Arriva Yorkshire first to secure five star Eco rating

Arriva Yorkshire has become the first bus operator in England to secure a five star Eco Stars rating after signing up to City of York Council’s York Eco Stars fleet recognition scheme.


Arriva bus

Arriva has signed up 15 of their vehicles that operate in the York area to the scheme. This means that 45 operators are now part of the scheme with nearly 3000 vehicles signed up and individually assessed.

The ECO Stars (Efficient and Cleaner Operations) Fleet Recognition Scheme helps York’s fleet operators gain recognition for their commitment to improving efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and reducing emissions – all helping to improve local air quality.

The scheme awards each member a star rating based on an assessment of how ‘clean’ their vehicle fleet is and how they demonstrate good practice in key areas of:

  • · Fuel management
  • · Developing driver skills
  • · Vehicle specification and maintenance
  • · Use of IT support systems
  • · Fleet performance monitoring


Key to the ECO Stars scheme is the bespoke ‘road map’, an action plan developed for each new member to help them take steps to improve their star rating. The ‘road map’ will highlight any issues and advise members on how to combat them, such as alternative fuel or technology that is available.

York first in Yorkshire to get rapid car charging points

York is the first city in Yorkshire to  run rapid car charging points. The rapid charging points can fill a car from flat to 80 per cent charged in just 20 minutes using high power 50kW chargers.

Charging points

Charging points

The rapid chargers will work by using either a swipe card or by downloading a free app, both of which are available from  ‘Charge Your Car’. The charging points are located at the Sports Village and Poppleton Bar (outside electric bus operating hours). They will also support the use of electric buses and taxis in the city.

87% say reopen Woodlands play area

Rowntrees promise early action

Rowntrees play area

87% of residents, responding to the survey that we took in the area a few weeks ago, said that they would like to see the Woodlands play area off Bellhouse Way reopened at least during day light hours at weekends.

10% were undecided on the issue with only 3% opposing the proposal

The equipment has been unavailable for several months now because of health and safety fears.

However many residents have pointed out that young children trying to climb the 2 metre high railings, which surround the play area, are probably at greater risk

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust has now responded to the local Residents Association promising that – following some minor works – the area will be reopened within a couple of weeks.

Elsewhere in the Woodlands estate, survey respondents were critical of the mowing arrangements for verges. They had been left uncut for so long that, after cutting, the area resembled a hayfield.

A site meeting to discuss the problem has taken place.

The Trust also plan to do some maintenance work on their shrub beds.

Weeds florish as hedges block footpaths

The weather is only partly responsible for problems with weed growth, hedges blocking footpaths and excessive verge cuttings

Grass cut by Council contractors but hedge left

Grass cut by Council contractors but hedge left

The Council was very late in awarding its maintenance contractor for elderly and disabled tenants this year and the contractors have found it impossible to catch up.

Drains blocked by weds and detritus

Drains blocked by weeds and detritus

The Councils Highways Inspectors seem to have been less effective this year in chasing up residents who allow their hedges or trees to block public footpaths.

Weeds growing everywhere in Acomb

Weeds growing everywhere in Acomb

But perhaps the biggest eyesore is weed growth. In parts of Acomb nettles and thistles are now over a foot high and are clearly damaging footpaths and roads.

Overgorn hedges blocking street signs

Overgrown hedges blocking street signs

We understand that a contract has just been awarded by the Council for the application of weed killer but it is likely to be at least a couple of weeks before all areas are treated (and longer again before the weeds die away)

Overgrown hedges blocking footpaths

Overgrown hedges blocking footpaths

Gulley cleaning – extent of cuts revealed.

Gulley cleaning

Labour run York Council has confirmed that it has reduced by nearly half the number of times that drainage gulleys are cleaned in the City.

In 2010/11, the last year of Liberal Democrat control of the council, there were 38,000 gulley cleans.

In 2013/14, after cuts by Labour in 2012, this was reduced to 20,664.

The reduction has been blamed for increasing problems with so-called ponding and minor flooding on some local streets.

Labour has cut the budget for gulley cleaning by £100,000 or 40% since coming to power, and reduced frontline staff.

Gulley cleaning halved by York Council

Grange Lane - layby close to School Entrance gulley almost blocked with leavesThe Council has confirmed that it has reduced by nearly half the number of times that drainage gulleys are cleaned in the City.

There were approximately 20664 cleans last year compared to 38000 when the LibDems were in control of the Council.

