Residents urged to report footpath obstructions

“Adopt an island” idea

Three weeks after local residents sprayed weed killer onto an overgrown traffic island on Northfield Lane die back has been limited. Further investigation revealed that around 4 inches of silt had accumulated around the island. Moss is a major problem on this and other similar islands

The area in question is important because it is immediately adjacent to the Councils Poppleton Park and Ride site. It is one of the first (and last) neighbourhoods that tourists are likely to see. Neglect is not a good selling point for a City with an economy dependent on visitor income

The nearby A59 is worse with weeds around 1 metre high.

While we don’t advocate residents taking matters into their own hands unless it is safe to do so, there are some roads where relatively little local effort could produce a startling improvement.

In every problem location we do ask residents and visitors to report obstructions – including excessive weed growth, overhanging hedges and trees – to the York Council.

This can be done via their “on line” web site which is available 24/7. https://www.york.gov.uk/reportproblems

We understand that a Councillor plans to raise the issue of failures in this years weed control contract at an executive meeting which is taking place on Thursday. Despite there being 300 pages of reports to the meeting, they fail to review the Councils performance on key street level public services. The Councillors responsible for street public services are likely to come under increasing pressure to issue a public statement, and initiate a recovery plan, aimed at restoring acceptable standards.

York climate change action plan update

City of York Council’s full council declared a climate emergency in March 2019, and agreed to set a target to become net carbon neutral by 2030.

A report is now being taken to the council’s Executive to provide an update on the next steps to progress the climate change action plan.

Following the climate emergency declaration, a new cross-party climate change policy and scrutiny committee was created to help develop the climate change action plan. Its first meeting will take place in September (and every other month after that).

The council is in the process of recruiting officers to two new posts to address sustainability and climate change to support on this work.

A report detailing the next steps will be taken to a public Executive meeting on Thursday 29 August.

York has a strong history of taking the lead on reducing carbon useage, including:

  • £2m programme of LED street lighting;
  • Solar PV installed on 541 council houses;
  • Air source heat pumps installed in 57 council houses;
  • A programme of cavity wall and loft insulation across the council’s housing stock;
  • Work with private tenants and homeowners to draw on funding from Government and regional programmes for improved energy efficiency and delivered through Better Homes Yorkshire;
  • Plans to use an innovative water-source heat pump for heating the redeveloped Guildhall complex;
  • Council support for the Treemendous initiative to plant 50,000 trees in York;
  • Investment in improvements to cycling infrastructure including the recent opening of the Scarborough Bridge cycle route and promotion of cycling – including achieving Cycling City status;
  • The i-Travel programme which includes active promotion of walking, cycling and sustainable travel options to groups and individuals.

“Sliding bollards” plan for York City centre

Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.

Phase 1 of the vehicle exclusion zone

The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)

The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people

More disabled parking is planned for Piccadilly

It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism

Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.

If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).

“Sliding” bollards are planned for the entrances to several streets.

The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.

The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.

In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:

•             continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services

•             creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)

•             extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours

•             supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride

*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.

Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.

City centre future

The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exercise on the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.

Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.

If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.

This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.

The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.

The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street

Weather brings bumper free harvest of berries

Still problems with hedges and trees blocking cycle and footpaths

The weather has had one positive influence. Brambles have flourished and their is an abundant free harvest available at places like little Hob Moor.
Unfortunately the adjacent cycle track on little Hob Moor can now be added to the list of obstructed paths. We’ve suggested to the Council that they need to organise a “task force” to go round removing overgrown branches and weeds from paths. They’ll also need to monitor highway trees as several are now banging on the sides and roofs of double deck buses as they pass.
A task group might also usefully clean off signage which is now unreadable. This sign is intended to help disabled users to access Hob Moor.

This sign is on Bellhouse Way
One piece of good news though is that the bramble bush which was blocking the little Green Lane footpath near the school entrance has been cut back.

“Mares tail” arrives in west York

Thanks to Osbaldwick Councillor Mark Waters – a professional horticulturalist – we have identified one of the weeds that is damaging road and footpath surfaces on the west of the City

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), often called mare’s tail, is an invasive, deep-rooted perennial weed that will spread quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage, crowding out less vigorous plants in beds and borders.

