A59 weeds finally gone..leaf clearance starts,

Its taken over 4 months, but weed growth has finally been cleared from the drainage channels on the A59 near Poppleton. The work, undertaken yesterday by Council staff, has improved the appearance of this key entry into the City

Weeds on the A59 reported in early July
A59 gutters clear of weeds (17th October 2019)
The only area left to treat is the slip road onto Longfield Lane.

It remains unclear how far the Councils weed control contractors have got with their “3rd application” of weed killer.

Attention will now switch to the autumn leaf removal programme. This is due to start on Monday. It will last for about 8 weeks.

Councillors have been briefed in the following terms,

“The leaf clearance will be undertaken using both mechanical and manual means.

We will have two trailer drawn leaf vacuums, our teams will use these to remove leaves from pavements and grass verges.

Our two large mechanical sweepers will be targeted at streets with trees, using the local knowledge of our staff, members and reports made by residents.

These leaves cannot be recycled because they are cleared from nearby or on the roads and are treated as contaminated waste.

As always we cannot see and clear every street at one time, so we would be grateful for the following

  1. If you aware of leaves that are causing a ‘danger’ i.e. on a major footpath, near a school, elderly persons home etc.  and are wet and slippery, please report these to member enquiries, if not a ‘danger’ please monitor and we will get there!
  • Once the main leaf fall is over, if there are leaves, which appear to have been missed, please pass these through member enquires.

You may be interested to know that the Communities and Equalities team, who work with volunteers across the city have recently ‘enrolled’ about a dozen volunteer leaf clearers.

They are also working with volunteers from Goodgym to clear leaves from large grassed areas in the parks and these are recycled in leaf bays within the parks”.

Road repairs – little progress by York Council

The Councils Executive committee will discuss the vexed question of highways maintenance next week.
Foxwood Lane

If there is any basic public service likely to raise public ire,  it is the number of potholes and cracks in roads and footpaths.

 The conditions simply reflect many years of under investment in maintenance work.

The new Council was elected on a manifesto which promised improvements. They quickly moved to allocate an additional £1 million budget although half of this was earmarked for new cycling and footpath projects.

School Street

The expectation was that the, all too obvious, major problems would be quickly identified and a programme agreed for repairs. Anyone reading the report will be very disappointed.  There is no refreshed list of roads that will be resurfaced this year.

Officials even plead for existing policies to continue.

Councillors have had long enough to get a list of repairs on a ward by ward basis. With only 6 months to go in the current financial year, contracts for these repairs needed to be issued quickly.

Ideally this should have been done before ice took a further toll on the vulnerable surfaces of poorly maintained surfaces.

Morrell Court

The report talks of an annual condition survey. The survey details condition of every highway. All are graded between 1 and 5 with 5 being those in worst condition. (Grade 1: very good, • Grade 2: good, • Grade 3: fair, • Grade 4: poor, • Grade 5: very poor)

Over 13,000 stretches of highway are categorised as grade 5

That is little help.

A more detailed assessment is needed if the worst roads are to be prioritised.

The list is available for download from “open data” click here It is unfortunately categorised by ward names which were superceded over 15 years ago.

Walton Place

Still we can say that streets like Foxwood Lane and School Street are amongst the worst in the City. The 50 year old potholed access roads to Spurr Court and Morrel Court are graded at 4 (poor). Footpaths in streets like Walton Place don’t even get a mention.

We hope that Councillors will ask some searching questions next week.

All is not as it should be with highway maintenance operations at the York Council.

Fall-out from Balloon Fiesta noise complaints

The Council has admitted that it received a lot of complaints about noise levels experienced during the Balloon Fiesta which took place on the Knavesmire at the end of September.

The noise complaints didn’t relate to the balloons themselves (which mostly failed to get off the ground because of weather conditions).

The event was organised by Events and Attractions Limited, a York based company.

Officials of the Council firmly put the blame for lack of control on the premises license holder for the Knavesmire. This they identify as “Make it York”.

