not necessary. This is because food waste forms part of the anaerobic digestion process at the Allerton processing site. It is part of a process which results in power being generated from waste.

Similar arguments are advanced against the mixed collection of recyclables.

The report talks about a further review of recycling bring banks “to stop collecting the same materials as door step collection, but focus on materials not collected at the door step” The authors seems to be oblivious to the fact that many residents are forced to use the bring banks because of lack of capacity in the doorstep service.

“The current recycling arrangements are that Yorwaste process the recylclates at the Harewood Whin Material Recycling Facility and sell the products to market. The current gross cost of recycling is £725k however this is offset by the recyclate sales that total c£600k”.

The report fails to identify the “lead in time” for the purchase of new vehicles. There are no milestones.  It lacks any analysis of the number of missed bin collections or their causes. It fails to say when sustained improvement could be expected.

Altogether it amounts a bit of public posturing with no apology to the taxpayers who are being inconvenienced each day by vehicle breakdowns and trucks reaching their capacity limits.

Today’s failure report reveals that green waste wasn’t collected from part of the Heworth area because of inadequate “vehicle capacity”

Daily reports on missed bin collections can be found via this link click

Street cleansing problems highlighted at meeting

Litter problems on areas like the Foxwood shops were discussed at a residents meeting yesterday. The residents were told that the street cleansing service was having difficulty in recruiting staff. Local Councillor Simon Daubeney reported that a new litter bin would be provided opposite the shops at the end of Hatfield Walk.
We’ve asked for new springs to be provided on the gates to the football pitch area on Foxwood Park. The old ones are broken allowing the gates to swing open. In turn this allows unsupervised access for dogs. Dog fouling on nearby footpaths is a continuing issue.
It’s reached the time of year when tree detritus and ripe fruit can fall in significant quantities onto some foot and cycle paths. This is potentially hazardous. We’ve reported problems on the Bellhouse Way path between Acomb Wood Drive and the Foxwood Park.
The path is also obstructed by overhanging tree branches

Carbon emission sources in York revealed

It appears that a meeting held 2 days ago was given a table showing estimated carbon emission levels for various activities in York.

The table has only today been published to residents by the York Council.

As it turns out the latest figures available are from 2016. The world has changed a lot in the last 3 years.

The table reveals that the biggest source of CO2 emissions in the City is domestic heating. This will hearten those who have supported the adoption of “Passivhaus” high insulation standards in homes.

There is an opportunity for the Council to make a real difference here as improved home insulation also disproportionately benefits poorer residents by reducing energy bills. We look forward to seeing a project plan with identified milestones.

A Press article today highlighted diesel trains as an emissions threat. In reality, they account for less than 1% of all local emissions.

CO2 emissions, per capita, substantially reduced in York during the 11 years that were monitored.

Fall-out from Balloon Fiesta noise complaints

The Council has admitted that it received a lot of complaints about noise levels experienced during the Balloon Fiesta which took place on the Knavesmire at the end of September.

The noise complaints didn’t relate to the balloons themselves (which mostly failed to get off the ground because of weather conditions).

The event was organised by Events and Attractions Limited, a York based company.

Officials of the Council firmly put the blame for lack of control on the premises license holder for the Knavesmire. This they identify as “Make it York”.

 Make it York is the secretive QUANGO set up by the Council several years ago to run tourism and promotional events in the City.  

Make it York were apparently told that a statutory noise nuisance was witnessed by Council officials over weekend of the 27th and 28th September.

According to an email seen by a local Councillor,

Make it York were asked to provide details of how they were going to prevent any further recurrences of noise nuisance from events at the Knavesmire and they have, as a result, submitted an application for a minor variation to the existing  premises licence. This application requests that an additional condition is added to the existing premises licence and will require Make it York to submit a noise management plan for approval by City of York Council within two months of the licence being varied. Once approved the noise management plan would be implemented immediately for any events held on the Knavesmire and operated under the premises licence”.

“It is anticipated that any submitted noise management plan will identify all potential noise sources associated with events taking place on the and provide details on strategies which will be implemented to minimise the disturbance caused to residents from those sources, especially those activities where amplified music is involved. It is also anticipated that any submitted noise management plan will also detail methods for monitoring and controlling the noise and how Make it York will respond to any noise complaint received in the future.

 As a result of the above it is the view of officers in Public Protection that such a condition should, if implemented correctly and adhered to, result in any noise from events taking place on the Knavesmire, and operated under the premises licence, being reduced to a satisfactory level such that it shouldn’t cause any further noise nuisance”.

The issue comes to a head at a difficult time for tourism support organisations in the region. “Welcome to Yorkshire” had to sack their Chief Executive following allegations of extravagance. The organisation subsequently had to be bailed out by taxpayers with a new Chairman promising more transparency in the future.

Make it York” is likely to be subject to similar calls.

It receives a substantial taxpayer subsidy, but its meetings are held behind closed doors.

The only sliver of accountability comes through brief and infrequent updates to a Council committee. The Council nominates two representatives to the Make it York 12 person Board (currently Cllrs Mason and Taylor)

According to the organisation’s web site, “The current turnover of Make It York is around £4.8 million per annum, generated commercially from a range of revenue sources. Other than any dividends payable to the Shareholder, any surplus is invested back into the city.

With respect to its corporate structure, Make It York is a private limited company limited by shares and has an independent Board of Directors.

 Its sole Shareholder is City of York Council”

Progress on unearthing traffic islands

We reported earlier in the summer that several traffic island had become overgrown. This was partly due to an accumulation of silt. It appears that the islands were not being hand-swept.

The Council is now beginning to catch up with a programme aimed at clearing the islands of detritus. Those on Foxwood Lane, for example, are now looking tidy.

A more structured approach to street cleansing is needed though as some islands, including those on the A1237, are not being routinely cleansed

Street cleansing standards on the Chapelfields estate do vary a lot.

Elsewhere the Foxwood Residents Association is set to discuss street cleansing standards in their neighbourhood at their monthly meeting which is being held tomorrow. Residents have questioned whether the sweeping frequencies, promised by the Council on its web site, are actually being undertaken.

Maps showing how often individual streets should be manually or mechanically cleansed are published on the Councils web site.

Action needed, Action taken

Mixed outlook on several outstanding public service issues in west York

We’ve reported a broken utility sign at the top of Grange Lane
Exposed cables have been tied to street signs in Milner Street for several weeks now.
Graffiti and litter continue to blight the Grange Lane snickets
We’ve suggested that hard core be used to make footpaths in the Grange Lane Westfield Park usable in wet weather
New record holder for the largest weed award. This 3 metre monster in Dijon Avenue next to a telegraph pole.
Loose rubbish continues to blight the rear of Front Street
Overgrown snicket on Gale Lane becoming a crime concern. We”ve asked the Ward Councillors to act.
Reported yet again litter, detritus and weeds on the Tithe Close snicket. Issue recorded by the Council as “solved” Clearly not!
Weeds flourishing on Hotham Avenue
….and Foxwood Lane
….and School Street

….But weeds cleared from Dijon Avenue garage area by Council. Now looks very tidy.