Warden of the North

Initially we thought this was a joke but apparently not.

Warden of the North. Local defence force next?

The York Council is now seeking volunteer “Leaf Wardens”. Their job will be to sweep up fallen leaves from (Council owned) public places including highways.

Now we know that many residents do try to keep the area outside their homes clean and tidy. Many will pick up litter, remove weeds and even mow verges.

Some may sweep up fallen leaves while others may clear snow.

The motivation for most volunteers is to improve the appearance of their neighbourhood over and above what is possible using the resources available to the local authority.

But it is what the label suggests – a voluntary action prompted by community pride.

In our view, the Council is now trying too hard to institutionalise and exploit that goodwill

So we now have “snow wardens”, “flood wardens” and “litter pickers” all kitted out by the Council.

The collapse of the weed killing programme this summer, footpaths blocked by overgrown trees/ hedges and, most recently, a sharp decline in the reliability of the bin emptying service should have acted as a “wake up” call to the Councils leadership.

What residents first want to see – before they are asked to do a second job as well as their day job – is the Council delivering good quality public services at street level on a consistent basis.

No one expects leaves to be swept up immediately the first bad weather of autumn arrives. But they do expect to be told what the Council will do, when and to what standard.

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The council should publish revised “customer contracts” or “Service Level Agreements” and report back regularly on improvement plans.

They should then consult Parish Councils, Councillors and residents associations before they offer any patronising training on how to sweep up leaves.

Graffiti removed from street furniture in east York

Following action by Cllr Mark Walters, Virgin media have cleaned graffiti from many of their cabinets in east York. The above are in Tang Hall.
Unfortunately, the position in west York seems to have deteriorated with more graffiti appearing. This BT telephone kiosk in Beagle Ridge Drive is due to be removed shortly, but in the meantime it has become a target for the “artists” The Foxwood Residents Association has now formally complained about the amount of litter in the neighbourhood. They wat to see the return of “lengths-men” and dedicated estate workers, The Foxwood shops forecourt is a particular problem area.

With shorter days, the reliability of street lighting will once again become a priority. No doubt local Councillors will be undertaking a sweep of their wards checking for faults. Residents also may want to report issues. Generally faulty bulbs are replaced quickly if reported via the Councils “on line” site https://www.york.gov.uk/reportproblems (click)

York Council “on a roll” with clean up work

The traffic islands at the junction of Station Road, Poppleton with the A59 have been cleared of weeds and detritus by the Council. The long overdue improvement has given this key entry into the City a much needed boost.

There is still a lot of work to do removing weeds from the gutters while some of the trees still need cutting back from the paths.

….and thanks to the York Bid team who have completed the removal of weeds, cans and detritus from the Ouse Bridge parapet. Another busy location given a much needed face-lift.

Cost of recharging point project increases from £700,000 to £2.2m

The electric vehicle “hyper hub” vehicle rapid recharging points planned to be installed at Poppleton and Monks Cross have trebled.

Solar canopy

In March a report quoted the cost at £700,000. The scheme envisaged the use of a solar canopy with battery storage facilities. The scheme was to have been funded entirely from central government grants.

Existing Council owned charging points, although criticised for poor maintenance standards,  have usage rates of over 1500 sessions per month, and have also been a catalyst for the use of electric buses on the Park&Ride network. York is an air quality management area with regular exceedances of NO2 levels in urban highly populated areas due principally to transport emissions resulting in air pollution.

High power charging brings challenges for the UK local grids in providing short term peak power capacity and reducing the carbon intensity of fuels from a national grid perspective. The Hyper Hubs aims to resolve both of these issues by reducing the peak power demand on the grid and prioritising renewable energy supply through the supply of low carbon energy generated on site.

The plans envisage 8 recharging points at each site. The electric vehicle infrastructure element of the project is to purchase and install the DC ‘hyper’ charging points (faster than current ‘rapid’ charge speed points at 50kW) which will supply the energy to the vehicles. These will be installed in a Hub of eight car bays which can supply up to 150kW power output per car, with a typical charging session taking 10-20 minutes. By way of comparison, a typical home charging point takes around eight hours to charge an electric vehicle.

charging work

A typically electric vehicle will have between 30kWh and 100kWh of battery capacity. Most vehicles will be able to travel 4~5 miles per kWh. A typical charging session on a 150kW charger would give ~200 miles range in 20 minutes depending on the battery pack’s initial state of charge.

Earlier in the year the project was criticised for prioritising out of town locations for the chargers. It was pointed out that the terraced streets which are generally located towards the City centre did not have easy access to rapid chargers and that a more conventional approach to power supply might there have greater results. (The Council have abolished ResPark charging discounts for other than ULEVs).

