York Council urged to tackle long term complaints

Cycle barriers Teal Drive

Cycle barriers on  Teal Drive snicket still need painting

Untidy entrance to former Lowfields School with redundant salt bin

Untidy entrance to former Lowfields School with redundant salt bin

Dumping at Kingsway kick about area has now mostly been removed

Dumping at Kingsway kick about area has now mostly been removed

More dumping next to paper banks at Acomb Car park

More dumping next to paper banks at Acomb Car park

Longest ouytstanding issue - Self seeded bush on Foxwood Lane blocks footpath and should be removed

Longest outstanding issue – Self seeded bush on Foxwood Lane blocks footpath and should be removed

Time for leaves to be swept up. The Green and little Green Lane reported for action

Time for leaves to be swept up. The Green and little Green Lane reported for action

Litter in over gronw hedge - Tithe Close snicket

Litter in overgrown hedge – Tithe Close snicket

Little Green Lane garage area - worst case of Council neglect?

Little Green Lane garage area – worst case of Council neglect?

Railings around Thanet Road sports area need painting

Railings around Thanet Road sports area need painting

Long life weeds blighting Ridgeway

Long life weeds still blighting Ridgeway

School Street carriageway surface

School Street carriageway resurfacng still needed

Salt mines introduce overtime working as York Council claims it is among the UK’s top social landlords

Appaling neglect on York Council estates

Appaling neglect on York Council estates

The City of York Council has issued a media release saying that it will “shortly publish and share its annual report for 2014/15 revealing that it is among the UK’s top-performing social landlords”.

All tenants and leaseholders will receive a copy.

The report is noticeably silent on complaints about the poor maintenance on garage and communal areas, lack of parking provision and insensitive housing management practices which even Councillors are unable to break through.
Salt pile for use by York Council Housing management

Salt pile for use by York Council Housing management officials

The report, apparently produced by the “Tenant Scrutiny Panel” of six council tenants, looks at how the council has performed in the previous 12 months and shows that York is one of the best-performing local authority landlords in the country in a number of areas*.

The claims include scores “revealing that just under nine out of 10 tenants responding to the Tenant Satisfaction Survey were satisfied with the overall service we provide, and that 81% were satisfied with their repairs and maintenance service. Just over eight out of ten were satisfied with the overall appearance of their neighbourhood”.

“One highlight of the past year has been the work on Le Tour Way, off Beckfield Lane which completed in 2015, and which is the second development of new homes built as part of the council’s house building programme. It is a mixed development of nine apartments for tenants aged 55 and over, a further nine council houses and nine more houses for market sale”.

“Developing ‘Community Hub’ services to tenants have progressed with a new community facility opening at ‘Space 217’ on Lindsey Avenue. It offers sessions for tenants to meet estate managers and open-door events with money and employment advisors”.

“12 council homes had loft conversions built for growing families, 665 families were given advice that prevented them becoming homeless, 40 flats were sound-proofed and we evicted 33 tenants who did not pay their rent”.

The future holds a number of challenges for the service which will be addressed alongside considering how to improve service delivery in the coming year.

The claims contrast with our experience of Council housing management in the City over the last few months.
The department now seems to take little pride in local neighbourhoods and regularly turns a blind eye to issues.
The result is that many estates are deteriorating
(more…)

York residents encouraged to ‘Know Your Rights’

PrintAs part of this year’s National Consumer Week, 2 to 8 November, the York Council’s Public Protection team is raising awareness of new rights for consumers when purchasing goods and services.

The Week, themed ‘Know Your Rights’, aims to give consumers more information about the Consumer Rights Act which came into force on 1 October 2015. The act clarifies how long consumers have to reject goods and limits traders to just one attempt to repair goods. For the first time, it includes specific rights when digital content, such as computer programs, are faulty.

The new Consumer Rights Act states that services must be carried out with reasonable care and skill and within a reasonable time for a reasonable price (where this has not been agreed beforehand).

Goods must now be:

click to access

click to access

  • as described and the same as an sample or model shown beforehand
  • of satisfactory quality, meaning fit for all usual purposes, safe and reasonably durable
  • fit for any particular purpose made known
  • installed correctly, for example in the case of fitted kitchens.

Consumers may now:

  • reject faulty or mis-described goods for a full refund within 30 days of purchase or delivery, or ask for a free replacement or free repair when outside of the 30 days 
  • require goods to be re-installed correctly for free 
  • reject goods which remain faulty after a single repair is attempted, or chose to keep them and obtain a reduction on the purchase price 
  • request a repeat performance of the service 
  • reduce the price of the service to reflect the non-performance.