 Make it York is the secretive QUANGO set up by the Council several years ago to run tourism and promotional events in the City.  

Make it York were apparently told that a statutory noise nuisance was witnessed by Council officials over weekend of the 27th and 28th September.

According to an email seen by a local Councillor,

Make it York were asked to provide details of how they were going to prevent any further recurrences of noise nuisance from events at the Knavesmire and they have, as a result, submitted an application for a minor variation to the existing  premises licence. This application requests that an additional condition is added to the existing premises licence and will require Make it York to submit a noise management plan for approval by City of York Council within two months of the licence being varied. Once approved the noise management plan would be implemented immediately for any events held on the Knavesmire and operated under the premises licence”.

“It is anticipated that any submitted noise management plan will identify all potential noise sources associated with events taking place on the and provide details on strategies which will be implemented to minimise the disturbance caused to residents from those sources, especially those activities where amplified music is involved. It is also anticipated that any submitted noise management plan will also detail methods for monitoring and controlling the noise and how Make it York will respond to any noise complaint received in the future.

 As a result of the above it is the view of officers in Public Protection that such a condition should, if implemented correctly and adhered to, result in any noise from events taking place on the Knavesmire, and operated under the premises licence, being reduced to a satisfactory level such that it shouldn’t cause any further noise nuisance”.

The issue comes to a head at a difficult time for tourism support organisations in the region. “Welcome to Yorkshire” had to sack their Chief Executive following allegations of extravagance. The organisation subsequently had to be bailed out by taxpayers with a new Chairman promising more transparency in the future.

Make it York” is likely to be subject to similar calls.

It receives a substantial taxpayer subsidy, but its meetings are held behind closed doors.

The only sliver of accountability comes through brief and infrequent updates to a Council committee. The Council nominates two representatives to the Make it York 12 person Board (currently Cllrs Mason and Taylor)

According to the organisation’s web site, “The current turnover of Make It York is around £4.8 million per annum, generated commercially from a range of revenue sources. Other than any dividends payable to the Shareholder, any surplus is invested back into the city.

With respect to its corporate structure, Make It York is a private limited company limited by shares and has an independent Board of Directors.

 Its sole Shareholder is City of York Council”

Residents anger over Council plan to remove security railings

Local residents in Lowfields are objecting to plans to remove the railings which protect their garden boundaries.

The plan by the Council to replace the railings was first revleaed on tyhis site at the weekend.

According to their Facebook site, the Lowfields Residents Action Group is leading a campaign to get the Council to consult neighbours on their plans.

Their main concerns are about the appearance of a new fence, its impact on the natural environment, damage to existing landscaping and the money which would be wasted if the existing railings – which are in good condition – were junked.

Separately the Council has announced today that it will commence construction work on the site in two weeks time.

It is writing to residents telling them about a consultation meeting which is taking place next week and which will involve the Wates building contractors

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The Residents Group has responded saying, “We think this is pretty short notice for a consultation event.

The letter includes an evasive reference to “Yorspace” who we understand are still struggling to find funding for their communal living site.

It also pointedly doesn’t admit that the Council have failed to find a developer for their proposed elderly persons care home.

Nothing more either, on the public buildings (Health Centre and Police station) which seem less and less likely now to happen.

This means that there is no chance of building work on the whole site being finished within 2 years”.

Progress on unearthing traffic islands

We reported earlier in the summer that several traffic island had become overgrown. This was partly due to an accumulation of silt. It appears that the islands were not being hand-swept.

The Council is now beginning to catch up with a programme aimed at clearing the islands of detritus. Those on Foxwood Lane, for example, are now looking tidy.

A more structured approach to street cleansing is needed though as some islands, including those on the A1237, are not being routinely cleansed

Street cleansing standards on the Chapelfields estate do vary a lot.

