Report on public service reports in York

click to view

A report has been published which analyses the  reports made by members of the public using the “Fix My Street” app.  The University of Sterling research report relates issue volumes to “areas of deprivation”.

The York Council decided some 5 years ago to develop its own “app” for public service issue reporting (“Report it”). However the system has never worked properly lacking the flexibility and features available in commercial systems. Only litter and street lighting reports produce an instance reference number and “job completed” notifications.

Despite promises of an early upgrade to meet modern standards none has been forthcoming.

Clearly many residents still opt for “Fix My Street” and other systems to report issues. This means that someone at the Council has to manually re-key the reports into its ageing IT system.

This is the kind of inefficiency that the Council needs to tackle if it is to invest more in actually dealing with issues *on the street”

The Stirling research – not surprisingly – reveals that road and footpath reports are by far the greatest concern of York residents. 

Now Hope Street residents join clamour for York Council to invest more in road and footpath repairs

Following yesterdays appeal by residents living in Welborne Close for improvements to roads and footpaths in their area, people living in Hope Street have added their voices to the campaign.

In the City centre street, which lies close to Walmgate, parts of the carriageway have  worn away with the surface of the road now turning to dust. This is particularly dangerous for cycle and moped riders.

Footpaths also have become a patchwork of temporary reinstatements.

The Council will be considering its budget plans for next year shortly and campaigners will be seeking a substantial increase in allocations for road and footpath resurfacing across the City.

Liberal Democrat Councillor encourages residents to report treacherous potholes

Sheena with the potholes that she reported

Cllr Sheena Jackson, Liberal Democrat Ward Councillor for Westfield, is urging residents to report troublesome potholes on their local roads.

Across York, some sections of the highway have deteriorated due to poor weather conditions and general wear.  Whilst many of these issues are reported and subsequently repaired, there are still some areas which go unreported and unattended.

Residents can report potholes in their communities directly to the Council, even if they are relatively small in size.  In turn, this can help the Council improve upon its current highways database, even if the potholes are too small to be filled at the time of reporting.

Cllr Sheena Jackson, Liberal Democrat Ward Member for Westfield, said:

“Potholes are a regular nuisance for drivers and cyclists, and if left untouched, can deteriorate into serious hazards for road users. The first step in repairing our roads is to ensure all potholes are reported.”

“Recently, I had noticed large and dangerous potholes in my Ward.  Given the size of the pothole, I reported both immediately to the Council and within in a week, they were both filled.”

Workmen filling in potholes

“I want to encourage all residents across York to do the same and report potholes in their local areas.  This can help build the Council’s intelligence of its highways and better yet, lead to improved maintenance of our roads.”

“I would urge anyone to report these issues directly to the Council, or to their local Ward Councillors.”

All potholes and any other issues with the highways can be reported directly to the Council via or 01904551550  However, if any resident is having difficulties reporting a pothole, or the pothole has been reported and following action has been slow, then please do contact one of your local Liberal Democrat Ward Councillors or Action Teams at

Council revives survey into internet use

The York Council are asking residents to tell them about how communications systems could be improved.

They say that at present many residents use the most expensive (to process) channels to communicate with the Council.

They want residents to do more “on line

Given the lack of functionality – and unreliability – of the current “report it” system we think that the surveys timing is a but rich. They surely would have been wiser to implement and sustain improvements, before asking for feedback.

However, if anyone does have a view, they can express them by clicking this link.

Meanwhile we’ve tested the “Report It” system, now that it has been “fixed”, by reporting three issues.

Full litter bin on Beagle Ridge Drive

Plastic mats dumped on Walker Drive

Detritus on Bradley Drive snicket

Meanwhile Andrew Waller reports that the street light on Otterwood Lane has been repaired

Otterwood Lane street light repaired

Andrew has also reported problems with contaminated, missing or empty salt bins

Askham Lane salt bin almost empty

Front Street library salt bin missing

Grove Terrace litter in salt bin

Gremlins breeding in Council IT department?

It is not only the Council planning portal that is suffering problems.

The much vaunted – but never quite delivering – “do it online” reporting system has broken down again.

As we reported earlier in the year, anyone trying to report issues such as full litter bins will find it difficult to upload a photo of the problem. The Council actually encourages residents to provide an image of the issue being reported (to provide clarity on location and timing).

The Council site currently rejects most images offered. In turn this prevents the issue being uploaded to the Council’s Customer Relationship Management system. It is a repetition of a problem which existed when the system was first launched (and which seemed to have been fixed about a year ago)

Officials at the Council promised a fix several weeks ago but the system is still not working. Litter bin locations are, however, now shown on the site but the image upload problem persists.

Quite why the  Council simply didn’t purchase “off the shelf” the well tried Fix my Street system when they had the chance five years ago remains a mystery.

“On line” reporting is by far the cheapest channel of communication with the Council. It is quicker and avoids unnecessary manual intervention. It should be the preferred method of contact for routine problems. 

The Council pointedly refuses to publish performance statistics on the time taken to deal with issues reported via Email to the Customer Centre (the obvious 24/7 alternative to “on line” reporting) . These are thought to be in excess of 3 days. That is simply not good enough if the alternative “on line” systems are faulty.

Rumours persist that the Councils reporting system, which was developed “in house”, has been subject to an ongoing intellectual property rights wrangle.This continues to hinder its development and roll out.


So how good is the York Councils customer management system?