The Council said: “The new Consumer Rights Act offers more protection to consumers and it is important that they are aware of their rights which will help them to obtain the quality of goods and services they require.

“The council’s Public Protection service also provides support to local businesses to help them understand the implications of the Act and comply with the new legislation.”

For more advice on consumer rights or to find out more about the support which can be given to local businesses contact the Public Protection team on 01904 551525 or email public.protection@york.gov.uk

Further information about the act is also available for businesses at www.businesscompanion.info and consumers at www.citizensadvice.org.uk

York Road Oakhaven older persons home plans announced

Will be replaced with an “extra care” facility.
Oakhaven site plan - clckc to enlarge

Oakhaven site plan – click to enlarge

Following a public consultation exercise, the Council is being recommended to go ahead with the conversion of the Oakhaven care home site on York Road into an “extra care” facility.

The City is gearing up to meet an expected 50% increase in the number of residents who will be aged over 75 by 2030.

This forms part of the Council’s plan to provide, by the end of 2018, 525 new units of accommodation of which 343 will serve those with high care needs including dementia.  “225 out of date care beds will be replaced”.

Another home – Grove House on Penleys Grove Street – will also be closed. That site will be sold in order to finance the improvements at other facilities for the elderly.

A report, being considered on Thursday, acknowledges that most “extra care” facilities are located on the east of the Ouse. However it fails to recognise the demand for more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site.

Instead in a separate report the Council is being asked to develop such facilities at the Burnholme school site.

Report fails to recognise the demand to establish more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site

Report fails to recognise the need for more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site, which has been left empty and derelict by the Council for over 3 years.

On Lowfields the report says, “The use of the Lowfields site for specialist accommodation with care for older people has been the subject of previous procurement which concluded that such development was unaffordable. However, we continue to examine the use of this site to meet housing, health and care objectives”.

Which means officials have made no progress on marketing the site?

The Oakhaven replacement will provide only 50 of the 525 beds needed to satisfy demand in the City

 The papers reveal that the Council will not run the replacement facility at Oakhaven.

Instead it will seek a “partner” to fund, build and operate the extra care scheme. The Council is also relying on another private sector home being constructed at the Terry’s factory site (which received planning permission last week).

It will also sell off the Windsor House home in Ascot Way.

The consultation exercise concluded, “That 97% of questionnaire respondents agreed that bigger bedrooms, en-suite facilities, wider corridors and more social space should be key features of residential care homes. Bigger bedrooms give more social space for residents to entertain visitors, they can accommodate the resident’s own furniture and bigger rooms give staff more space in which to work and support residents, particularly where bed hoists need to be used”.

Work on the Oakhaven Extra care home is expected to start in early 2017 and may be available for occupation in May 2018.

Given the Council’s shambolic record on project management, we doubt if we will see any improvements much before the end of the decade.

Castle car park potholes filled in but major resurfacing still needed

Pothole filled in on Castle Car park

Pothole filled in on Castle Car park

Some of the potholes on the Castle car park have been filled in. The whole car park still needs resurfacing.
Graffiti gone from second set of flood gates on North Street

Graffiti gone from second set of flood gates on North Street

Graffiti removed from one set of flood gates on North Street (but not wall)
Graffiti on second set of flood gates on North Street

Graffiti on first set of flood gates on North Street

But graffiti still on other set of gates
Riverside walk Graffiti

Riverside Walk Graffiti

…..and on Hotel wall
Weeds still growing on Ouse Bridge

Weeds still growing on Ouse Bridge

Our longest outstanding issue remains the weed growth on Ouse Bridge. First reported (this year) on 27th August
Weeds still growing on Riverside Walk

Weeds still growing on Riverside Walk

and weeds continue to thrive on the banks of the Ouse

All issues have been reported using the “Fix My Street” website

More haste, less speed – New Council issue reporting system is flawed

The York Council has gone ahead and launched a replacement for the “report it” system which it abandoned 3 years ago. The older system had worked well for over 8 years but was, apparently, a victim of the move to West Offices.

click to access Council forms

click to access Council forms

A Smarter York “App” was introduced but it lacked the functionality and flexibility of the old system. It gradually fell into disuse.

About 2 years ago the Council promised a system based on individual “customer accounts” and this was to have been launched in the spring.

However nothing materialised.

Now the Council has rushed out a minimalist reporting system for neighbourhood reports. It is intended to cover issues like  street light faults, cleansing issues, footpath fouling, road/pavement defects, overgrown trees and problems with street furniture.