The RHS says that horsetail “is persistent, and several applications of a strong weed killer  – possibly over a number of years – may be necessary to completely eradicate the problem”

Horsetail has appeared in several areas in west York. These include the Council garage areas on Kingsway West and on little Green Lane.  It is already doing considerable damage to the  recently bitmaced forecourt access road at Green Lane.

We will now be formally submitting an official complaint about lack of action on weed growth in several areas. For example, weeds reported in early May on the Beaconsfield Street back lane have still not been cut back. It is a similar picture at many traffic islands

Fly tipping incident on Council owned land

Rubbish has been dumped on a Council garage area on Little Green Lane in Acomb

Some time ago we reported full BIFFA bins that were being stored on the Little Green Lane garage area. They were eventually removed.

Unfortunately another full bin has reappeared.

It has been joined by a large amount of fly tipping. Some of the rubbish is clearly domestic.

We have asked local Councillors to look into the problem.

Some residents believe that the waste has originated with the York Council itself or one of its contractors. An explanation is needed.

Arson attack on wheelie bin in Acomb

Lane between Gladstone Street and Beaconsfield Street is inaccessible for vehicles

A wheeled bin has been set on fire on a lane at the top of Green Lane, Acomb. The precise cause of the fire is unknown but some refuse has been deposited on the highway.

Steady rain has prevented the spread of any fire today

We have asked the York Council to arrange for an urgent clean up

Weed control contract details revealed

A local Councillor has obtained details of the weed control contract that the York Council has with a Harrogate company.

Many complaints have been lodged about the poor appearance of streets in and around York this summer.

Weed control contract 2019

The contract includes a list of all the streets that should be treated Click here to download. It also specifies the quality standards that should be achieved.

Although it  is a long list, it appears that local Councillors weren’t given any chance to check that it was complete before the contract was tendered early in the spring.

While some weeds have been cleared from the gutters near the A59 junction with Station Road, the nearby underpass has not been treated

The contractor is required to treat car parking areas, back lanes, the City Walls and underpasses on the A1237. Paths should be treated up to the adjacent boundary wall.

One potential area of concern is responsibilities on trunk roads with the A59 a particular issue.

A copy of the contract can be downloaded by clicking here.

Residents have resorted to applying weed killer themselves to one traffic island. They will monitor how quickly the weeds are killed. Elsewhere on Station Road, Poppleton, and on the traffic islands nearby, there is little evidence of treatment by the Council’s contractors.

We hope that Councillors and residents will check their local neighbourhoods and report any weeds that have not been treated.

Before next summer, there should be a review of routes and working practices on this contract.

The Council should make this, and other street level public service contract specifications, available on their “open data” web site.

York cycle paths obstructed

More hedges have been allowed to overgrow cycle routes in York.

In the main the problems arise from publicly owned hedges although some are the result of uncut domestic boundary hedges.

Another problem area is the York-Selby cycle track which is now obstructed in places.

The issues include thorn bushes overgrowing the tracks at eye height – a major problem this year.

Hedges overgrowing cycle tracks . From top left Tadcaster Road (near Tesco) thorn branch, Skiddaw, York Selby cycle track (2)

Weed killing contract in York is worth £135,000

Details of the York Council’s highway weed killing contract have been published. They can be found on the public contracts register (click)

An extension clause means that the contract, which started on 1st May 2019, could continue for as long as 3 years. It is held by Adrian Morrison of Harrogate.

The volume of weeds in gullies, on paths and surrounding street furniture has produced a high level of complaints this year.

While the weather has a major influence on weed growth, lack of supervision of the contract is now a major issue in many neighbourhoods.

Independent Councillor Mark Warters has gone as far as calling for the work to be done “in house”. Failing that Parish Councils might be asked to supervise any work.

Mark Warters intends to apply weed killer to a particularly badly infested road in his ward as a way of demonstrating that improvements can be made and quickly.

Other Councillors should follow his lead.

York weed killing contract