Leaf problems reported

We’re reporting leaf fall issues when they represent a safety issue. No one expects the Council to clear all leaves immediately but footpaths do need some priority.

We reported the self seeded Sycamore tree on Balfour Street several months ago and were promised that it would receive attention. The tree has damaged the adjacent railings and made the adjacent path uneven. The tree needs to be replaced, with an appropriate species, on the ample adjacent site.

In the meantime Balfour Street is covered in tree detritus and needs to be cleared

Balfour Street

Council action plan on graffiti

The York Council has published a report indicating how it will respond to reports of graffiti in future.

Domestic properties, hit by graffiti, will be offered a free removal service. Householders will have to give written permission for the Council to undertake the work. We think this initiative  is right. Simply living next to a public footpath should not involve the inconvenience and cost of having to remove unwanted graffiti from house walls.  

Owners of commercial premises will be offered the same service but will have to pay for it (£52 per sq. meter).

For the first time for over 5 years the Council has republished the current service level agreement for dealing with issues on Council estates. These were sometime called “customer contracts” in the past and were last reviewed in May 2013.  It confirms that target times for the removal of graffiti.  The Council will remove racist or offensive graffiti on council property within 24 hours. They will remove all other graffiti from council property within 5 working days.

The Council report is weak in two respects.

Money spent – almost £90,000 in a full year on removing graffiti – is a cost of failure. It simply shouldn’t happen. Yet the report fails to review what enforcement measures are being taken. There are no details given of prosecutions over the last few years.

Subjectively it does seem that the authorities have given criminal damage cases in general, and graffiti in particular, a low enforcement priority. Given the damage given to the City’s image by this crime, that approach needs to change in the future.

Secondly the new process doesn’t provide for preventative measures to be taken when graffiti is removed. There are anti-graffiti coatings available which repel paint and allows graffiti to be removed more easily.

This is a welcome step forward by a Council which has been severely criticised for failings in street level public service standards over the summer period.

Hopefully other issues will now get similar attention.

Complaints about York Council up by 20%

1622 complaints were made against the York Council in the 12 months to April 2019. The figures are revealed in a  report published today. They represent an increase from the 1353 recorded in the previous year.  

The vast majority of the complaints related to lack of action with other relating to “inappropriate action” 45% of the complaints were either fully or partially upheld.  397 cases reach a second complaint stage. 58% of these were at least partially upheld.

156 complaints were escalated to the final local stage with 6 at least partially upheld.

60 cases were sent on to the Ombudsman who upheld 11 of them. A summary of the Ombudsman’s finding in each case is included at the end of the report In some case modest financial compensation has been paid.

The figures show an increase in complaints about social care.

236 “compliments” were also recorded about the Council and its staff

Issues addressed in Foxwood

Thanks to JRHT who have cut back the hedges on, and cleared litter from, the Teal Drive pocket park and also Bellhouse Way. Looks much tidier and safer.

Broken glass on Herman Walk footpath reported
Also dog fouling on a local snicket
Unfortunately the volunteer litter pick had to be abandoned today because of wet weather. We hope residents will find time to clean up their own streets over the next few days.
We also still need residents to check that any boundary hedges (particularly thorn hedges) are trimmed back from footpaths.

Gale Lane resurfacing works from 18th November with road closure. Bus services affected

Foss Bank affected next week

City of York Council will be carrying out resurfacing works on:

  • Foss Bank from Monday 4 November between 7.30pm till 5am working Monday to Friday
  • Gale Lane from on Monday 18 November between 9.15am till 5pm working Monday to Friday

Foss Bank: In order to carry out these works safely the use of a temporary road closure from the roundabout at Heworth Green to just past Sainsbury’s entrance will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

A clearly signed diversion route will be set out for through traffic. Buses will be diverted during working hours. The diversion for bus service 14 will be Heworth Green, Eboracum Way and Layerthorpe.

Site staff will be on hand to advise and assist residents about the access restrictions once the works are ongoing.

