Extra noise patrols in York in run up to Bonfire Night

Bonfire night can be fun for all, but if it creates nuisance to neighbours, the council can take enforcement action. That’s the message from City of York Council this autumn.

Midsummer bonfire against a night sky, moon

The council is reminding residents that garden waste can be disposed of by composting, recycling or through the green bin rather than heaping it on a bonfire – especially if it’s damp. Gardeners can use a topical check list of bonfire night do’s and don’ts relevant at any time of year:

• It’s best to burn materials when they are dry

• Household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic foam or paint should never be burned and should be disposed of at York’s household waste recycling centres

• Never use engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire

• Try and light fires when light wind will carry smoke away from your neighbours

Thanks to funding from the Safer York Partnership, the council will be running extra noise patrols to help tackle the problems of excessive bonfire smoke and noise in the days surrounding the event.

The council has put together a helpful list of do’s and don’ts for bonfire night events, but it will also be happy to offer practical advice to those holding their own fireworks events, if require d.

We will be running extra patrols on 5 November to help tackle any potential problems. Residents can call the council’s environmental protection unit (EPU) on 01904 551555.

Extra noise patrols will run on:

Thursday 31 October, 10pm-1am

Friday 1 November, 9pm-3am

Saturday 2 November, 9pm-3am

Sunday 3 November, 6-11pm

Thursday 5 November, 10pm-1am

Residents can contact the EPU on: Environmental.protection@york.gov.uk

There is more information on bonfires at: http://www.york.gov.uk/info/200360/air_pollution/486/air_pollution/2

No surprises on Tour de France route – Labour Councillor on “freebie” to Paris?

There were no surprises when the route that the Tour de France will take though York was revealed today in Paris.

click for enteractive map

click for enteractive map

The route will start from the Racecourse on Sunday 6th July taking in the City centre before leaving the City via Bootham, Clifton Bridge and Boroughbridge Road and making its way to Harrogate and Sheffield.

York taxpayers are already set to get a bill for over £1.4 million for the stage two depart event.

There were no surprises either when it was revealed that another Labour Councillor jumped at the chance to visit Paris today for the, somewhat less than historic, announcement of “Le route”.

This time is it was Cllr Tracey Simpson Laing, who represents the Acomb Ward, who took the opportunity to top up her air miles.

The trip came only a couple of days after the Council decided to scrap 12 self help salt bins in the Acomb ward (see list below)

These bins would have cost £600 to fill with salt this winter.

NB. Co-incidentally, the cost of 2 airline tickets from Leeds/Bradford to Paris return is around £500. Eurostar is a bit cheaper.

The Acomb Ward salt bins being scrapped by the Council are located at:

Concern over Illuminating York 20% price hike

Liberal Democrats have raised concerns that ticket prices for this year’s Illuminating York Festival have significantly increased despite the 2012 event being branded a “disappointment”.

Illuminating York 2013

Illuminating York 2013

The Labour run City of York Council introduced charging for the – previously free – event last year. There were complaints about the £5 admission charge while Vic Reeves’ ‘Wonderland’ production received a backlash of negative comments and poor reviews.

However, the admission charges and £26,000 contribution from council funds meant the event made a £16,000 ‘profit’ which Labour promised would be “invested in next year’s event”.

Many hoped that this promise would see a return to the previous free admissions policy.

However, this year’s event, which will runs from October 30th – November 2nd, sees admission charges for the overall festival for adults increase from £5 to £6 and for under 16s from £1 to £5, with under 5’s still going free.

This means that a family of four, with two school-age children, would see their ticket costs rise by a whopping 83%.

The increase has been described as contrary to the Labour Leaders statements about the need to control the cost of living


Library attendances down in York

Overall use of York’s libraries fell by over 3000 last year.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

However just over 1 million visits were recorded which is still above the average for City’s of a similar size.

Every Library in the City except Fulford showed a reduction.

The overall fall would have been even greater had it not been for the newly opened Rowntree Park library which attracted nearly 50,000 users. However the new library depended on a large number of special events to attract visitors and it is too early to judge its long term attractiveness.

Acomb Explore Library

Acomb Explore Library

It appears that the Council has taken its eye off the ball recently with the controversial plan to privatise the library service having apparently affected staff morale while at the same time monopolising senior management time.

Even Labour Party supporters are unhappy with this plan with one member taking the opportunity to speak against the proposals at the last Council meeting.

