Liberal Democrats launch Zero Waste Bill to safeguard the environment

Liberal Democrats have announced plans to tackle industrial fly tipping and protect the environment for future generations.

As part of our plans to introduce Five Green Laws in the next Parliament, Liberal Democrats have unveiled proposals for a Zero Waste Bill.

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The Bill is intended to boost the number of organisations prosecuted for illegal dumping while also introducing a higher, more consistent level of fines for fly-tippers who damage Britain’s environment.

As well as causing severe damage to Britain’s environment and wildlife, illegal waste sites, fly-tipping and landfill tax evasion costs the UK taxpayer on average £500m a year in lost revenue.

Under the proposal, organisations caught fly-tipping on an industrial scale to deliberately evade tax could face up to £9m in fines.

Currently only a small number of prosecutions are successful, ranging between 171—197 a year. The value of fines imposed varies considerably between courts, but averages only £7,000. This is despite the large-scale dumping operations conducted by some companies.

The Liberal Democrats plan is to create a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to UK waste, one which combines a Stern Review style action plan that turns waste into an economic asset but comes down hard on industrial fly tippers through larger penalties and fines.

Local fly tipping like this on Grange Lane is being reported regularly  by  the LibDems

Local fly tipping like this on Grange Lane is being reported regularly by the LibDems

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Commercial fly-tipping and illegal dumping of waste not only harms British wildlife and the environment, but also means the taxpayer loses out.

“Our Zero Waste Bill not only ensures a fairer society by giving companies who use illegal dumping to shirk their tax responsibilities their comeuppance; but also creates a stronger economy, turning waste on its head to make it a beneficial resource for the country”

Liberal Democrat Environment Minister Dan Rogerson added:

“Environmentalism has been at the core of our party’s DNA long before it fell in and out of fashion with other parties.

“This is why we have such a strong environmental record in government, from planting a million trees and protecting our national forests to introducing a 5p charge on throwaway plastic bags.

“Our five green laws take this even further. We will make Britain’s waste pay – trebling fines for industrial scale fly-tipping, and establishing a ‘Stern Report’ to end the practice of needlessly sending waste to landfill.”

Big Community Energy Switch – York deadline extended

After an extremely successful auction which saw a tariff secured by iChoosr that could save residents on average £243, City of York Council is urging residents to sign up to the Big Community Energy Switch before 9 March.

People will join together with over 400 other residents from York in the switch, which could help them save on their gas and electricity bills.

A drop-in event will be held at City of York Council’s West Office on 2 March from 10am – 3pm. Residents can take their offer letter if they have any questions.

People can also sign up to the switch if they take a recent fuel bill.

The council and iChoosr held their first scheme between December 2013 and February 2014. A total of 751 York residents signed up, along with 36,000 people across the UK.

Supported by York’s Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK York – the Save Money by Switching Energy campaign launched in December 2013. The scheme enables York residents to register for the assisted scheme through these four easy steps that can result in them being offered potentially cheaper alternative tariffs to consider switching to.
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Woodthorpe school to help out with spring clean in March

Local residents, community groups and businesses will be involved in spring clean over the last weekend of March to carry out an annual city-wide spring clean of York.

During March, the council will focus on supporting hard-working residents committed to keeping their neighbourhood looking – and staying – tidy.

So far, community groups such as the Friends of Leeman Park have committed to spruce up a play ground, Lindsey Avenue Residents’ Association will be encouraging people to recycle even more and the Dunnington in Bloom team will be concentrating their efforts on tidying a layby on the A1079.

Smarter York officers will be working with local businesses to brush up their immediate area as it’s good for business and for the surrounding community.

Pupils at Woodthorpe Primary School are among the York schools being encouraged to spend an hour of the last afternoon of the spring term having a Spring Clean.

Students are also being approached to join in, as well as staff at City of York Council who are being encouraged to go out and help in their own neighbourhoods as part of the ongoing support the council gives them to volunteer to boost the quality of life in York.
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Council surveys residents about “sustainability”

Being a sustainable city means different things to different people, but what does sustainability actually mean?