Any specific access requirements may be arranged by speaking to the onsite staff who will co-ordinate with residents and business requirements around ongoing construction operations.

There will be no access to Sainsbury’s from Foss Bank during the works period. However, customers will be able to access Sainsbury’s from Jewbury.

Gale Lane: A temporary road closure from the mini-roundabout at Cornlands Road to, and including, the junction of St Stephen’s Road will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

Buses will be diverted during working hours. This includes a diversion for bus service 4 – at southern end of Green Lane, turn around roundabout and return through Acomb via Green Lane, Front St, Gale Lane, resuming normal route at Cornlands Rd.

Service 24 – from Ascot Way terminus via Kingsway West, Danesford Ave, Stuart Rd, Tudor Rd, Green Lane, Front St, Gale Lane, Cornlands Rd resuming normal route halfway along Cornlands Rd.

Emergency services will be permitted through at all times. Cyclists will have to dismount and use the footways.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience to the public, however everything will be done to keep any disruption to a minimum.

For more information on roadworks in York, visit www.york.gov.uk/roadworks

For travel information and advice visit www.itravelyork.info

Extra winter beds opening for rough sleepers in York

People sleeping rough in York can safely bed down this winter as extra emergency beds are being offered again, whatever the weather, from 1 November 2019 until 28 February 2020.

Besides securing nearly £400,000 extra fund for additional outreach workers to give rough more intensive support especially around mental health, York goes above and beyond the national ‘severe weather scheme’. Regardless of whether it’s freezing or not, we make extra emergency beds available bringing the total up to 29 in the winter months: that’s 20 more beds than our current official number of nine rough sleepers in the city.

Five of the emergency beds have been created at a council hostel and are being supported by volunteers from the YES Below Zero scheme. Last year this provision supported 18 rough sleepers into private rented accommodation.

Also in 2018-19, the council resettled 58 former rough sleepers or single homeless people into permanent tenancies, and accommodated 66 households during a period of homelessness.

People leaving sleeping on the streets are placed in the city’s 101-bed supported accommodation schemes. Their dogs can also be brought into emergency accommodation as has been the case in York since 2000.

The people are offered support and education to help address any of the issues that may have contributed to them becoming homeless. This includes referral to services for mental health or substance misuse, and training for work and how to manage a lasting tenancy.

Once that stage is successfully underway, they are allocated space in the city’s 90 independent accommodation units before, hopefully, supporting them into either private or affordable fully-independent homes.

Councillor Denise Craghill, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Rough sleeping has increased by 132% nationally since 2010 with only a small decrease of 6% nationally during 2018-19. We have secured nearly £400,000 funding for 2019/20 to explore new ways to prevent it, as sleeping on the street lowers life expectancy to 47 years.

“With our partners The Salvation Army, Changing Lives, Peasholme Charity, Restore, YES Below Zero, Carecent and KEY, we continue to offer all known people sleeping rough help to get off the street and into safer, more stable lifestyle, including extra support for people with mental health and substance misuse issues.

“Help is routinely offered to rough sleepers on the early morning walks undertaken several times a week when everyone is offered a bed.”

Charles Walters, of the YES Below Zero team, said: “We are looking forward to building on the solid start YES Below Zero made over the 2018/2019 winter season. The team of volunteers was encouraged by the significant number of positive outcomes.

“As we gear up to help contribute capacity to the emergency bed provision for this next winter season, we invite those who are interested in volunteering to contact us on atbarnett33@gmail.com.

  • To alert support services to a rough sleeper, please ring Street Link on 0300 500 0914.
  • Or, please join us encouraging people sleeping rough to go to The Salvation Army’s early intervention and prevention hub at 63 Lawrence Street, York YO10 3BU between 10am and 12 noon when they’ll be given support.
  • At night or the weekend, rough sleepers can call 01609 780780 for help.
  • To find out ways to donate and support people out of homelessness, please visit www.york.gov.uk/roughsleeping

Good time to secure your recycling

The Council said yesterday (Tuesday) that it had failed to collect recycling from Tedder Road and Slessor Road. They blamed a vehicle breakdown.

