£89,000 spent on Christmas lights but no Christmas tree collection in York this year

Anyone buying a Christmas tree this year faces a trip to the recycling centre in January.

treeturnercopy1

Alternatively the Council say you should “replant the tree in your garden”.

In previous years, Christmas trees have been collected from peoples homes when green bins were emptied. The Labour Council has, of course, scrapped the green bin collections, so we guess that some trees will end up dumped in hedgerows around the City.

Any trees which are returned to recycling centres will be turned into compost.

The Council has, however, found £89,000 during the last 2 years to spend on Christmas decorations in the City centre.

The decorations can be seen in Parliament Street, Davygate, Coney Street, St Helen’s Square, Stonegate and Micklegate.

Lamp post lighting is at Station Rise, Bridge Street, Lendal Bridge and Museum Street.

Mini Christmas trees are also installed in some of these streets as well as the Shambles and Goodramgate.

Traders in sub-urban locations have, however, lost out again.

Unlike previous years, the Council is not offering “free parking” on any day or evening in the run up to Christmas.

The Park & Ride service is operating without charge on Boxing Day from 3 sites.

Most of the Park and Ride buses operating yesterday evening – during the extended shopping period in the City Centre – were running empty.

1 abandoned dog per month is destroyed in York

A dog is for life not just Christmas

christmas_dog

Several families will be giving or receiving dogs this Christmas.

New figures published by the York Council – together with the alarming dog attack in Leeds – should provide food for thought.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Council has revealed that over the last 12 months it has collected on average 1 dog per day Monday to Friday (there is no weekend service).

Over 50 % of dogs are returned to the owners.

In the period January to September 2013 on average 1 dog a month was destroyed 2 because of very old age / ill health meaning that it could not be re-homed.

7 were of a breed (Staffy / Staffy cross) that no carer was prepared to take.

Kenneling stray dogs costs about £30,000 a year in York

Those dogs who are re-homed go to a mix of national charities or specialist breed rescue centres for further re-homing or long term care, or to individuals / families for permanent adoption.

Many charities are looking for good homes for dogs and cats that they receive during the festive period.

Click below for links.

Save money by switching energy supplier – York “bulk buy” scheme

York residents are being offered a FREE service which could lead to big savings on their gas and electricity bills.

electricity-meter

City of York Council has partnered with energy switching expert’s iChoosr to make it easy and simple for residents to consider switching their energy tariffs.

Supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York’s Citizens Advice Bureaux and Age UK York – the Save Money by Switching Energy campaign launches on 10 December and will enable York residents to register to assisted scheme with just four easy steps and help reduce their energy bills by switching their providers.

Step 1) Anyone who pays a household energy bill and who is interested in saving money by switching energy suppliers can register for FREE from the 10 December. Registration is easy but they will need a copy of their recent energy bill to complete the process.

Step 2) Registration closes on the 17 February 2014 and then the council’s switching partner iChoosr will gather everyone who has registered together and invite energy companies to offer their best prices for energy to everyone in the scheme.

Step3) Residents will receive tailored details on the new tariff offer secured by the scheme from 28 February 2014. They will also see exactly how much money they could potentially save by switching if they accept the offer.

Step 4) At this stage residents can choose to accept the offer or not. There is no obligation to accept and there are no fees or charges if they don’t switch. They simply get a new offer that could potentially save them money on their energy bills.

Similar switching schemes run by other councils have seen yearly savings of between £60 – £200 per household. The council also piloted a similar scheme earlier in the year and this helped over 300 people consider switching. On average those that did switch were set to save £140 from the scheme.

The council’s switching partner iChoosr will gather registered users together and invite energy companies to offer their best prices for energy to everyone in the scheme. This is all done independently by iChoosr.

Those who sign up can receive a personalised offer with details on the new tariff secured by the scheme and will see exactly how much money they could potentially save by switching if you accept the offer

To find out more or to register click here . If residents do not have access online please visit City of York Council’s customer service centre at West Offices or call us on 01904 551550.

Spending 40p – York Council flushed with optimism

The York Council is handing over the running of its public conveniences to a private contractor.

Toilet sign

A standard charge of 40p will be made to users. The contractor will be able to increase the charge by 10p per annum.

The news is not particularly surprising although the scale of the charge is.

Visitors already tortured by traffic restriction fines now face another form of discomfort. The vendetta follows on from the high profile persecution of those “caught short”.

The Council has now published a list of 9 further offenders all of who faced fines of over £100. One urinated outside the Magistrate Court building conveniently saving on transport costs.

The Council hopes to save £75,000 a year from the charge. In return it promises a £663,000 refurbishment programme including £33,000 to be spent on the Front Street Acomb toilets.

All toilets will have unisex cubicles and have baby change facilities. Accessibility will be greatly improved with all facilities having alarm cords for disabled users connected to a 24-hour helpline and there will be 24-hour access to all toilets. This will be controlled by gates operated by payment of a 40p fee – what is already being charged at Silver Street – while disabled users are can continue to use RADAR keys for no charge.

