£1.9 million from Council house sales unused in York

The Council has been forced to reveal,  in a response to a Freedom of Information request, how much it has received in income from “right to buy” Council housesales

Over the last 2 years the Council has received over £4 million from sales.

Part of this has to be returned to central government but £2.5 million was available for the Council to spend on replacement properties.

Right to buy sales in York

Right to buy sales in York

It has so far only committed to invest £520,624 on new properties (Mainly those scheduled for sites like Beckfield Lane).

The information was released only a day after the Council Leader had been forced to agree to consider whether some of the £13 million surplus on the housing account could be used to purchase properties on the open market.

Liberal Democrat Councillors have pointed out for months that, with the majority of applicants on the housing waiting list seeking single bedroomed accommodation, the quickest way to address their needs would be to purchase empty homes from the open market.

Instead of using the considerable resources available to the Council to provide additional social housing, the Councils Leadership have engaged in an ultimately pointless ramble about introducing a cap on private sector rent levels.

Such a “cap” would require Parliamentary approval and would not ultimately be of much help to the less well off, who have at least part of their rent paid through housing benefit

Lower rent levels could, therefore, reduce government expenditure on benefit payments but would also drive many “buy to let” landlords from the market (as they would be unable to repay their mortgages)

The Council Leader has also claimed that house prices have increased in York.

Although there are “hot spots” in the City and some growth in house prices over recent months, as the graph shows, prices have still not returned to their 2008 peak.

House price trends in York area

House price trends in York area

Well fancy that

Andrew Waller at the derelict garage site earlier in the week

Andrew Waller at the derelict garage site earlier in the week

Just 24 hours before York’s Labour cabinet were due to answer some embarrassing questions about a garage that had been allowed to fall into dereliction, workmen arrived yesterday to repair it.

The media reported on Monday that the garage on Windsor Garth had been boarded up since 2012.

Andrew Waller pointed out that there was a lack of off road parking available in the area and that the Council was losing a lot of income through failing to repair the garage.

The derelict site was also an eyesore.

Cllr Lynn Jeffries tabled a question on the long running saga which was due to be answered at tonight’s Council meeting.

Newly refurbished garage door on Wednesday

Newly refurbished garage door on Wednesday

£13 million surplus on York Council Housing account leads to “peer review”

One improvement, which we understand has now got the go ahead, will be aimed at dealing with parking problems on Hammerton Close

One improvement, which we understand has now got the go ahead, will be aimed at dealing with parking problems on Hammerton Close

A review of the, York Councils, Housing Business Plan is being put off until July.

The new plan was to have been revealed at a “Cabinet” meeting scheduled to take place next month.

Instead, apparently the Darlington Borough Council are to be involved in a “peer review” of Council Housing management in York. Darlington is also a Labour controlled local authority.

The delay will come as little surprise to many tenants  who have complained about lack of progress with much needed  estate improvements.  There is a long list of outstanding work including many requests for improved car parking, better security, renewal of fencing and upgrades to communal areas.

It appears that, despite the backlog of work, this years (2013/14) estate improvement budget  may not be fully utilised.

The Councils decision, not to use some of its £13 million surplus to buy additional Council homes on the open market, should be scrutinised.

NB The Council have again put off considering a report on how to deal with parking enforcement problems on Council estates.

The issue was first scheduled for consideration last autumn, but is now unclear when – or even if – the matter will be debated.

House sales buoyant in Westfield

There has been an increase in the number of house sales in the Woodthorpe and Westfield parts of York over recent months

A 5 bedroomed detached property in The Gallops recently went for a bargain £190,000 while a 4 bedroomed home in Westfield Place fetched £144,000.

Several 3 bedroomed properties sold for prices ranging from £147,000 on Bellhouse Way to £210,000 on Ashbourne Way

Bramham Avenue property advertised for £129,950

Bramham Avenue property advertised for £129,950

Properties still available include a 5 bedroomed home in Alness Drive for £295,000, a 4 bedroomed property on Foxwood Lane for £205,000 and a 3 bedroomed home on Bellhouse Way priced at £170,000.

The rental market remains buoyant with a 2 bedroomed terraced house in Gladstone Street available for £625 per calendar month while the owners are asking £950 pcm for a 3 bedroomed house in Fellbrook Avenue

Chain free properties, where new owners can move in quickly, range for a £130,000 2 bedroomed property in Stuart Road to and 5 bedroomed house on Moor Lane which is advertised for £389,500.

