Graffiti , bins and footpaths reported

The Council is dealing promptly now with graffiti reports. The new system seems to be working well.

Graffiti on litter bin on little Hob Moor
Graffiti on a utility box also on little Hob Moor. Reports like these are passed on to the utility company but there is rarely a quick response. We think that the utility companies should ask the Council to clean the boxes on a rechargeable basis.
Footpaths in Newbury Avenue need reconstructing now that the new bungalows are almost ready for occupation. The damaged verge on the Newbury Avenue/Kingsway West junction needs to be repaired at the same time.
We’ve reported the full poop scoop bin at the entrance to Acomb Wood
Still waiting to hear when the public footpath at the top of Osprey Close will be reinstated. A local Councillor is now on the case.

Council blocks popular footpath link

Over the last few days contractors have been working on the Council owned section of Acomb Wood near the top of Osprey Close.

They put some hard core down near the entrance gate (good) but they have left a large spoil heap blocking the popular footpath access to the wood.

They have also erected Council owned barriers on the PROW footpath link to Acomb Moor and Foxwood Lane beyond.

As well as the spoil heap, the actions of a tractor have reduced the path to an impassable quagmire. A spectacularly bad time of year to undertaken work like this.

It is unclear who is responsible for the work (the farmer has a right of access but he usually accesses his field direct from Askham Lane).

Paths in the Council owned section of Acomb Wood get very muddy. Their condition contrast with the well maintained – by volunteers – section of the wood on the other side of the road.

Only the Council would have any reason to work on this land – which is a publicly owned amenity area – but to do so without any warning or consultation is remarkably insensitive.

The residents association are planning to discuss the issue at their meeting next week.

There is scope for putting down hardcore on other sections of the popular footpath which goes through the Council owned part of Acomb Wood and which gets very muddy in places.

Hydro electric power generation scheme at Naburn set to be approved

The Councils planning committee is being recommended to approve an application which would see York see its first modern hydro electric power generation on the river Ouse.

The generators would be sited near Naburn Lock.

The proposal comprises two Archimedes screw turbines, a multi-species fish pass, a turbine house building, hydraulic channels, trash screening and access improvements. The scheme is expected to generate a peak power output of less than 500kW and an average annual energy production of 1.2 GWh. The applicant states that this is sufficient to power around 310 homes and provides an effective CO2e saving of around 620 tonnes per year.

The intake would be situated within the island Application Reference Number: 18/02552/FUL Item No: 4b bank just upstream of the weir, with water passing through coarse trash screening before arriving at the sluice gates and turbine house. The screw turbines would discharge into an outfall channel that re-joins the main river just downstream of the weir. A new fish pass will be constructed along the left-hand side of the hydropower scheme.

Naburn Lock is located on the River Ouse in a rural location to the south of Naburn village. The construction of the locks took place in 1757 and 1888 and has created an island upon which is located the workshops, stores and offices associated with the operation and maintenance of the lock. There was formerly a water mill on the island (constructed between 1813 and 1817) which fell out of use around 1955 and was demolished in 1958.

The locks themselves are listed at Grade II (“Old and New Lock”). Directly to the east lies the Naburn Banqueting House, a vacant Grade II listed building, together with the lock keeper’s house. Access to the site is along a single track road from Naburn Lane, which also serves the Naburn Lock caravan park, located to the east.

Naburn Lock is accessible to members of the public and there is a car park and information board at the end of the access road.

The application will be determined on 16th January

More recycling put out today than Council could collect

Street cleansing issues also increase following holiday break

The Council says that the volume of recycling put out today on the west of the City exceeded the capacity of its collection vehicles. Their waste update website can be viewed by clicking here They hope to catch up tomorrow(Wednesday)

We’ve submitted numerous reports of litter across the area. This may partly be due to insecure recycling arrangements. 

Hopefully residents will help to get the area looking smart again by undertaken  some volunteer litter picks.

Hedges – A good time to check if they need trimming

There were a lot of problems during the summer with hedges obstructing public paths. In some cases, the obstructions were caused by Council owned trees and bushes. The jury is still out on whether new processes and budget allocations announced earlier this week will result in an improvement during 2020.

Hedges on the boundary of private gardens and the public highway (including foot and cycle paths) are the responsibility of the hedge owner. Home occupiers must ensure that the highway is kept clear of obstructions at all times

Obstructions can be a significant problem for some users. The partially sighted are at a particular risk and cyclists being “swiped” by stray branches can lead to more serious accidents.

