York Council to water down petitions action – “smile you’re on……”

The Council is being asked to abandon the right citizens currently have to hold highly paid officials to account.

A proposal to the “Audit Committee” says that senior officials should not in future have to attend a meeting to answers questions raised about their management responsibilities.

York residents petition

York residents petition

The existing petitions scheme (agreed in 2010) contains the following clause:

If your petition contains at least 500 signatures, you may ask for a senior council officer to give evidence at a public meeting about something for which the officer is responsible as part of their job. For example, your petition may ask a senior council officer to explain progress on an issue, or to explain the advice given to elected members to enable them to make a particular decision. The following senior staff can be called to account:
• Chief Executive
• Chief Finance Officer
• Monitoring Officer
• Directors of Service

A report, drafted by the Council’s monitoring officer, suggests abandoning this right.

Cabinet members also escape any requirement to explain their actions to taxpayers.

There are currently 5 live petitions running on the Councils web site.

The last Council meeting discussed a record number of petitions (7) submitted by residents and which had passed the 1000 signature threshold which guaranteed a discussion at a full Council meeting.. Most concerned the controversial aspects of Labour draft Local Plan.


The same meeting – which is taking place next Wednesday -is set to approve a “protocol” for web casting of Cabinet and Council meetings.

Sadly the report makes no reference to the costs of such a proposal nor does it indicate how many “viewers” the trial broadcasts have attracted (understood to be derisory)

Cabinet agenda WebCam

The key issue is whether a casual viewer would be able to follow what was actually taking place at a Council meeting. Even those sitting in the public gallery, with an agenda in front of them, some times struggle to work out what is going on.

The Council need to further develop the information that can be provided possibly using a split screen format. It is just possible that, if residents could see the relevant agenda item papers, together with the way that individual Councillors vote on each issue, more interest might be generated.

The trial web casting of “Cabinet” meetings has attracted very little interest. The meeting consist only of a dull procession of uninspired speeches from Labour Councillors. (It is a one party meeting).

A Council meeting offers more opportunity for debate on important issues but it will require much better organisation than has been evident on York Council governance issues over recent months.

Acomb is coming alive in run up to Christmas

Acomb Front Street is getting into the Christmas spirit with twenty five Christmas tree brackets for small trees above shop fronts being put into place as part of a wider package of investment by City of York Council.

£30,000 is being invested to support businesses in Acomb and to help act as a catalyst for community-led economic development in the area.

Acomb Alive

The move was stimulated by the formation of the “Acomb Alive” group last year.

The York Council had been heavily criticised by traders and local residents when it abandoned its Acomb Office base in 2012 and subsequently slashed the funds available for Ward Committees to invest in the area.

The investment will see £24,000 investment on Front Street to install electricity points, repair and replace flower tubs, remove damaged and unneeded street furniture as well as new signage and seating.

The remaining £6,000 has been granted to kick-start an events programme to encourage footfall to the shopping area and to hep bring a flavour of the city centre to the important local shopping area.

Residents action group founded in Green Lane Acomb

Blocked gutters in Harold Court

Blocked gutters in Harold Court

Hedge blocking footpath - Lowfields

Hedge blocking footpath – Lowfields

Overgrown garage area

Overgrown garage area

Potholes in Acomb  car park

Potholes in Acomb car park

Dumping back Beaconsfield Street

Dumping back Beaconsfield Street



Residents living in the Green Lane and Lowfields part of Acomb are forming an action group aimed at getting improvements to public service standards in the area.

The move follow what many residents see as a decline in standards with litter, weed growth, graffiti, potholes and dumping amongst key concerns.

The intention is to have a resident in each street who will promptly report issues to the responsible public authority.

During the winter the group will aim to identify any elderly or disabled residents who are suffering as a result of the Councils decision to reduce footpath de-icing services in the area. They will also be on the lookout for faulty street lights.

In the longer term the Group hopes to persuade the Council to resurface the back lanes in the area.

Residents with issues that they would like to be addressed can contact the group via the following Email address: acombactiongroup@outlook.com

Double standards hit Acomb bus passengers.

Acomb Front Street information terminal. Out of order for over 2 years

Acomb Front Street information terminal. Out of order for over 2 years

As the Council starts its project to spend £500,000 on a city centre bus rank, residents of Acomb can be forgiven for thinking that they are the poor relations.

It is now 2 years since the public transport information point on Front Street ceased working.

The Council promise Rougier Street bus stop users “use of lighting and public art to make the facilities generally more attractive, and a better place to spend time waiting for a bus”

Meanwhile Acomb passengers must wait in the rain with no “next bus” displays.

The Council has said that it won’t even “grit” most of the number 24 bus route in winter.

