Reuse and salvage – Questions about York approach

One of the most short sighted decisions of the York Council’s Labour administration between 2011 – 2015 was their decision to scrap plans for a “reuse and salvage” centre.

The facility could have been located at Harewood Whin and – as well as replacing the Beckfield Lane recycling facility which was closed in 2012 – would have provided 21st century salvage facilities for surplus items in the City.

Electrical equipment skip at Hazel Court.

Electrical equipment skip at Hazel Court.

More important, it would have introduced a more professional approach to the re-use of unwanted, but still serviceable, items.

That need is currently partly met by the internet based Freecycle and similar groups but large numbers of usable objects still find themselves in the land-fill stream.

Today, visitors to the Hazel Court amenity site witnesses a good example of the issue. One resident arrived with a set of perfectly serviceable wooden dining chairs. They would have  found  their way into the timber recycling skip had not another visitor offered them a new home. But that was down to luck not planning.

Recycling is more costly, and energy intensive, than simply reusing items…..even if some need repair or a coat of paint.

The Council still persists in asking residents to drop electrical goods into a steel container from a height of 3 metres jeopardising any opportunity to reuse the computers, printers, phones and other potentially valuable items which fill the skip each day.

The Council must take an independent look at the range of re-use services that are available in the city.

They then need to expand them and make sure that the options available are communicated regularly, and effectively, to local residents. 

Find out how you can help your local community – tomorrow Saturday

Fancy trying out a graffiti removal kit? Joining the flood warden team? or simply want to make a difference in the local community?

Hazel-Court-EventIf so, join us during a hands-on information session at Hazel Court, on Saturday 15 October between 10am-12 noon.

The drop-in session will have City of York Council teams and partner agencies on hand with advice and demonstrations on how residents can get involved in their local community.

Throughout the morning council teams will be demonstrating how to use graffiti removal kits and litter pickers, enabling residents to tackle some of these problems first hand. Staff will also be demonstrating the One Planet York app which allows residents to check their recycling and waste collection dates amongst a host of other features.

Residents will also be able to learn more about volunteering opportunities from the council, Environment Agency and York CVS on roles such as being a flood warden or joining over 200 other residents and becoming a snow warden.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for the Environment, said:“Volunteers are important, and many residents want to find out how they can take a more active role in their local community. This session will help people find out how the council will support them to do this. Many residents want to assist with taking pride in where they live, or else help with efforts during flood or snowy situations, so they can find out more by coming along.”

For more information about the event or volunteering opportunities in York, email: shapingneighbourhoods@york.gov.uk , call 01904 551832, or visit: www.york.gov.uk/volunteering

Stunner – £250,000 price tag for resurfacing Foxwood shops forecourts!

In response to petitions from local Councillors, York Council officials have reported on proposals to improve the Front Street and Foxwood shopping areas.
Weeds still growing on Foxwood Lane shops forecourt 1400 1st Jan 2016

Foxwood Lane shops

The petitions had pointed at poor maintenance standards, with weeds and litter a constant problem.

The main criticism though was about the surface of the roads and footpaths some of which are badly rutted and uneven.

A meeting on the 13th October will hear that highways officials have examined the roads and paths in both areas and have ordered that potholes be filled in on sections which are a part of the adopted public highway.

Officials say that they have limited powers to require the owners of the private shop forecourts to undertake safety work.

They report that they have “undertaken additional inspections following receipt of the petitions and have identified any areas where the condition of the footway is approaching or exceeding intervention levels, works have been programmed and delivered where these have been identified within the adopted highway. Letters requesting works from frontagers have been issued to address any similar areas within the unadopted areas”.

Pavement Front Street 1

Front Street

Acomb Front Street to let

Regeneration needed

The report goes on to say that any further uplift works must form part of a larger regeneration project. They recommend that this option be referred to the responsible Executive member with a further report.

However, they also say that

“further improvements will require significant works to reinvigorate the two areas, initial estimates could be in the region of £500,000 for Acomb Front Street and £125,000 for Foxwood.

Additional complications arise with both locations where an additional financial burden would fall to the frontagers who would be expected to contribute significant sums of a similar magnitude to facilitate improvements of the adopted and unadopted areas”.

While we have long believed that a major investment is needed to regenerate the large, complex  and neglected Front Street area, the suggestion that £1/4 million needs to be spent resurfacing the Foxwood shops forecourts is ridiculous.