That controversy may reappear now with the cost per recharging point having soared to £138,000 each. It means that the Council will not be able to fund alternatives either in the form of better cycling facilities (better road repairs) or many more rapid charging units at a cost of less than £30,000 per unit.

The cost of installing 50 on street chargers (of which a government subsidy would be available) would be in the region of £250,000.

York taxpayers are being asked to contribute around £400,000 to the costs of the hyper hubs.

It is unclear what fees will be payable by users of the chargers

The Council says that the reliability of its existing charging hub network is improving.

“In 2013 City of York Council led the way in encouraging low emission vehicle usage by installing a range of APT (brand) public charging infrastructure sites for electric vehicles around the City. However, being an early adopter has meant that much of the estate is now life expired, unreliable and some of the charge points have 3 pin sockets which no longer meet The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations 2017”.

Whilst the ambition to install EV was positive and the outcome was good at the time, this was not supported by a wider strategy associated with the installations in terms of the overall management, support and maintenance.

In response to this, the assets have now been moved in terms of responsibility and an audit of the current estate has been undertaken.

 At the time of the audit around 44% of the chargers were operational.

Full Council approved £25k to invest in the short-term repair and maintenance of the assets.

 The Transport Systems team is now in the process of commissioning the work to put in place the repairs to the assets and 84% of the charging units are now functional

West York still blooming in autumn sun

There is lots to admire before the seasons change in west York. Much voluntary effort has gone into making our community colourful this year

Acomb Wood offers a delightful opportunity for a stroll thanks to the hard work of the Friends group
Volunteers help to clear litter from the Foxwood Park. Lets make their job easier by doing our bit
Flower tubs around the Foxwood area are maintained by volunteers

The Foxwood Residents Association will be supervising the planting of more spring bulbs tomorrow. There will be an increased number planted in Dickson Park

Also in Dickson Park, the Residents Association will be discussing, at their meeting on Wednesday, the planting of additional trees. A suggested layout has been provided by the local TREEMENDOUS charity. The meeting, which commences at 7:00pm, is open to all residents who live in Foxwood

Tree planting plan for Dickson park

Blocked paths – report them now

Following an exchange of views on social media we have received several more complaints about obstructions on foot and cycle paths.

In the main this is caused by overgrown hedges but in some cases low hanging tree branches are to blame while the, still out of control, infestation of hazardous weeds like nettles and brambles remains a problem.

Most of the overgrowing vegetation is the York Councils responsibility to cut back.

We urge residents to Report any issues. (Just don’t expect to get any feedback from the Council!)

If no action is taken then escalate the issue to your local Councillor.

We think getting problems like these sorted out should be a top priority for the Council as such obstacles represent an increased hazard as nightfall creeps ever earlier.

Several obstructions on the York Cycle network

More on weed control in York

The Council has now replied to our complaint about inadequate weed control on public areas this summer.

They candidly accept now that the spraying has not been satisfactory.

They are now commencing a re-spray. The spray will include a colouring agent which will show which areas have received attention.

Weeds on the A59 have not been treated

This will be supplemented by Council staff who will work on areas not included on the contract. The areas near Poppleton on the A59 are a high priority.

Another problem has developed with obstructions to public cycle and footpaths.

Again the path on the A59 is one that is blocked

Path near Poppleton is still blocked
Brambles over growing the cycle path on Tadcaster Road may become a safety issue with darker nights coming.
Bushes are impeding access to the Hob Moor cycle track
Hedges blocking the cycle path at the rear of Hob Stones still haven’t been cut back
Someone has spent some time on this graffiti near the southern by pass
But less time on this!

Blitz on weeds starts in York

We are told that a new round of weed spraying has started.

The Council will also send an “in house” team out to deal with problem locations such as traffic islands.

The news comes after 3 months of complaints. Many parts of the city had become overgrown.

Earlier this week an official admitted that several key entrance roads into the City – including the A59 – had been omitted from the contract specification

The councils spaying contractor is understood to have taken on new staff in an attempt to improve quality standards.

The weeds should start to die back after a few days. Councillors are being asked to report any areas which might be missed. Residents should therefore highlight issues to their local representative.

In the mean time we have reported several new problem locations

Blocked gully in Queenswood Grove
Chesney Field snicket choked with cans and weeds. Vegetation needs cutting back
Weed growth and poor sweeping in St Pauls Square
Weeds overwhelming Baildon Close
Weeds in Otterwood Lane and nearby snicket
Tithe Close snicket needs a good clean
Several back lanes in the Milner Street/Severus Street area are obstructed by overgrown hedges