Nine public conveniences will be provide under the new arrangements. The nine are located at:

  •  Acomb, Front Street
  •  Haxby, Main Street
  •  Coppergate
  •  Exhibition Square
  •  Nunnery Lane CP
  •  Silver Street
  •  St George’s Field CP
  •  Tanner Row
  •  Union Terrace

Other public conveniences will close

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York marathon faces sprint rival

run to loo

A new York Sprint race is to be held next summer for the first time. The event will aim to find the fastest visitor to the City.

Entrants will be asked to drink 3 pints of lager and will then be given a map of the Councils new network of public conveniences. Contestants will then race to the nearest site.

In line with the publicity for the Lendal bridge closure, recommended routes to the loos will be marked out making full use of the northern by pass.

On arrival 50% of the conveniences will be closed for cleaning.

CCTV cameras will be strapped to the back of each contestant to ensure that they do not cheat.

The entry fee for the contest will be 40p Multiple entries are allowed but will be charged separately.

Entry forms will be available on the Council web site shortly.

NB. The event has no connection with the “brass monkeys” race although the consequences could be similar.


Council bids to prevent repetition of Christmas bin collection chaos

The York Council is distributing a leaflet to each household explaining how they plan to schedule waste collections over the Christmas period.

Bins in Foxwood 2012

Bins in Foxwood 2012

Last year the service deteriorated into chaos during the same period.

This year some recycling collections are being cancelled. There will be no collections on New Years Day but there will be a “catch up” on the following Saturday.

The Council have issued the following advice.

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A bridge too near?

The promised report on Labour plans for a new £10 million bridge near Wilton Rise has now been published.

It turns out that £1.5 million of this will be spent on consultant’s fees.

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

The report claims that the costs of the bridge would be repaid “from the additional income in Business Rates and Council Tax generated by the new developments” (on the York central site).

It then goes on to claim that 1083 new homes will be provided. That is a surprise because the draft Local Plan published by Labour in April assumed only 438 homes would be constructed on this site.

However, the housing numbers included in the Labour draft Local Plan have already been undermined with actual planning applications submitted, and approved, over the last 6 months being in every case higher than the Plan estimate
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Therefore a much higher housing figure is a legitimate target for the York central site.

The present coalition government policy does encourage development and allows local authorities to retain and invest, for 6 years, additional Council Tax monies generated by new homes (New Homes Bonus).

Business Rates have also been “localised”. So an increase in income from additional commercial buildings would increase the amount that the Council receives from Business Rates. However government grants, which seek to equalise Council income between “prosperous” and less well off areas, could be reduced.

No business case of any sort has been provided for the meeting next week.

In addition to the homes, the “plan” talks about “building 93,000 sq m of office space with ancillary bar, restaurant, retail and leisure uses” in 2015.

A further 35,000 sq m would be built in 2019 in the form on a commercial area “in front of the station” and would include a new hotel although most would be more offices.

Of course, any incremental development in the City provides similar increases in Council income plus more jobs and homes.

Residents might have expected any income to be earmarked to pay for repairs to the public services in the City which have deteriorated so badly over the last 3 years.

Public consultation results - York central access options

Public consultation results – York central access options

Incredibly, the Council is being asked to earmark the £10 million without a development “Masterplan” being in place.

As a result no planning permission exists for the development.

The absence of a business plan is the major problem at present. It remains unclear how the site clean up will be funded (it is heavily polluted) nor is there any guarantee that other transport infrastructure needs can be financed.

From the information, that has been made available, it does seem that the Councils investment will not be underwritten in any way.

It is therefore a very high risk venture.

There is no proposal to form a joint development company which would allow Council Taxpayers to share in the success of any development (to offset the substantial risk)

The legal restrictions – which apply across Europe – on subsidising private companies are not explored in the paper.

Like the sale of the Haymarket car park on Hungate – for around 50% of its current open market value – the Council is being both naïve and reckless with taxpayers money. The promised offices and hotel on Hungate have yet to move forward and so have provided no economic stimulus for the City.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” could well be a similar embarrassment.

With the national economy improving, and some local developers reflecting the more buoyant approach in the City, less risky ways to kick start important developments like York Central should be considered.

Preparing For Cold Weather

City of York Council says that it is is supporting Public Health England’s Cold Weather Plan which looks at ways of reducing unnecessary deaths and illness this winter.

click to access

click to access

That’s a bit rich coming from a Council that has just decided to scrap 2/3 of the city’s self help salt bins and take around 30 miles of road off the gritting schedules!

Alternative view

They say that there are between 2000 and 2500 excess winter deaths each year in Yorkshire and Humber, many of which are preventable.

The Cold Weather Plan aims to prevent avoidable harm to people’s health by highlighting the negative health effects cold weather can have whilst enabling people to prepare and respond appropriately.

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York electric vehicle charging point network revealed

Tourists, businesses and residents in York can now benefit from the region’s first network of pay-as-you-go electric vehicle charging points.

Electric vehicle chargingIn addition to the 12 charging points already located across York, a network consisting of six fast charging points has now been installed at five locations across city centre car parks (Union Terrace and Nunnery Lane) and Park & Ride sites (Monks Cross, Grimston Bar and Designer Outlet) to allow drivers to re-charge their cars on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The network is publicly accessible with a simple payment system so that users can pay by phone or text in a similar way drivers currently pay for parking in council owned car parks.

Each charging point allows two electric vehicles to top up their batteries at the same time with up to 22kW power output from a choice of type two or three pin charging sockets.
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