That was the week that was in pictures

Some streets cleaner

Good to see that progress has been made in clearing moss and detritus from the Grange Lane – Chapelfields Road snicket. Nearby hydrants sign – damaged 2 years ago – has still not been repaired

and the lane to the rear of the Front Street/ Beaconsfield Street is tidier than it has been for some time

No sign of York Council road repairs programme

Although the new financial year starts today, there is still no sign of the York Councils road resurfacing programme for 2021/22.

The plan is usually published in March prior to going though an approvals process.

In recent years the allocation of the budget has been delegated to officers at the authority with any decision meetings held behind closed doors.

Beech Grove in Acomb – One of many carriageways needing repairs

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey has however been published.

The study examines the scale – and potential costs – of delayed road maintenance schemes across the country.

Click to read full report

Join the conversation about Acomb Front Street’s future

Businesses, residents and visitors are being asked what they love and what they’d like to change about Acomb’s Front Street.

The consultation is the much delayed opportunity to help with the regeneration of the Front Street area.

Fruit stall

The council committed to a £50,000 investment in Front Street, one of the city’s most important shopping areas, before the pandemic brought about even larger challenges to high streets across the UK.

Acomb’s Front Street plays a vital role in the community and the wider city, and is home to many established and well-loved local independent retailers and community spaces. It has a lower than national average proportion of empty units, with occupancy rates bucking the UK trend by increasing significantly in the last three years.

The council is now asking for views which will help to keep Front Street at the heart Acomb’s economy and community.

The Council says that last year “we postponed the survey because of Covid-19. Your views in the survey will be used to create a ‘brief’ of community ideas which we can check with local people before the council executive decides what improvements to make”.

500 residents have already had a new COVID-secure knock on their door from IdB, a market research company working with the council.  The council is working alongside IdB to ask for feedback and ideas from a diverse and representative cross section of Acomb residents. The surveys will be dropped with residents in a sterile bag, along with gloves, an antiviral wipe and a return bag. The market researcher will then return later that day to collect the questionnaire.

Residents can also get involved by:

Good news and the bad news

Good to see that the Post Box on Beagle Ridge Drive has finally been reinstated. It was first sealed off over 6 months ago

Meanwhile, across the street, the long term empty Council bungalow – which the Council has been unable to re-let – is regularly being vandalised. Several other properties have also been targeted.

We are beginning to lose confidence in the York Councils housing management officials.

The Council has been without a permanent head for its Council housing team for nearly a year now. Estate management vacancies are not being filled despite the housing accounts showing a substantial surplus.

York deserves better

Meanwhile the next Councils meeting agenda has been published. Anyone hoping for evidence that Councillors are addressing the major decline in public service standards will be disappointed.

With NHS staff being undervalued, unemployment rates rising, highway network maintenance standards at a new low, street level crime on the rise and housing in a management vacuum, you might have expected at least the official Labour opposition to highlight the issues. In fact you could reasonably expect most back bench Councillors of all parties to start to seriously question what is going wrong.

But no. Labour use an agenda motion to agonise about transgender recognition. They want to instruct schools to use trans childrens “preferred name pronoun”.

Road repairs backlog grows

The backlog of requests for patching and resurfacing of roads in York seems to be growing.

Officials have refused to fill in potholes like these on The Gallops

Requests for potholes to be filled and uneven roads repaired are now being routinely turned down.

The risks for cyclists and pedestrians are rising.

Even when officials decide that some work is needed only rudimentary work is done to potholes. They usually require attention again within a few weeks.

The very least that officials and responsible Councillors should do is explain their policies, what is possible within existing budget allocations and when residents can reasonably expect to see an improvements.

Some pretty bad mistakes seem to have been made when the allocation of basic maintenance budgets was agreed.

Councillors seem oblivious to the growing chorus of complaints.