What is needed is an overlay of flexible surfacing – similar perhaps to that used by the Council in Library Square – plus repainting or renewal of street furniture such as the cycle rack and bins.

We hope that Councillors won’t be hoodwinked by this very obvious example of “shroud waving”.

York street cleaning maps published “on line”

Following an intervention from Cllr Andrew Waller, the Council has now published maps showing street cleaning frequencies across York.

The maps are available “on line”. Click here to access

The Council says that “in order to target our resources in the most effective and efficient way possible, we have reviewed our street cleansing schedules based on the local knowledge of front line employees. This has enabled us to identify what is actually needed rather than undertake work just because its always been done that way.

As a result of this we have commenced a trial of new street cleansing schedules in each of the wards from the beginning of August 2016 for a period of 6 months.

Although some locations may have a reduced frequency of mechanical sweeping, this means that when we do undertake mechanical sweeping we will have the time to do a more thorough job leading to improved standards of cleanliness”.

City centre footstreets

The changes do not include the city centre foot streets as this is a distinct service undertaken seven days a week, all year round, between 5.00am and 8.00pm, this service has recently been reviewed and the Council is currently working with the York Business Improvement District team on how they can work together to bring about further improvement in the city centre.

Feedback

If residents have any feedback during the 6 month trial period please email the shaping neighbourhoods team at: shapingneighbourhoods@york.gov.uk where the responses will be monitored and collated.

The Council says, “as well as giving us valuable feedback, you may wish to consider how you might be able to help with the upkeep of your local environment, this may, for example be in the way of volunteering as a snow warden or as a litter picker. See volunteering opportunities (click) page for further details and other ways to volunteer”.

Following the end of the trial, further consultation will be held followed by a report to the Executive Member for the Environments Decision Session in Spring 2017

Information event

The Council is holding an event at Hazel Court for residents on Saturday 15 October 2016 from 10.00am to 12.00pm.

The sessions will be jointly delivered between a number of council teams and external agencies.

Westfield

The schedules for the Westfield area are reproduced below.  Generally, there is little change although there may be some concerns about sweeping  frequencies at smaller shopping areas like Foxwood Lane.

Some publicly maintainable footpath links ( Chesneys Field, Kingsway West, The Green) are shown on the maps as “private”. These will need to be cleaned regularly as will housing department communal and garage areas.

But overall the plans seem to us to be worth a trial especially given the decision of the previous Labour administration to substantially reduce the street cleansing budget

Manual street celaning

Manual street celaning

Mechanical street cleaning

Mechanical street cleaning

Charges likely for fishing at Chapman’s Pond

Charges are to be introduced for people wishing to fish at Chapman’s pond on Moor Lane.
Chapmans pond children fishing 1971

Chapman’s Pond 1971

The charges will be levied when the lease of the site, to the Friends of Chapman’s pond, is concluded later in the year.

The charges are expected to be £3 per day or £15 per year for adults, £1 a day or £5 a year for 13 – 16 years olds and free for under 12s. This level of charging is comparable with the nearby Railway Pond. Fishing has previously been free at the site.

Last year the pond had to be closed to anglers following an outbreak of disease in the fishing stock. At the suggestion of the Environment Agency, and with the support of the anglers, the Council closed the pond during this year’s spawning period resulting in a huge reduction in the number of fish deaths compared to last year

An anglers group is expected to appoint volunteer bailiffs to police fishing at the pond.

The move is also expected to address anti-social behaviour problems at the pond although it is not yet clear whether the boundary will be secured.

Chapman’s Pond is a 2.6 ha site off Moor Lane in Dringhouses. The pond itself covers roughly a third of the site with other habitats including woodland and meadow. It is currently managed by the Council with the assistance of the Friends of Chapman’s Pond.

The Friends are a long running group and have over the years carried out practical maintenance tasks and conservation enhancements. They have also assisted with fund raising, in particular for the circular path in 2011/12 and, for the last three years, in partnership with Love to Eat Café, a summer fair has taken place on site.

The area will be leased to the Friends for a nominal fee initially for three years.

The plan is being discussed at a Council meeting taking place on 23rd September.

The circus is in town … and don’t we know it!

fly posters Fun fair junction box Posters next to 104 Askham Lane telephone kiosk Cornlands Road 28th Aug 2016BT kiosk Kingsway WestProblems with fly posting (and graffiti) have been under control in York until quite recently.

A crackdown 6 years ago resulted in a general agreement that posters would be restricted and would be removed within 2 days of an event having taken place.