The cuts are blamed by residents for increasing problems with ponding and flooding in some local streets.

Dramatic fall in numbers fined for littering in York

Litter Esplanade car park river bank near Scarborough Bridge

Despite growing concerns about the amount of litter on our streets, the York Council has scaled back by nearly 95% the number of penalty notices issued for littering.

In 2013/14 only 16 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued compared to 216 in the previous year.

The number of people fined more than £100 has also dropped from the 2012/13 high when 18 prosecutions resulted in fines totally £1700.

£280 in victim surcharges were also received together with £4100 in court costs.

The Council has been criticised for the double environmental “whammy” of reducing the number of litter bins in the City while all but abandoning enforcement of anti littering legislation.


Call for statement on Barbican development.

Barbican development site June 2014

Barbican development site June 2014

The next Council meeting is likely to debate why a start on building work, on the derelict site next to the Barbican, has been delayed.

Planning permission for a 165 bedroomed hotel was granted in January 2012 with the aim being to provide facilities which would complement the use of the adjacent Barbican auditorium as a conference centre.

Property firm Broadhall was granted permission to build a Hilton Garden Inn on the land. The development was expected to bring at least 200 additional jobs to the City. 

Plans to erect nearly 200 flats on another part of the vacant site were submitted last year

A recent major conference held at the Barbican centre was criticised for lack of “break out” space.

Now the site – which used to accommodate a swimming pool – has been derelict for 2 years with gaps in the hoardings affecting the view from the City Walls and blighting one of he key routes around the City.


Walmgate Bar June 2014

Walmgate Bar June 2014

The Council has also been criticised for not starting a permanent repair on nearby Walmgate Bar. 

The Bar was shored up following a collision four years ago.

Two years ago the media reported that a start on refurbishment work was imminent.

With the City having a “showcase” opportunity provided by the Tour de France event next month, many had expected the Council to act on unsightly buildings and sites.



Lib Dems welcome Monk Stray U-Turn

Monk Stray

Monk Stray



Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Ayre has welcomed the news that Labour run York Council has withdrawn its attempts to install a permanent 8 metre gate onto Monk Stray from Stockton Lane.


The surprise annocument came this afternoon just hours before the council’s Planning Committee was due to debate the application. It was believed that the gate was being put in to allow large vehicles to access the site during next month’s Tour De France, when Monk Stray will be turned into a ‘Spectator Hub’.


However, over 70 local residents had objected to the application citing concerns that the gate would change the character of the historic public space, lead to the loss of grass land, increase traffic problems on Stockton Lane and would lead to regular large scale events on the Stray. Concerns were also raised by Cllr Ayre that removing historic hedgerow would break regulations.  


Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Heworth Without, commented:


“I am pleased that officers have listened to local concerns and taken the sensible decision to withdraw this planning application. With significant local opposition and many unanswered questions it was the logical thing to do.


“However, this is another embarrassing episode for the Labour Cabinet Member and her plans for Monk Stray. It has been one blunder after another. First Labour’s attempts to get a licence to hold events every year on the Stray was defeated, then the Caravan Club pulled out of hosting camping on the site for the Tour De France, and now the plans to install a gate before the Tour have been withdrawn.


“The mistake that Labour has made at every step is to propose half-baked plans before consulting with local residents. Monk Stray is a much valued open space that belongs to the people of York. Labour seem to have completely forgotten this.”




Full details of the withdrawn application can be found here:



York bridge maintenance shame

Ouse Bridge York June 2014

Ouse Bridge York June 2014

The Labour Leadership of the York Council has come under attack from visitors and residents alike for neglecting the appearance of the City.

In the City centre, tourists have pointed to Ouse Bridge where weeds are now overgrowing the parapet.

The bridge stonework has deteriorated while failure to control algae and moss growth could lead to major repair costs in a few months time.

No historical evidence of horticulture on Ouse Bridge

No historical evidence of horticulture on Ouse Bridge

The bridge is one of the most used by pedestrians in the City with many visitors photographing the river and banks from it.

Nor is the situation better in the sub-urban areas with some side streets in Acomb covered in foot high weeds.

The Council revealed recently in a response to a Freedom of Information enquiry that it gives a contractor £70,000 a year to control weed growth on local highways and footpaths

NB. The Council recently spent £490,000 repaving Kings Square


Weeds in Beaconsfield Street in Acomb June 2014

Weeds in Beaconsfield Street in Acomb June 2014