This issue is an election loser if ever there was one

NB. The resurfacing programme for the new financial year should be published shortly

Issues reported in west York

It looks like many highways defects have been left waiting for attention for so long that expensive remedial works are now needed.

Many carriageways which needed patching in the summer and autumn were ignored. Now some are worn down to the hardcore base while others have multiple surface defects. Several represent a hazard for two wheeled transport users.

We have reported the following streets (but these may just be the tip of the iceberg).

  • Walker Drive
  • Vincent Way
  • Gladstone Street
  • Hotham Avenue
  • Lowfields Drive
  • School Street

There are also some problems also with leaf and tree detritus. We’ve reported two areas

  • Green Lane
  • Kingsthorpe

Finally builders waste has been dumped in the little Green Lane garage area. We’ve asked for it to be removed.

Little Green Lane garage area 19th Feb 2021

Ward budgets under review

The York Council is reviewing how the £4.8 million budget, delegated to be spent pro rata in wards across the City, is being used. Those reading the report will be little the wiser.

Even before COVID struck, there was a marked lack of transparency on the budget process while prioritisation had become an almost mystic art.

 In most parts of the City, resident involvement – the principal objective of devolution – has been almost completely missing.

Originally, the money was apportioned to be spent on

  • Local improvements (something which has been happening in the City for over 20 years).
  • “Pride in York”,
  • Safer Communities (crime prevention),
  • Highways improvements, &
  • Council estate improvements (another long running programme which is funded from rents).  

The precise division of the budget can be viewed by clicking here

Muddy paths are unusable for exercise

 In the autumn the budget was top sliced to provide funding for COVID relief. A list of the schemes benefiting can be seen by clicking here.  £55,000 has gone to a limited number of organisations.

As with the rest of the report, there are few numbers detailing how many residents have actually benefited and in what way.

Promised investment in snicket repairs hasn’t happened.

While responding to the pandemic will be viewed as a worthy initiative, the report fails to detail the Councils response to many other requests for help .

For example, the lockdown has meant that many more people are exercising on local off-road paths. The result is that many are now showing major signs of wear and tear.

It is a similar situation with the off-road cycle network.

Ward spends are closely monitored and reported on, with all ward spending published as an online ‘Officer Decision Log’ and a regularly updated spreadsheet uploaded to the open data platform

York Council report January 2021

No updates on highways, pedestrian, cycling or estate improvement schemes are provided on the Councils open data web site.

The format of most officer decisions is impenetrable click

  All in all, the system has turned into a bureaucratic labyrinth which needs to be simplified and managed properly.

Transparency, proper performance management information and resident involvement would be  good places to start.

Rain brings new problems for York

There has been some persistent rain in York. This has brought some issues with flooding and surface water.

Ponding near the shops on Cornlands Road. Possible blocked gulley makes access difficult for pedestrians
Verges are vulnerable to vehicle over-run damage when waterlogged
Weather a challenge for building works in the area
Perhaps not surprisingly given the pressures on Council services, some autumn leaves haven’t been swept up yet
The former play area on Kingsway West has now been grassed over but access barriers are still in place. Still no sign of progress on a replacement although the Council has made provision for the project in its budget for the next financial year.

Please take the opportunity to report any blocked drains or other issues which may be a hazard for residents. Click here

Ice gone, potholes appear, flood warnings

The ice and snow has largely disappeared from York today.

In its place are a new – and not so new – crop of potholes.

Please help to make the City safer by reporting any that are a danger to road users.

Potholes on Foxwood Lane are multiplying.

The next problem we are likely to face is flooding. Three Flood Warnings are already in place for the City.

It will be two or three days before the snow melt in the Dales & Moors catchment areas reaches the City.

Progress can be viewed by clicking the image below.

Surface water drainage seems to be less of a problem at the moment.

The Knavesmire flood works seem to have reduced the standing water problem which was a feature of most winters until recently.

We’ve reported some rubbish which was revealed as the snow melted, including this black bag on Hob Moor.