Fewer property owners are now discounting the properties that they are trying to sell. However, amongst the more realistically valued properties, added to the sales list recently, are homes in Bramham Avenue (2 bedrooms, £129,950) and a £137,000 two bedroomed flat in Holgate Road

A two bedroomed house in Falconer Street is advertised to rent at £570 pcm. Similar properties in Gladstone Street are costing £595 pcm while the cheapest 3 bedroomed property in Tedder Road is priced at £795 pcm

New options for tenants looking to downsize

The Council is encouraging tenants, of properties which are too large for them, to apply for new homes which will shortly become available in Clifton.

In the main, the new homes will have two bedrooms though, so offer little relief for the majority of people on the York Housing waiting list who are looking for one bedroomed properties.

An artist’s impression of the finished schemeCouncil and housing association tenants in York who are considering moving to a more manageable and affordable home, are invited to find out more about a new scheme for 23 affordable homes in the city.

Broadacres Housing Association in association with City of York Council, is holding a public information event at Clifton Green Primary School on Wednesday 12 March from 4.30-7pm.

The event will feature a new scheme to be built on the site of the former YWCA hostel in Water Lane. There, Broadacres is building 16, two-bedroom apartments for affordable rent. Priority will be given to people aged 55 and over who would benefit from moving to a smaller property.


Call to save advice sessions in Acomb

Acomb branch office closed by Labour in 2012

Acomb branch office closed by Labour in 2012

Liberal Democrat Councillor Lynn Jeffries is calling on Labour run York Council to guarantee that housing advice sessions in West York will continue despite funding cuts.

When Labour closed Acomb Housing Office in February 2012 they were forced to set-up alternative advice sessions at Foxwood and Chapelfields community centres. The weekly sessions offer residents help on housing, housing benefits and Council Tax support as well as on issues such as anti-social behaviour.

However, after Labour slashed funding to community centres the sessions are now in doubt. Cuts mean caretakers at the centres have been made redundant and therefore there is no longer a second member of staff on hand to ensure that the sessions can continue – a second staff member is needed due to lone worker regulations.


Over 700 residents sign up to energy switch scheme!

Over 700 residents have signed up to the collective energy switching scheme, which could lead to average savings of £158 on their gas and electricity bills.

The council partnered with energy switching expert’s iChoosr to make it easy and simple for residents to consider switching their energy tariffs. Residents had from December 10 until February 17 to sign up to the scheme.


Now dumping added to Foxwood empty home blight

A traffic sign and bin bags have been dumped outside 9 Bradley Drive.

9 Bradley Drive

9 Bradley Drive

The property has been empty for about 6 years. The Council was on the brink of gaining possession of the problem property – whose owner has absconded – in 2011 but the initiative was abandoned by the new Labour Council.

Two years later they did restart proceedings but little progress has been made and the building remains a target for vandals.

The Council has failed to improve the eyesore.

Positive response to Bellwood estate concerns

Landlords promise quick action



Access Housing, who manage Foxwood’s Bellhouse estate, have promised quick action to deal with residents concerns.

We reported yesterday about growing concerns about litter, dumping, overgrown hedges and other issues which are blighting the estate.

Now Access have promised that there will be a tidy up starting on Wednesday (12th March).

A part time caretaker is being engaged to undertake this type of work.

Contractors will be brought in the cut back hedges and smarten up the planted areas. It is hoped that the verges will also be edged.

Action is promised to improve the play area on Linnet Way.

The estate manager for the area is Jo Caveney. She holds a fortnightly surgery for residents and can be contacted on 0345 678 0573 (Email: joanne.caveney@accentgroup.org )


Bellwood estate residents backing “improve our neighbourhood” petition

A petition aimed at improving the appearance of sub-urban estates has got a boost from tenants living in the Bellwood Drive estate.



Obstructed paths

Obstructed paths

Litter drift

Litter drift

Neglected playground

Neglected playground

They complain about litter, dumping, poorly maintained communal areas and overgrown hedges. Most verges need edging and leaf detritus has been a hazard on some footpaths for over 6 months.

The issues have been raised with the landlord – the Middlesbrough based Accent Housing Association – and with the council.

Improve our neighbourhood petition