Greening of York

No, not a reference to the influence of the Green Party.

More the steady advance of weeds on amenity paving areas, back lanes, snickets and on footpaths. Weed growth is heavily influenced by weather conditions, of course, but the Council doesn’t help by being secretive about when they have scheduled weed treatments for this year. Treatment hasn’t always been effective in the past.

Weeds gaining a foothold in back lanes
Footpaths already reduced in width
Self seeded trees allowed to damaged boundary railings and adjacent public footpaths
Weeds and unswept gutters let down local streets
More weeds – not treated last year
Weeds are growing rapidly on some uncut verges

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.

York river bank needs a tidy up

With the City economy now so dependent on visitors the Council and its partners needs to up its game and give some public areas a face-lift.

Graffiti on Scarborough Bridge
Flood barrier work and graffiti next the Ouse. One of the first things rail travellers see as they enter the City
Missing fencing on Dam Judy Dench Walk – reported several weeks ago – still hasn’t been repaired
while the Lendal Bridge steps need a coat of paint.
Hopefully any investment in public service standards in the City centre won’t be at the expense of the suburbs. Here graffiti and detritus blight Kingsway North
Hopefully the Council will persuade more businesses to “adopt” roundabouts in the City.

No way to treat a nature reserve

The wooded area next to the Grange Lane park is littered with rubbish again. The area is home to a wide selection of wildlife. It should be treated with more respect.

Ironically the park itself – often the source of complaints about litter in the past – is reasonably tidy at present.

We are now coming up to the second anniversary of our request to the Council to repaint the goals posts on the Westfield Park.

The Council is seemingly keen to encourage healthy living. The least it could do is keep sports facilitates in good condition

Westfield park

York business ordered to pay nearly £20,000 for fly-tipping

An investigation by City of York Council has uncovered and prosecuted a serious case of fly-tipping in the city, as part of Operation Eyeball a multi-agency campaign to tackle illegal waste disposal.

Haizhou Zhou (aged 46 of Outgang Lane, Osbaldwick, York) appeared yesterday [7 May 2019] at York Magistrates, where he pleaded guilty to fly-tipping and a related waste disposal offence.

Mr Zhou and two unknown male accomplices were caught on CCTV arriving at Ocean Corals and Reptiles, Clifton Moor, York, on 26 May 2018.

The three men discarded waste from a hire van into a skip next to the business. The waste included black waste bags, a wooden pallet, strips of plastic, cardboard, and wooden boards.

City of York Council officers noted that some of the waste recovered from the site belonged to Pegasus Textiles, registered as Pegasus World Ltd, Outgang Lane, York, for which Mr Zhou is the company director.

The incident cost the owners of Ocean Corals and Reptiles £228 for an additional skip to get rid of the extra waste.

York Magistrates fined Pegasus Textiles Ltd £13,200 yesterday [7 May 2019], he was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £170 and costs of £1012.64 as well as repayment of the waste costs.

Mr Zhou was fined £3938, ordered to pay a surcharge of £170 and costs of £500, as well as £228 compensation to Ocean Corals and Reptiles.

The council is working with North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Crime team and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to lead on the development of the Operation Eyeball (cross-county work to reduce fly-tipping).

Together, this campaign aims to support communities to find alternative ways to recycle and reuse their waste, rather than resulting to fly-tipping.

To check if a carrier is licenced, visit: https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers or call the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.

Residents can take waste to our household waste recycling centres – see www.york.gov.uk/wasteandrecycling – or can arrange for the council to collect it via www.york.gov.uk/BulkyWaste. Up to ten items can be taken so why not join together with neighbours?

Time to get to grips with street public service issues in York

Poor IT systems and lack of effective action to deal with the root causes of problems

Residents will be hoping that the new Council is more successful than the last in dealing with endemic problems. High on their priority list should be a revamp of the “report it” on line system. For most issues, reported using the system, no update reports are provided.

In other cases issues are reported back to residents as “solved” when a cursory examination reveals that the problem is still outstanding

One recent case was a (bad) littering problem on the Tithe Close snicket. Reported on 29th April the IT system said it was “solved”. In reality the mound of litter has simply grown in size then.

Litter in Tithe Close 29th April
Litter still there a week later despite the report being “closed”

The same case highlights the lack of action on the root causes of problems. This, and other snickets in the area, are subject to littering on an almost daily basis. Surveillance followed by some well publicised prosecutions, would see the problem reduced (and failure costs avoided).

Another recurrent issue is fly tipping. The Council has rightly reduced the cost of bulky waste disposal collections. It has not been advertised very well.