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Over the coming months City of York Council and its partners will engage with residents, businesses and community groups to find out what it means to them.Some of the key things people often associate with being sustainable include low levels of waste and high levels of recycling, good air quality and protecting the environment. But there are also other areas to consider including fair trade and supporting the local economy and making York a vibrant city with lots for residents to do.

To find out how well sustainability is currently understood and recognised, the council is asking for views via a short survey, here: www.surveymonkey.com/s/SustainabilityIs or via social media using the hashtag #SustainabilityIs?  

Paper copies are also available in West Offices, or by calling 01904 551550.

To explore this further an event will take place on 3 March to look at how the city has responded to date.  It will contrast York’s approach with that of other cities, particularly those with strong reputations as leading on sustainability.

Bioregional, co-creators of the ‘One Planet Living’ framework will also be on-hand to explain how it helps make sense of sustainability, the practical benefits it has delivered elsewhere and the impetus it can give to future work.  

Anyone working to make the city more sustainable, including residents, community groups and businesses are all invited to attend this free event. For more information please contact the council on 01904 551550 or visit West Offices.

Sign up to the Big Community Energy Switch

City of York Council is reminding residents to sign up to the Big Community Energy Switch by 2 February.

People will be joining together with over 170 other residents from York and 12,000 people from around the UK in the switch, that could help them save on average £169 on their gas and electricity bills.


The council and iChoosr held their first scheme between December 2013 and February 2014. A total of 751 York residents signed up, along with 36,000 people across the UK. Average annual savings for those York residents who switched was £169!

Supported by York’s Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK York – the Save Money by Switching Energy campaign launched in December 2013. The scheme enables York residents to register for the assisted scheme through these four easy steps that can result in them being offered potentially cheaper alternative tariffs to consider switching to.

1) Anyone who pays a household energy bill can register for free. Registration is easy – you just need a recent fuel bill or annual statement.

2) Registration closes on 2 February 2015. The council’s switching partner iChoosr then gathers everyone’s registrations together and invites all the energy companies to offer their best prices. This is all done by iChoosr. You don’t need to do anything.

3) The cheapest tariffs win! Residents will receive an with details on the new tariff secured by the scheme from 16 February. It will tell you how much money you could potentially save if you accept.

4) Residents have until 16 March to decide to accept the offer or not. There is no obligation to accept and there are no fees or charges. You simply get a new offer that could potentially save you money on your energy bills. If you choose not to take up the offer, you can always register again in future schemes.

If residents are unable to sign up to this round of the Big Community Energy Switch they can join the next round, which runs from 24 March until 18 May.

To find out more or to register go to www.york.gov.uk/switchingenergy. 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.

Energy efficiency programme for private homes in York

A landmark programme for residents to implement energy efficiency measures in their homes has been agreed to bring over £20m of investment into the region and improve over 12,000 privately owned or rented homes.

The Better Homes programme brings together the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and nine Local Authorities in the Leeds City Region including City of York Council, with the private sector partners at KeepMoat and Willmott Dixon (KSW).

The new partnership will pool the expertise and resources from all partners to deliver a home energy offer to residents which could include new boilers, central heating systems, standard and hard to treat insulation measures and renewable energy systems.

In the first three years alone, the programme aims to deliver energy efficiency measures to over 12,000 homes including a minimum of 800 in York, and create jobs and apprenticeships for local people. As a result of these efficiency measures, the programme could bring £20m of investment into the Leeds City Region and increase the GVA growth.

To launch the scheme in York, KSW will offer 80 Green Deal communities fund vouchers, targeted at specific groups/neighbourhoods. The vouchers will help with the costs of installing measures and will be worth up to £750 per resident. In addition a private home will be retrofitted with up to £15k worth of funding energy efficiency measures and will become a demonstration show house.
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Communities urged to sign up to Big Energy Race!

City of York Council is urging residents and community groups to sign up to the Big Energy Race which could see them win £20,000 towards a community project of their choice.