Space might be made available, for worthy causes, to use public noticeboards while the growing number of web sites – like this one and that of the Council – offered modern, free publicity alternative for charitable events.

Unfortunately more posters have been put up recently which breach those guidelines.

In some cases the publicised events have already taken place. Many posters disfigure telephone kiosks & telecoms cabinets while some have even been put on boards and fixed to lampposts.

The Council has previously said,

“We expect officers from the Community Safety Hub will take steps identify perpetrators and write to them requiring that posters are removed within two days. If a follow-up visit shows they are still there, the posters will be removed and the perpetrators will be sent a bill for council time, along with a letter explaining that any repeat offences will be prosecuted under the Town & Country Planning Act.

Legally permitted posters include those the council is authorised to display such as dog fouling warnings and planning notices.

Graffiti non offensiveFor organisations which have exemptions – such as local charities or community events – they will be reminded of the guidelines. These specify that exempt organisations are allowed posters not more than 0.6m2 (approximately A2 size) which are permitted 28 days prior to the event and 14 days after. If these guidelines aren’t followed, action will be taken, starting with a bill for their removal”.

Meanwhile there has also been an increase in graffiti in the Gale Lane area.

All cases that we have seen have been reported but we urge residents to use https://www.fixmystreet.com/ to highlight any continuing problems

 

It’s not just the York City centre that needs some weed killer!

We do increasingly wonder whether either Councillors or officials actually routinely check the quality of public services in some parts of the City?

Take the cycle/footpath which links Water Lane to Hazelnut Grove and Rawcliffe beyond.

It is obstructed with nettles, brambles and weeds. It has clearly not been swept for months?

We hope that even if the York Council ignores issues like these, residents will report them using the Fix My Street web site (as we have done today). Regular maintenance can make a big difference to the local environment

Detritus on Water Lane cycle opath

Detritus on Water Lane cycle path

Nettles impede Water Lane cycle path

Nettles impede Water Lane cycle path

 

Annual Council bridge weed growing contest – latest results

Weeds have been growing on the parapets of Ouse Bridge in York for over four years now.

Suggestions that the timely treatment with weed killer in the Spring might made the key route into the City a little smarter, have been ignored by the York Council.  We fear that the weeds are gradually undermining the strength of the bridge joints.

This is how the bridge has looked over recent years.

Setember 2016

September 2016

Ouse Bridge 2015

Ouse Bridge 2015

Ouse Bridge 2014

Ouse Bridge 2014

No historical evidence of horticulture on Ouse Bridge

No historical evidence of horticulture on Ouse Bridge

York Council report details air quality improvements for sixth consecutive year

The latest statistics on air quality from City of York Council, gathered by the UK’s most extensive provincial monitoring network, shows improvement across the city, although there are areas still above national targets.car-emissions

Areas with poor air quality include:

  • Gillygate,
  • Holgate,
  • Lawrence Street and
  • George Hudson Street/Rougier Street

The 2015/16 report will be presented to the Executive Member for the Environment at his Decision Session on 5 September.

York has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK outside London monitoring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other pollutants since 1999, and with NO2-specific monitoring at 340 locations*.Throughout 2015, NO2 concentrations have decreased at most of the monitoring stations in line with a steady downward trend.

In the Air Quality Management  Areas (AQMAs) in the city centre, along Salisbury Terrace and in Fulford, NO2 and particulate matter levels are now fractionally lower than nationally-permitted levels which could remove certain areas of concern.

These lower levels have been achieved through a stream of initiatives driven by the council’s low emission strategies. The most recent Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3), adopted in December 2015, sets out how York intends to continue to deliver its ambitious and pioneering strategy and to work towards becoming an internationally recognised ultra-low emission city.

The measures undertaken in 2015 to improve air quality include:
(more…)

Blocked gulleys blamed for recent flooding in east York

click to access

We warned about false economies 4 years ago. click to access

A report into flash flooding in York has blamed it partly on lack of gulley cleaning.

This will come as little surprise to readers of these pages.

We said in 2012, when the then Labour controlled Council decided to end routine gully cleaning, that it was a false economy.

So it has proved to be.

Credit the present Council who have acted to increase the cleaning regime but not quickly enough to prevent flooding in some areas in June.

The Council report reveals that as many as 50% of drains that have been inspected have been found to be blocked. A number of Yorkshire Water maintained drainage and sewer pipes are also blocked.  

£125k in capital funding, for “drainage hotspots”, has been made available by the Council.