So this Bank Holiday we are seeing numerous examples of dumping in public areas

Sofa dumped
Shopping trolleys
Mattress dumped on Little Green Lane garage area. Been there for “2 months” according to local residents
Rubbish on back lane
Dumping at old entrance otoLowfields school
Acomb car park – litter near recycling bins
Acomb Car Park – recycling bin full
Acomb car park dumping

Fly-posting funfair owner fined £2,230

A persistent fly-poster was ordered to pay fines and costs of £2,230 by York Magistrates on Tuesday 9 April 2019.

George Rowland Tucker (of Salsview Fairpark, Tudworth Road, Hatfield, Doncaster), owner of GR Tucker & Sons, a family-run funfair, pleaded guilty to 15 offences of fly posting in the City of York in October 2018.

His funfair was located at Stirling Road, Clifton Moor, York and was open from 16 – 23 October 2018. Posters advertising the event were tied to wooden boards and lamp posts and fences next to roads throughout the city in the week leading up to the event. No prior permission was sought from City of York Council to put up the posters and the business failed to take them down when warned by Council Enforcement Officers.

Council officers photographed and removed each poster and served a fixed penalty notice for each found. Mr Tucker attended an interview under caution when he was shown the evidence. He confirmed that 15 out of the 64 posters found were put up by his business. However, he failed to pay any of the fixed penalty notices and so was prosecuted.

At York Magistrates Court, Mr Tucker offered mitigation that the posters had been put up by a business rival to get him into trouble. The court issued him a fine of £1,200 with a court surcharge of £30 and costs of £1,000.

People who fix posters or advertisements without the landowners’ permission are given fixed penalty notices of £75 per sign to be paid within 14 days.

Spark container village – payments to Council revealed

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the York Council has revealed that it has received £13,333 in rent from the Spark container village on Piccadilly since they first arrived in September 2017.
Spark April 2018

This amounts to little more than £700 a month since the organisation took over the prime site.

No payments have been received by the Council from the “profit sharing” scheme agreed as part of the deal to allow shipping containers to be installed on the site. The council says it is still awaiting receipt of accounts for last year. The last accounts filed by Spark were for the year ending March 2018.

£19,856 is owed by Spark and its tenants for Business Rates. The Council says that it is taking recovery action.

The original Spark business pitch to the Council talked about a £71,000 profit each year. Part of this was to be used to repay the Council’s initial investment (which cost over £40,000) in new utility infrastructure,

The container village has been controversial from the start with long delays in meeting some planning conditions. An instruction to replace graffiti style street art with cladding on the Piccadilly frontage is still outstanding (click for background)

The contract allows for the Council to take back the site if, after 21 days, the tenants have failed to pay the rent or complied with their obligations under the Lease.

Many of the individual units have been empty over recent months.

Although warmer weather may give the containers a temporary boost in customer numbers, it is surely long overdue for the Council to test the market by advertising the site for permanent redevelopment.

York Council response to Freedom of Information request 29th April 2019

Call for action to address local issues

Problems with litter, potholes and vandalism

Hopefully the new Council, to be elected on Thursday will tackle outstanding public service issues with renewed enthusiasm.

Litter on snickets like Tithe Close is a recurring problem

Despite winter being over, there are still too many potholes on our roads. They are particularly dangerous for cyclists.

Vandalism has also reared its head again. The York Council needs to respond more quickly to damage reports.

Foxwood Lane snicket fencing damaged in March, still not secured

…and it is about time that areas which are littered on an almost weekly basis are tackled. The Council promised mobile CCTV surveillance of problem areas but there has been little evidence of improvement.

Councils, of all political persuasions, often say that their priorities are to improve basic public servce service standards. Hopefully there will be evidence of this after Thursday’s poll.

Council election manifestos compared

3. Environment

A rare outbreak of unanimity on the 4 parties environment policies. All promise to make York “carbon neutral” by 2030. The temptation to break ranks and go for a 2029 date must have been strong.

Most are keen on clean air zones but, like the carbon commitment, are very light on what this would actually mean for residents as they go about their daily lives. The key opportunity to declare the York Central “teardrop” site a ultra low emission zone seems to have passed all the parties by.

The LibDems seem to have ditched their commitment to the introduction of a “salvage and reuse” facility with only the Greens offering a “reuse shop”

All parties commit to fortnightly bin emptying. None are specific on how recycling rates might be increased. (Central government is mandating separate food waste collections)

Surface water drainage problems are only mentioned in passing although the Tories promise an “annual gully cleaning schedule”