Unfortunately the system has not been properly tested with users and already a list of “bugs” has emerged.

These include:

  • The system does not have an “App” which would allow it to run on smart phones.
  • The system doesn’t provide a complainant with an Emailed (or any other copy) of the issue that they raised
  • There is no way of associating the issue number with a specific complaint
  • There is no publicly accessible record of issues raised. This facility was available on the Smarter York system and is fundamental to the “Fix My Street” system. Consequently the likelihood of duplicate reports increases.
  • The type of issue that can be reported is limited. Problems with defects on play equipment aren’t covered, for example.

These issues need to be resolved before the system is promoted by the Council. In the meantime, “Fix My Street” offers users much greater functionality and reassurance.

Seems to be a case of good intentions but poor delivery by the York Council on this one

 

 

 

Litter, footpaths, dog fouling, dumping & weeds top residents concerns

Thanks to those living in the Front Street and Hob Moor areas who have been returning the LibDem Focus “grumble” sheets.

So far the most complaints have been about:

  1. Litter
  2. Uneven footpaths
  3. Dog fouling
  4. Dumping
  5. Weeds/bushes obstructing paths

So pretty much basic public service standard issues.

This weekend we’ve moving on to look at services in the Cornlands Road and Askham Lane areas.

We’ve already been out and about this week checking on public service standards in the west of the City. Around 255 issues have been reported via “Fix My Street” including
Dogs have badly fouled the tithe Close snicket

Dogs have badly fouled the Tithe Close snicket

Weeds are still a problem on some footpaths

Weeds are still a problem on some footpaths

Grange Lane park play equipment still needs strimming

Grange Lane park play equipment still needs strimming

Swings damaged on Grange Lane aprk

Swings damaged on Grange Lane park

Full litter bin on Askham Lane reported by Cllr Sheena Jackson

Full litter bin on Askham Lane reported by Cllr Sheena Jackson

Drugs and housing – mixed messages

Two Councillors were using the media to tell the York Council what it should be doing last week. One was right, the other wrong.

Drugs

One commentator hit the nail of the head. She said that the scale of drug abuse problems in the city should be more generally understood.

She was right to do so.  drug-misuse_blackpool

While local police officers often conduct high profile drugs raids, the level of reports – for what some regard as a victim less crime – almost certainly disguises the real level of abuse.

Crime stats reveal that only 202 drug related crime reports were made in the City during the year ending in July. This was 2.8% of the total crimes reported.

This compares to 3510 reports of “anti social behaviour” during the same period.

Anecdotal evidence paints a different picture.

York’s public toilets are frequently misused by drug users who leave their paraphernalia lying around. This poses a threat to other users and to cleaning staff.

So more candour about drug related issues is needed.

Newbury Avenue

A snide contribution from a Heworth Ward Councillor claimed that the development of flats on the Newbury Avenue garage site should go ahead immediately.

Cars parked on grassed amenity area in Windsor Garth

Cars parked on grassed amenity area in Windsor Garth

She clearly had little knowledge of the scale of problems already evident in the area mainly as a result of the late running development of the Our Lady’s school site.

Acute parking problems and traffic issues have been exacerbated by the development while road surfaces – and in particular the speed tables – have been badly damaged.

Some residents are now resorting to parking on grassed amenity areas (see photo right) while the Council still refuses to release much needed estate improvement funding  to the area “because to doesn’t have a residents association”.

The Council is right to pause any additional building work in the area at least until it sorts out existing issues with public services.

So how good are street level public services in York?

Well you’ll not find out from looking at the stats presented to the Council’s Executive committee

Graffiti 2nd September

Graffiti 2nd September

Those reported on 27th August contain performance measures for only a minority of street level services.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Many residents would expect that the volume of issues raised on each of the core activity areas of the Local Authority (see left) would be routinely reported to the Councils Executive together with stats showing the speed of response, the results of quality checks and customer satisfaction measures.

In August performance states were only provide for:

    • Graffiti removal where the Council claimed to have dealt with issues “in less than 3 days” (quicker for obscene graffiti)
Graffiti 26th September

Graffiti 26th September

  • % of roads in poor condition (No results since 2013/14)
  • YCC % telephone calls answered in 20 secs  (45%)

Even in these cases the validity of the claimed performance must be open to doubt.

We reported graffiti on the flood gates on North Street on 2nd September.

25 days later it was still there.

We had similar problems when reporting broken glass in School Street and nettles overhanging a footpath in Bellhouse Way

Residents can report issues using “Fix My Street” they can record progress made in remedying issues on an interactive map (click here)