Hopefully Councillors will raise the veil of secrecy on 12th June when they receive another report on “Digital Services”. It is the latest episode in a drama which has offered much but has, so far, delivered very little to customers.

Put simply, the Council fails to manage its electronic interface with customers to an acceptable standard. Much faith was placed in the IT project which is now running 18 months behind schedule. So far, the only “on line” reports, using the “My Account” system, that can be made, concern litter.

These are usually dealt with quickly but are not without hiccups. An automatically generated “issue closed” Email message recently proved to be incorrect. The reported broken bottle was still there several hours after the issue had been closed (it was reopened).

But the main concern is that the vast majority of issues simply can’t be reported via the Councils web site with any confidence that action will be taken. They simply disappear into the ether with apparently random reference numbers generated which citizens find impossible to match to individual reports.

As we have said before, the system still lacks the flexibility of proprietary solutions like “fix my street”.  The Council could have bought a system off the shelf – as most other authorities have done – and by now would have been off and running.

All the Council can promise is that 7 more street service issues will be added to the system by the end of the summer.

It does claim that around 1000 digital transactions are completed each week but this includes high volume financial transactions.

The Council has seen a significant drop in the number of telephone calls that it receives. Fewer people visited the Customer Centre last year.

Significantly though, the Council still does not provide speed stats on key interfaces like Email. It is three years since the Council promised to improve its performance on this access channel.

It does look to customers like Emails still take 48 hours to be passed from the customer centre to the responsible department.

Some departments do later respond to reports lodged in this way.

Many do not.  

Performance “open data” on web site not updated. No figures provided for volumes. Email numbers completely missing

6 months since responsible Executive member publicly reviewed performance of customer contact centre

The circus is in town … and don’t we know it!

fly posters Fun fair junction box Posters next to 104 Askham Lane telephone kiosk Cornlands Road 28th Aug 2016BT kiosk Kingsway WestProblems with fly posting (and graffiti) have been under control in York until quite recently.

A crackdown 6 years ago resulted in a general agreement that posters would be restricted and would be removed within 2 days of an event having taken place.

Space might be made available, for worthy causes, to use public noticeboards while the growing number of web sites – like this one and that of the Council – offered modern, free publicity alternative for charitable events.

Unfortunately more posters have been put up recently which breach those guidelines.

In some cases the publicised events have already taken place. Many posters disfigure telephone kiosks & telecoms cabinets while some have even been put on boards and fixed to lampposts.

The Council has previously said,

“We expect officers from the Community Safety Hub will take steps identify perpetrators and write to them requiring that posters are removed within two days. If a follow-up visit shows they are still there, the posters will be removed and the perpetrators will be sent a bill for council time, along with a letter explaining that any repeat offences will be prosecuted under the Town & Country Planning Act.

Legally permitted posters include those the council is authorised to display such as dog fouling warnings and planning notices.

Graffiti non offensiveFor organisations which have exemptions – such as local charities or community events – they will be reminded of the guidelines. These specify that exempt organisations are allowed posters not more than 0.6m2 (approximately A2 size) which are permitted 28 days prior to the event and 14 days after. If these guidelines aren’t followed, action will be taken, starting with a bill for their removal”.

Meanwhile there has also been an increase in graffiti in the Gale Lane area.

All cases that we have seen have been reported but we urge residents to use to highlight any continuing problems


West York – The week in photos

Cllr Sue Hunter is encouraging residents to adopt local verges and amenity area and plant flowers. Grants may be available from the local Ward Committee for bulbs and containers

Lowfields verge flowers

Lowfields verge flowers

Windsor Garth

Windsor Garth

The Ward committee will be balloting residents shortly on their priorities for using the delegated budget. Among ideas put forward by residents are plans to lop trees and overgrown hedges.

Next Ward committee newsletter will include ballot paper

Next Ward committee newsletter will include ballot paper

Overgrown trees on Kingsthore reported by Andrew Waller

Overgrown trees on Kingsthorpe reported by Andrew Waller

More overgrown trees this time on Grange Lane

More overgrown trees this time on Grange Lane

Trustees have now signed a formal lease for the Foxwood Community Centre. It means that the centre will be largely free from Council control but will have to raise most of its income from lettings. It is now run entirely by volunteers.

Community Centre lease signing

Cllr Stephen Fenton Dringhouses ward (extreme left*) and Cllr Sheena Jackson Westfield Ward (extreme right*) and Trustees sign the Community Centre lease on Wednesday. (*not politically!)

Meanwhile Sheena has been out and about in the Foxwood area reporting issues for attention

Obstructed path

Obstructed path

In the Cornlands Road area, while out delivering the latest Focus newsletter, we spotted several issues requiring attention. These included  offensive graffiti on the Tithe Close snicket. Issues have been reported using

We'll be keeping an eye on drainage and gutters channel as tree begin to shed their leaves. There is an almost continual problem in St Stephens Road

We’ll be keeping an eye on drainage and gutter channels as trees begin to shed their leaves. There is an almost continual problem in St Stephens Square

It's some times difficult to know whether an item has been dumped or left out for the scrap merchant

It’s some times difficult to know whether an item has been dumped or left out for the scrap merchant

Andrew Waller has commenced a survey of the Askham Lane/Grange Lane area

Survey launched this weekend

Survey launched this weekend

Grange Lane field entrance 2

One of the issues being probed is whether residents would like to see kissing gates installed on the accesses to the local parks and open areas. At present there are problems with motorcyclists riding near where children play