York is first city in the UK to get electric bus makeover

Sight seeing bus on Lendal Bridge

One of York’s renowned City Sight Seeing buses will become the first double-decker bus in the country to get an electric makeover, thanks to a grant made by the Coalition government.

Reliance buses will also benefit from the same pot of funding, with the installation of new exhausts that will help reduce poor emissions in the city.

Details of the supplementary allocation were released 3 weeks ago.

A City Sight Seeing bus, operated by Transdev, will become the first double decker in the UK to be converted from diesel to pure electric with lithium ion batteries, similar to those used by mobile phones.

Converting from diesel to electric will have substantial benefits for air quality as the bus is used intensively in the city centre. The cost of the conversion will be £75k, but will save an estimated £15k a year in fuel costs.

The remaining DfT funding will be used to retrofit two diesel buses operated by Reliance, along the A19 route,with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) exhaust technology which reduces emissions of small particles.

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E petition started as Council stops green bin collection

This is the last day that the Council will be emptying green bins this winter.

Green bin 2

One resident has started an “on line” petition aimed at getting the service restored. Click here to access it

The petition reads

We the undersigned petition the council to collect and empty our Green Bins throughout the Year.

Autumn leaves are falling everywhere and gardens are still growing but we have nowhere to put our Green Waste unless we store it until spring or take it at our own expense to Hazel Court.
We have all paid for this service to the council who have short changed us by cutting winter collections

Acomb is coming alive in run up to Christmas

Acomb Front Street is getting into the Christmas spirit with twenty five Christmas tree brackets for small trees above shop fronts being put into place as part of a wider package of investment by City of York Council.

£30,000 is being invested to support businesses in Acomb and to help act as a catalyst for community-led economic development in the area.

Acomb Alive

The move was stimulated by the formation of the “Acomb Alive” group last year.

The York Council had been heavily criticised by traders and local residents when it abandoned its Acomb Office base in 2012 and subsequently slashed the funds available for Ward Committees to invest in the area.

The investment will see £24,000 investment on Front Street to install electricity points, repair and replace flower tubs, remove damaged and unneeded street furniture as well as new signage and seating.

The remaining £6,000 has been granted to kick-start an events programme to encourage footfall to the shopping area and to hep bring a flavour of the city centre to the important local shopping area.

£4 million landfill tax hits York as recycling performance crashes

Council performance stats click to access full report

Council performance stats click to access full report

A Council report has revealed that the amount of waste going to landfill in the City is significantly increasing.

As a result York taxpayers face a £3,918,960 bill – up over 17% on budget forecasts.

The fall in performance comes only weeks after a change in collection arrangements brought chaos to some streets in York.

The position is likely to deteriorate further over the winter as the Council is stopping collecting green waste altogether. The winter months accounted for around 18% of this type of waste last year.

The fear is that most of this will now go to landfill.

Historic recycling rates in York. Click to enlarge

Historic recycling rates in York. Click to enlarge

During the period when the Liberal Democrats led the council the amount of recycling and green waste sent for composting had substantially increased each year.

Now, against a background of delays on the longer term Allerton Park waste treatment project, prospects look increasingly bleak for both taxpayers and environmentalists in the City.

Council frozen into inactivity on Lendal Bridge failings

We are still receiving a large number of adverse comments from visitors who have been caught out by the ANPR cameras on Lendal Bridge

A selection is reproduced below.

Democracy2

None of the Cabinet Councillors responsible is prepared to respond publicly to the criticisms and the local media increasingly adopt a supine approach to Labour’s excesses.

The Press haven’t even published the footfall figures, which were released last week, and which showed a 12% drop in the number of visitors in the City since the traffic restrictions were introduced.

Disillusion with the local democratic system is resulting in residents shunning the Councils activities.

-The annual “democracy week” attracted low attendances.

– Few residents attend the new ward forums

– The much vaunted (and expensive) web casting of Cabinet meetings attracts a tiny audience

– While the so called “housing week” events attracted in the main only officials and Labour members.

The Councils procession from the Guildhall to its new offices attracted City wide derision.

So it does raise the question of what residents can do, in a democracy, if their views are totally ignored by an inflexible Council leadership?

In the end, the answer will be to ensure that it never happens again.

Reintroduction of the “so called” committee system where decisions are take (at meetings open to the public) by all party groups, looks increasingly attractive.

Cabinet/Executive members have no delegated authority to act under such a system.

We will see if this option finds its way into the party manifestos for the local elections in 2015.

Sadly other options for reinvigorating the democratic system in the City (annual elections and smaller wards) have so far been rejected by the Boundary Commission

In the meantime those who have suffered through the bad planning of new traffic restrictions, who are appalled at the profligate expenditure of the Council, who oppose the ridiculous plan to increase the City’s size by 25% over the next 15 years, who fear the impact that new de-icing schedules will have on safety or who reject the idea that 20 mph is the right speed limit for all urban roads, should continue to make their views known to local Labour Councillors.

There is evidence that’s some of them are now beginning to question the style and content of the Alexander leadership.

Only 18 months to the next Council election. For some businesses though they will come too late.

Recent feedback includes these comments
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Another Harewood Whin odour warning for Acomb- Residents alerted about landfill works

PEOPLE living in the vicinity of a landfill site near York are being alerted they may experience a temporary odour in the air as work begins to restore another section of the site

The warning from operator Yorwaste comes a year after similar odour problems were reported by resident living in the Wetherby Road area.