In some cases thorn buses like brambles and roses overhang paths representing an added hazard.

Thorn bush branches at eye height are a particular risk

Sadly, like the problems with damage to verges, in recent years the Council has been tardy in ensuring that hedges are cut back from paths. They do have enforcement powers which have been used in the past to force action. In extreme cases hedges have been cut back to the path line after notice periods have expired. The owners were charged for the work.

No such notices have been issued recently.

Of course, some occupiers may not be physically able to cut badly overgrown hedges. It has been suggested that this is a service area that a “not for profit” start-up could usefully exploit. There are already several local gardening companies which offer trimming services.

Even the Councils own cycle tracks were obstructed last summer

With leaves now off trees and hedges, winter is the optimum time to deal with long standing problems. This needs to be done before the start of the bird nesting season.

The Council also has powers to require its tenants to cut garden hedges as do social landlords.

We have advocated for some time the appointment of a paths supervisor who could trim back Council owned hedges and initiate action against irresponsible neighbours who cause obstructions. We hope that the Council will fund such a post in its new budget.

We hope to see some well publicised action from West Offices over the next few weeks.

Issues reported in west York today

Hedges need cutting back during winter
More potholes
Snickets need sweeping
Verges need tidying up and damaged equipment replaced.
Fly tipping needs removing
Another one for the new graffiti removal team
Acomb Moor damaged stile still not repaired. We understand that local Councillors are dealing
Council bus shelters are filthy

Dumping and litter blights nature area

“Investment in waste and environment services to include additional staffing on waste rounds, improved city centre cleaning and effective weed control”. That’s what the York Council is promising in their newly published budget for next year.

In total – over two years – an additional £1 million will be found for a new system of “neighbourhood working”.

This, says the Council, will “improve the waste collection service to residents by increasing the number of green waste collections, adding two extra green waste collections each March from 2021 onwards.

The pilot of 3 free replacement boxes per property will continue and be made permanent.

The Council will develop neighbourhood working models across public realm and waste to better respond to the communities needs building on the success of local management, ownership and responsibility elsewhere in the council.

The Council will work with York Business Improvement District to review how city centre cleansing can be improved. The resilience of the services will be improved by removing the reliance on fixed term staff.

In addition they will invest in the weed control service to increase the areas treated and, in response to the world wide ongoing challenge about the use of glyphosate,  will trial alternative methods for dealing with weeds such as foams etc”.

The proposal is short on detail but improvements in cleaning services can’t come soon enough for some sub-urban areas.

Several amenity areas are now overwhelmed by fly tipping and litter.

The Westfield/Grange Lane park and adjacent nature area is a case in point and is particularly bad at present.

Westfield Park which is located between Grange Lane and Westfield Place

T

York flood prevention update

The Council will receive an update report on the progress with flood prevention works at a meeting taking place on 13th January 2020.

Flooding in late December 2015 followed an intense period of rainfall across November and December due to the impacts of Storms Desmond and Eva. Record river levels were observed in many river catchments across the north of England. More than 4000 homes and 2000 businesses flooded across Yorkshire with 453 properties and 174 businesses flooded in York

Funding was allocated to the Environment Agency (EA) following the floods to renew existing and provide new flood defences across the city, £28m has been allocated to the Foss Barrier improvements and £45m to the wider flood defences across the city.

The Yorkshire Future Flood Resilience Pathfinder project led by City of York Council has recruited three Flood Resilience Project Officers who are in the early stages of the development of a range of demonstration and awareness materials that will be used to build flood resilience across Yorkshire.

That was the year that was – April – June 2019

It was to be a good Spring mainly due to the efforts of volunteers across the community.

Volunteers clear up litter as part of the national Keep Britain Tidy spring campaign
Acomb Wood

Volunteer efforts also helped to conserve key environmental sites like local woodland.

Vandalised fencing

Crime levels rose with anti social behaviour once again the biggest source of complaint in sub urban areas.

Scarborough footbridge

Work progressed on a £4 million cycle/pedestrian footbridge linking the railway station to Bootham. Its opening later in the year was to highlight the fact that the City still had a long way to go before it had a comprehensive, and safe, cycle route network.

Lendal Bridge

Another bridge over the Ouse attracted comment. Corrosion on Lendal Bridge served to emphasis the on going cost of maintaining the transport infrastructure in the City

Potholes on carriageways

By far the worst aspect of the transport system was the condition of roads and paths. Potholes became more pronounced in many streets. The maintenance budget was to be increased later in the year but by then frost had already taken its toll

Full recycling containers

There was little change in the recycling rate in York. There was no lack of enthusiasm from residents who regularly filled recycling banks to the point where some overflowed.