The concern is that Labour are trying to distance themselves from the library service before reducing the subsidy available (and thereby forcing closures).

The largest drop in numbers was at the Acomb Library. This may be because special events – such as evenings with prominent authors – have been fewer in number recently.

A plan to locate Council customer facing staff from the housing and neighbourhood teams at the library was scrapped by Labour when they took office in 2011. This made it more difficult for the building to become the “hub” for activities in the Acomb area.

Sky Ride local in York this weekend at York Sport village

Sky ride

A series of inclusive Sky Ride Local rides will be taking place in York thanks to a partnership between British Cycling and Sky.

Rides will take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October from 3pm until 5pm on the 1km purpose built cycling track at the York Sport Village on Hull Road

Get Cycling will have a fleet of adapted bikes for people to test out so everyone can take part.

Children aged 8 and above and adults can ride their own bikes, or use one of the adapted bikes.

Children aged under 8 are welcome to use tow bikes, trailers and frame seats. All riders are required to wear a helmet.

To sign up for one of the free, fun Sky Rides go to www.goskyride.com/York

5,500 cyclists took to the streets of York on September 14 for the first ever Sky Ride.

Grange Lane play area petition – decision next Wednesday

The 251 signature petition which asked for a dog proof fence, poop scoop and litter bins to be provided at the Grange Lane playground will be discussed next Wednesday.

Grange Lane petition. click to enlarge

Grange Lane petition. click to enlarge

Residents collected the petition following problems with dog fouling around the play equipment.

Officials say that there is no money to pay for a fence and, of course, Labour Councillors voted last year to substantially reduce the numbers of litter and dog bins in the City.

It is possible that an existing bin might be re-positioned closer to the playground.

The cost of the fence is put at £7,200. Officials say that the scheme should be one of those funded from the estate improvement budget.

However this totals only £9,500 and must address all the needs of the Chapelfields area.

Some might think that a small reduction in the £1.4 million that the Council is going to spend – in a single day – on the start event for a stage of the Tour de France, might be more usefully be spent addressing safety and environmental problems like these.

Residents may attend and speak on the proposals at the meeting which is taking place at West Offices on Toft Green on Wednesday 9th October starting at 4:00pm.

You must register to speak before the meeting. The deadline for registering is 5pm on Tuesday 8th October 2013. Telephone – (01904) 552062 Laura Bootland.

Written representations must be made by 5pm on Monday 7th October 2013. They should be E-mailed to laura.bootland@york.gov.uk

Council service satisfaction levels down as £1.4 million now allocated to pay for Tour De France start,

Public satisfaction with the way that the Labour Council is performing is dropping according to the authorities own figures.

Around 4000 residents responded to a Council survey. The percentage satisfied with the way that the Council runs things dropped from 63% to 54% in just 12 months.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The results need to be viewed with caution given the volatility of public opinion – and the likely sample bias on a post back survey – but other polls tell a similar story.

The Council could have taken the opportunity to test public opinion on a range of controversial issues such as:

• The proposed cuts to the number of roads being gritted this winter and the planned removal of self help salt bins.

• It’s plans to expand the size of the City by 25% over the next 15 years

• Changes to bus services and its refusal to publish reliability figures

• The bungled changes to refuse collection arrangements.

• Secret “behind closed doors” decision making.

• The introduction of wide area 20 mph speed limits

• The Lendal Bridge and Coppergate traffic restrictions.

Without these figures the Council may find it difficult to understand why its reputation is suffering.

Meanwhile Labour are now admitting that York taxpayers face an enormous £1.4 million bill for hosting the second day start of the Tour De France.

That is over and above the money being taken from existing budgets such as highways resurfacing.

Put in context, the annual repayment costs on the money borrowed to fund this one day event will be over £100,000 or enough to sustain existing winter maintenance (de-icing) standards for the next 20 years.

It is probably not surprising that residents weren’t given the opportunity to comment, in the Council’s survey, on this priority.

Foxwood Residents win Yorkshire in Bloom award

Yorkshire in Bloom award

The Foxwood Residents Association has been awarded a prestigious Britain in Bloom award.

They have been named as “Thriving” in the It’s Your Neighbourhood category of Yorkshire in Bloom.

It is only the second time that the Association has entered the competition.

They were particularly praised for the work that they did on the “Garden of the Year” competition.