Harewood Whin

In a media release the company says, “Yorwaste is currently undertaking work to restore a large area of completed landfill in the central part of their Harewood Whin site. This involves sealing the exposed waste with clay to control leachate generation and prevent landfill gas emissions.

The work can create disturbance, hence why the company is keen to alert residents in advance.

As part of this process new pipes have to be installed to collect the gas that is produced by waste in the landfill and it is at this stage that people living nearby may notice a slight and occasional odour.

Yorwaste says it is working as quickly but safely as possible to carry out this work, which will take place at various periods in October, and that the installation of the gas pipes should be completed by the end of November.

Steve Grieve, Managing Director of Yorwaste, said:

“We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this work may cause to people living near Harewood Whin but it is important to stress that this work is essential and is necessary to avoid a repeat of last winter’s problems.

“As waste breaks down in a landfill it starts to produce a methane gas. This gas can be captured and converted into green electricity which is then exported directly to the national grid, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

“The planning and implementation of this work has been done in consultation with our regulator, the Environment Agency, and whilst there may be some short-term inconvenience, they are outweighed by the longer term environmental benefits.”

Residents survey cites poor highway maintenance as York’s biggest public service problem.

York residents survey results click to enlarge

York residents survey results click to enlarge

A survey completed by over 400 residents living in the west of York has revealed that highways and footpath maintenance are now the biggest cause for complaint.

73% thought that road and footpath maintenance had got worse in the City over the last 2 years.

The service was followed closely by ice clearance which 69% thought had got worse.

This is bad news for the Labour Council as the response come before the latest set of cuts to winter maintenance are implemented.

Parking provision was criticised by 65% with the large increases in parking charges introduced by the Labour Council likely to be the main influencing factor.

More than 50% of respondents also thought that litter, control of dogs, refuse collection and weed removal had got worse.

Only crime prevention fared relatively well, with 66% saying that the quality of the service was unchanged

The survey results will add pressure on the Council to support additional investment in street level public services at its meeting on Thursday.

Street level public service standards – plea to York Council next Thursday.

The York Council at a meeting next week will be asked to jettison its prestige expenditure plans and return to a more sensible economic policy.

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

A motion being put forward by the Liberal Democrats condemns deteriorating roads, footpaths and increasing litter as well as plans to reduce de icing services in winter.

It says that Labour’s decision to scrap the “York Pride” maintenance programmes means that many areas are now strewn with weeds and detritus.

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Recent rain highlighted the impact that Labours decision to end the routine cleaning of gullies (road drains) is already having.

Meanwhile a rather disingenuous motion from Labour Cllr Burton, seeks to justify the bill for York staging the start of just one Tour de France stage.

The cost to taxpayers is already in excess of £1.5 million and rising.

The Labour backed motion says that any income to the Council from the event should be allocate to improve basic service standards.

It fails however to say that the income from a few hot dog stands is unlikely to make much difference.

The cost of the repairs back log on the City’s roads and footpaths alone now stands at over £20 million.

The Liberal Democrat motion reads
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Government to fund flood prevention works on A19 near Fulford

The coalition government has allocated millions in funding towards improving one of York’s key arterial routes. It will pay for much needed flood prevention works, new signalisation and improved access at key junctions on the A19 near Fulford.

A19 closed near Fulford last winter

A19 closed near Fulford last winter

The £170 million government Pinch Point Funding was announced earlier this year and part of it is to be used to protect the A19 from any future closure, following an unusual series of flood incidents in 2012 which resulted in the main road closing on three separate occasions. In comparison to a total of five days over the previous four years.

York will receive approximately £2 million from the Department for Transport towards the cost of the £4.7m project which will help towards supporting local transport schemes that tackle congestion and support growth.

The remaining funding will be provided from the private sector and existing council transport budgets.

Key elements of the proposals are to introduce a new left turn free flow lane from A19 into the Designer Outlet Park&Ride; inbound bus priority lanes on the A19 between A64 and Germany Beck, and bus priorities at the Naburn Lane junction and an enhanced junction at the proposed Germany Beck development.

The scheme will complement and enhance the improvements planned to be provided as part of the Germany Beck development, which will create new access to the site and raise the height of the road to be above flood levels.

There will be consultation on the proposed scheme details and the aim is to start construction towards the end of 2014.

Derisory funding allocation to Acomb by Council

Front Street

Front Street

We understand that the York Council is being recommended to allocate only £30,000 to a much needed regeneration project in the Acomb Front Street area.

That is just 0.1% of the Council budget that is available for economic development projects in the City.

The Labour Council has been blamed for the stark decline in the area over the last 2 years. The decline started with the council closing its Acomb Office before reducing the number of litter bins in the area.

Ward Committees in Acomb and Westfield, which had over £80,000 a year to invest in local public services, lost their budgets.

Fly tipping in Front Street back lane

Fly tipping in Front Street back lane


Local Traders fought back with an “Acomb Alive” campaign and a successful festival was held in the summer.

But the whole area needs a lift with the removal of weeds, road repairs, repainting and replacement of street furniture all high priorities. Dumped rubbish needs to be systematically removed, fences repaired, graffiti removed and walls rebuilt.

Some broken bus timetable information boards have been out of service now since 2011. A lasting memorial to neglect.

The £30,000 can be compared to the single £500,000 project which is currently seeing Kings Square in the City Centre being repaved.

Well fancy that! Click to enlarge

Well fancy that! Click to enlarge