Goal posts on Westfield Park

Some simple tasks seemed to confuse the York Council. A request for the goals posts on a local park to be repainted has been outstanding now for 2 years.

Scarborough Bridge

Another area of poor performance earlier in the year was the removal of graffiti. Following sustained criticism from residents, the Council was to completely change its graffiti removal service later in the year. Early results have been encouraging although there have been no recent prosecutions for graffiti (criminal damage).

Balfour Street trees

A self seeded tree in Balfour Street had grown to the point where it was engulfing the adjacent railings and damaging the public footpath. This represented a safety hazard. It would be two years after the problem was first reported before the tree was felled. The felling provided space for two replacement trees to be planted.

Changes made to redevelopment plans for Bowling Green site
Acomb Bowling Club
Site compound

The Council granted planning permission for the (privately owned) Acomb Bowling Club to be demolished and replaced with housing. The owners were required to make a Section 106 contribution towards replacement facilities but this money found its way into a club located in the Holgate area.

Meanwhile, without any consultation with residents, Council officials agreed that land earmarked for a library extension could be used as a site compound and spoil heap. This caused considerable annoyance to some neighbours.

The Council published details of the number of Council homes that were affected by “standing water” . The number had changed little over the years.

On a happier note, the highly successful, Knights Rugby community team organised community events during the Easter holidays.

With the local elections on the horizon the Council revealed the number of issues that had been recorded by Councillors during the previous 4 years. Mostly those who raised the most issues were the Councillors who got re-elected in May.

Labour, LibDem and Green Council candidates. Some Tories weren’t on speaking terms.

There was big choice of candidates in the local elections.

The election manifestos were more significant for what they didn’t say rather than what was proposed. The slow progress on the Community Stadium was air brushed from history, as was the escalating costs of repairing the Guildhall.

In the end, the results showed major gains for the, now 21 strong, LibDem Group who subsequently formed a partnership with the Greens to run the Council.

The Tories fell to their second worst election result ever while Labour made only modest gains.

A few weeks later the LibDems topped the poll in the Euro elections in the City beating off a challenge from the BREXIT party. It was to be a different picture though later in the year when views polarised during an unexpected General Election campaign.

Euro election results June 2019
Castlegate

The Council was criticised for the large number of commercial properties which it owned and which had been left empty. These included former elderly persons homes like Oakhaven & Willow House together with offices like those on Castlegate. The properties were costing taxpayers several hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in lost rent income and maintenance costs.

Camera Van

The Police and Crime Commissioner was criticised for an over reliance on income from speed camera vans. The 6 vans concentrated on trunk roads apparently because that was where the greatest number of offenders could be caught and fined. Critics said that accident and average speed trends on monitored roads should be published. This would allow the the success of the initiative to be judged

Woodthorpe Post Office Closure

It wasn’t just the central Post Office that was under threat. The Woodthorpe sub Post Office closed suddenly.

Minster precinct

A new neighbourhood plan covering the area around the Minster was published. It generally received a positive response.

Hollyrood Drive
Front Street
A59 entrance to the City

By late May it had become clear that something was seriously amiss with street public service standards. Hedges and trees were obstructing paths. Weeds scared key entrances to the City. It would later become clear that the weed killing programme had simply not taken place on many roads. There would be some improvements towards the end of the year but several issues were never fully resolved.

Work started on demolishing Windsor House
York staged its first County Cricket match for over 100 years
…..and the Community Stadium pitch started to grow.

It became clear that the new York Community Stadium would not be completed by the final, final deadline on June. A later Autumn opening date was also to pass with key Rugby matches having to be rescheduled to the Bootham Crescent ground.

Council report.

There were also ongoing concerns about the viability of some of the facilities to be provided as part of the stadium deal. It seemed that the Council were now underwriting more of the risk on the commercial side of the development

Meanwhile, the cost of providing new football pitches for a Bishopthorpe based football team was revealed to be nearly £1.5 million

The cost included a high specification clubhouse.

Most of the funding was to come from taxpayers.

What annoyed some residents were claims by officials that the facility was a replacement for the playing fields being built on at Lowfields. It was pointed out that the new site (near the York College) was some 3 miles from Lowfields and lacked a direct public transport link.