Elsewhere the Foxwood Residents Association is set to discuss street cleansing standards in their neighbourhood at their monthly meeting which is being held tomorrow. Residents have questioned whether the sweeping frequencies, promised by the Council on its web site, are actually being undertaken.

Maps showing how often individual streets should be manually or mechanically cleansed are published on the Councils web site.

Action needed, Action taken

Mixed outlook on several outstanding public service issues in west York

We’ve reported a broken utility sign at the top of Grange Lane
Exposed cables have been tied to street signs in Milner Street for several weeks now.
Graffiti and litter continue to blight the Grange Lane snickets
We’ve suggested that hard core be used to make footpaths in the Grange Lane Westfield Park usable in wet weather
New record holder for the largest weed award. This 3 metre monster in Dijon Avenue next to a telegraph pole.
Loose rubbish continues to blight the rear of Front Street
Overgrown snicket on Gale Lane becoming a crime concern. We”ve asked the Ward Councillors to act.
Reported yet again litter, detritus and weeds on the Tithe Close snicket. Issue recorded by the Council as “solved” Clearly not!
Weeds flourishing on Hotham Avenue
….and Foxwood Lane
….and School Street

….But weeds cleared from Dijon Avenue garage area by Council. Now looks very tidy.

Do bus passengers get a fair deal in York?

After several stable years, we have seen some criticism recently of some bus services in the City. Changes to the number 12 service were poorly publicised following a late decision by the York Council to step in and save part of the service

Passengers in west York have criticised for a long time the lack of “real time” bus arrival information screens in the area.

Bus reliability stats, provided by tracking technology, are not shared with passengers, although a “one off” sample survey – due to be conducted in a few days time – does produce a snap shot of reliability.

One area that the York Council can help passengers with is the “bus stop experience”.

Unfortunately bus shelters, provided by the Council around 10 years ago, are now looking distinctly shabby.

The Foxwood Lane bus shelter has been re-purposed as an Arboretum. Weeds dangle from the gutters, and strangle the interior. The shelter is never cleaned, the perspex is opaque and the paint continues to peal.
The nearby shelter on Askham Lane is no better. At least the sight lines from the shelter are better this year as the Council actually cut part of the adjacent hedge in the spring. You can just about still see if a bus is on its way. Unfortunately they didn’t trim the hedge at the back of the shelter making cleaning and routine maintenance impossible. It is now very scruffy.
At least the weeds are held at bay on this Windsor Garth shelter. But it is rusting badly and also sports opaque windows.

York Council advertises for graffiti removers

Some signs today that the York Council has finally woken up to the decline in street environment standards. Two new staff will be employed to remove graffiti form public areas. The cost will be over £40,000.

This is “failure cost” of course.

Taxpayers will be annoyed that they are having to fund a reaction to an unlawful activity. There has been precious little evidence that any attempt has been made to identify, prosecute and seek compensation from those responsible.

Nevertheless, we cannot tolerate graffiti, which blights the environment so it is a positive move by the Council.

Hopefully we will soon also see effective action now to deal with other issues like weed blight, over grown hedges/trees and litter.

Litter problems in sub urban areas – and particularly Council estates – are getting worse. A combination of poor management and cuts to staffing levels have created a “perfect storm”.

Residents Associations, who have raised concerns about the situation on our Council estates, have received no response from those responsible.

If action is not taken quickly then formal complaints about the insensitivity of some officials and Councillors will not doubt, follow.

Bad news for City centre traders

Grim in Acomb

The latest footfall figures, reproduced by the BID team, reveal that there has been a 4% drop in visitor numbers so far this year. It is even worse on a year on year basis and is below the county average

That is a poor platform on which to approach the, normally busy, run up to Christmas.

In Acomb, the picture is slightly different with some traders reporting steady business trends. This is despite the lamentable performance recently of the Council in keeping open spaces, gutters and the areas around trees and street furniture free of weeds and litter.

Weeds still choke trees and seats on Front Street

The picture in residential areas is also disappointing with weeds disfiguring many streets