Notice on Council web site Tuesday 29th October 2019

The Council says that they will call back to collect the recycling on SATURDAY.

We suspect that message may have not got back to residents. Most have left their recycling on the street. Normally this might not matter – if it was secured from wind and animal attacks – but with the arrival of “Mischief Night” we think residents would be wise to put the recycling in a secure place.

Recycling awaiting collection

Often the Council says that it will catch up with collections on the next working day; but not in this case. This is confusing for residents.

It does raise several questions about how effective the Councils communications channels are. Failings in the waste collection service this summer have been so frequent it almost requires a daily update from them using all social media channels.

The Council might also issue regular updates indicating when more reliable vehicles, with adequate capacity, will be delivered.

Missed bin updates are posted on this link (click) at around 5:00pm each day

We’ve reported the overgrowing thorn bush which is obstructing the entrance to the Chesney Field cycle track

Issues reported to York Council

While there has been some improvement in some local public services this week, we’re still finding, and reporting, a lot of local issues that require attention

ridge dumped at entrance to farmers field
A lot of local snickets like this one on Cornlands Road require more regular sweeping. Several now need to be resurfaced.
More Graffiti
…..and we’ve reported full litter bins on Beagle Ridge Drive and Acomb car park

Bus shelter clean up welcomed

We reported last week that several of the Council owned bus shelters in west York were looking shabby. Some were overgrown with weeds and undergrowth.

We are pleased to report that, following our highlighting the issue to the York Council , some of the shelters have been tidied up. Undergrowth has been cut back from the shelters making them much more user friendly.

However the work undertaken has also served to emphasise how much these shelters need a coat of paint and other refurbishment.

Many are now rusting quite badly.

Foxwood Lane shelter. No longer an Arboretum
Shelter near Otterwood Lane as tidied up
Askham Lane bus shelter, although very rusty, is now free of undergrowth

We were also pleased to see for the first time for some time today that the Cornlands Park was largely free of litter.

There seems to be a slow improvement in some public service standards in the City following a disappointing summer.

Cornlands park

North Yorkshire Police to discuss increase in crime levels tomorrow

A meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) will hear how the  Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner intends to tackle an increase in crime levels in the area.  The meeting will be told that there some 3837 crimes reported during September.

Across the whole of North Yorkshire, including York, the Guildhall Ward had the largest number of crimes (212).

 In York it was followed by Huntington (91) and Westfield (79).

The largest proportion of crimes in York relate to violence (457), followed by theft (390), arson/criminal damage (153) and burglary (120). Perhaps surprisingly only 47 drug offences were reported.

Overall across the county there has been a 2.5% increase in crime levels this year so far compared to 12 months ago. Over the last two years the increase has been 16%. The biggest increase has been in public order offences. Violence against the person offences have increased from 5504 in 2017 to 7747 this year (up 40%)

There has been an increase in shoplifting in York this year. Recorded anti-social behaviour has however shown a reduction (-17%)

The scale of the problems with the Police switchboard are revealed.

222 calls to 999 were abandoned during August.

 There is a similar picture on 101 calls where 6050 were abandoned during July.

Time to answer on both channels improved during September.

The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and police staff deserve credit for producing figures which can be accessed via the web. Click here   The sheer size of the county, and its diversity, make it difficult to produce performance stats which are both accessible and relevant to local neighbourhoods.

There is some good work going on at neighbourhood level with police in west York proactively checking security issues this week

There will, however, be niggling doubts about some aspects of crime prevention.

Lack of reports of drug related crime is probably not the right way to access the scale of that issue.

Equally worrying is the failure of the force to recruit up to its budgeted staff numbers. There were estill over 30 vacancies for police officers in the force in September. The police don’t expect to hit their target number (1450 officers) until December. There are also 36 vacancies for PCSOs.

Performance stats for the Fire service can be viewed by clicking here