The Big Energy Race sees groups and individuals promote energy saving in their local community, which can help to make a real difference to peoples energy bills.Alongside the grand prize of £20,000 towards a community project there are also individual, team and regional prizes to be won. This provides plenty of opportunities for everyone involved to have their moment to shine.

Odour problem from Harewood Whin prompts action call

Burning compost blamed

Yorwaste entrance

Problems with a fire in the composting plant at Harewood Whin has been blamed for a continuing odour problem in parts of Acomb.

Although there were no signs of a fire today residents have contacted the Environment  Agency to complain about the problem.

Cllr Andrew Waller has been called in and has promised to find out the cause of the fire and what is being done to prevent a repetition.

Unfortunately YorWaste have not provided any updates on the problem on their website

The Theatre Royal and York’s other historic buildings

The proposal to sell the building that houses the Theatre Royal to the York Conservation Trust has raised some eyebrows in the City.  The main issue seems to be the proposed £1 valuation.

York Theatre Royal was built in 1744 on, and among, the site of the medieval St. Leonard’s Hospital. Immediate repairs (roof replacement) are estimated to cost around £320k with significant further works needed in coming years

Separately £4.1m is being spent on a programme of refurbishment and improvement

 The York Citizens Theatre Trust has a 25 year lease on the property at an annual rent of £27,250 with a 2 year rent free period during the refurbishment, It achieves a significantly higher proportion of earned income (around 75%) than similar theatres elsewhere and requires below average local authority funding in both the amount and proportion of turnover (around 7-8%). The Council provides a subsidy of around £250,000 a year to the theatre but has said that this will gradually reduce over the years.

Uniquely for a City the size of York, the Theatre Royal faces commercial competition from both the Barbican and the Grand Opera House

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The Conservation Trust is a charity and was set up in 1976 as the successor to Morrell’s “Ings Property Company Ltd”. This company had been established by the Liberal supporting family in the 1940’s with the intention of securing York’s historic building heritage. It is run by Directors who are all related to the original family.

Together with the York Civic Trust, it can claim to be the principle reason why we are still able to enjoy a large number of, generally well conserved, old buildings. Another reason is, of course, that most are “Listed” meaning that they cannot be demolished and that any alterations are subject to restrictive conditions.

The York Council has also accepted over the years a responsibility to maintain buildings like the Mansion House and Guildhall. That sense of responsibility has been undermined recently, not least by the Labour group’s decision to spend £9.2 million converting the Guildhall buildings into a “media centre” (currently subject to a policy review “call in”).

The York Guilds – essentially craft based trades organisations – also take responsibility for maintaining three ancient halls in the City, with much of their income derived from private lettings and (high) membership fees.

Finding uses for buildings, which are expensive to maintain and heat, will always be difficult. Currently there are at least three historic buildings with a question mark about their future use.  St Anthony’s Hall (soon to be vacated by the Quilters Guild), St Williams College (where the Minster Trustees are seeking uses that could offset large repair bills) and the Guildhall.

The York Conservation Trust has already acquired two former Council owned buildings near to the Theatre (The Assembly Rooms and the De Grey Rooms).

While many York residents may feel, in an ideal world, such assets would remain in public ownership, the actions of the Council over the last 3 years is a reminder that public election does not automatically bestow either wisdom or financial acumen.

On the other hand, the negative side of large parts of the (former) public realm falling into the hands of a Charity – no matter how benign – is that public accountability all but disappears.

Residents of York will be dependant on the Charity Commission and the constraints of the planning system to ensure that the Trust continues to fulfil its founder’s altruistic aspirations.

 

Blackout raises concerns that VIP may get lost tonight

Santa-with-lantern

Andrew has been out and about reporting faulty street lights.

Amongst those found  not to be working, and causing problems for residents, are three at the Acomb Green/Askham Lane junction

  • Streetlight 13 The Green – bulb not working
  • Streetlight 14  The Green – no lamp attached
  • Streetlight 1 Askham Lane  – no lamp attached

Large numbers of elves are being deployed to ensure that there are no misrouting problems tonight!