The Council should either bring the information screen back into use or remove it.

It serves only as a memorial to the double standards of a Labour Council which has got its priorities so badly wrong.

Small business rate relief goes begging in York?

The York Council has published a list of all commercial properties which qualify for a reduction in their rates payable under the Small Business Rates Relief scheme who, as of 20th September 2013, were not receiving Small Business Rates Relief and where the properties rateable value was under £12,000.

small bus

The full list can be seen by clicking here.

The government’s guidance on small business rate relief says,

“You can get small business rate relief if:

• you only use one property

• its rateable value is less than £12,000

Until 31 March 2014 you’ll get 100% relief (doubled from the usual rate of 50%) for properties with a rateable value of £6,000 or less. This means you won’t pay business rates on properties with a rateable value of £6,000 or less.

The rate of relief will gradually decrease from 100% to 0% for properties with a rateable value between £6,001 and £12,000.

If you have more than one property. You could get small business rate relief if the rateable value of each of your other properties is less than £2,600. The rateable values of the properties are added together and the relief applied to the main property”.

The York Council’s advice and application forms can be found here.

However the web page appears to need updating.

The Council have not commented on whether they proactively contact small businesses which may qualify for the relief.

We believe, against a background of failing retail businesses particularly in suburban locations – that the Council, should do more to help.

Small Changes, Big Savings – Acomb Explore money event on Monday 14th October,

People across York are being invited to boost their financial know-how in a series of events designed to help people make savings, get more out of the internet and make the banks work better for them.

A series of seven Small Changes, Big Savings sessions are being held at different venues across the city during York’s Housing Week, from 14-18 October, which is looking at ways to overcome poverty.

The ‘Small Changes, Big Savings’ events held across the city will be at:

• •Acomb Explore on Monday 14 October, 9:30-11:30am

•Bell Farm Social Hall on Tuesday 15 October, 10am-12 noon when we’ll be launching our anti loan shark charter

• •Clements Hall on 15 October 1:30-3:30pm;

• •Sanderson Court on Wednesday 16 October, 9:30-11:30am

• •Foxwood Community Centre on Thursday 17 October, 9:30-11am

• •Tang Hall on 17 October, 2-4pm

• •Burton Stone Community Centre, on Friday 18 October, 1-3pm.


Another Harewood Whin odour warning for Acomb- Residents alerted about landfill works

PEOPLE living in the vicinity of a landfill site near York are being alerted they may experience a temporary odour in the air as work begins to restore another section of the site

The warning from operator Yorwaste comes a year after similar odour problems were reported by resident living in the Wetherby Road area.

Harewood Whin

In a media release the company says, “Yorwaste is currently undertaking work to restore a large area of completed landfill in the central part of their Harewood Whin site. This involves sealing the exposed waste with clay to control leachate generation and prevent landfill gas emissions.

The work can create disturbance, hence why the company is keen to alert residents in advance.

As part of this process new pipes have to be installed to collect the gas that is produced by waste in the landfill and it is at this stage that people living nearby may notice a slight and occasional odour.

Yorwaste says it is working as quickly but safely as possible to carry out this work, which will take place at various periods in October, and that the installation of the gas pipes should be completed by the end of November.

Steve Grieve, Managing Director of Yorwaste, said:

“We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this work may cause to people living near Harewood Whin but it is important to stress that this work is essential and is necessary to avoid a repeat of last winter’s problems.

“As waste breaks down in a landfill it starts to produce a methane gas. This gas can be captured and converted into green electricity which is then exported directly to the national grid, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

“The planning and implementation of this work has been done in consultation with our regulator, the Environment Agency, and whilst there may be some short-term inconvenience, they are outweighed by the longer term environmental benefits.”

Street level public service standards – plea to York Council next Thursday.

The York Council at a meeting next week will be asked to jettison its prestige expenditure plans and return to a more sensible economic policy.

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

Weeds need strimming at end of Ridgeway

A motion being put forward by the Liberal Democrats condemns deteriorating roads, footpaths and increasing litter as well as plans to reduce de icing services in winter.

It says that Labour’s decision to scrap the “York Pride” maintenance programmes means that many areas are now strewn with weeds and detritus.

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Carriageway failed in Vesper Drive

Recent rain highlighted the impact that Labours decision to end the routine cleaning of gullies (road drains) is already having.

Meanwhile a rather disingenuous motion from Labour Cllr Burton, seeks to justify the bill for York staging the start of just one Tour de France stage.

The cost to taxpayers is already in excess of £1.5 million and rising.

The Labour backed motion says that any income to the Council from the event should be allocate to improve basic service standards.

It fails however to say that the income from a few hot dog stands is unlikely to make much difference.

The cost of the repairs back log on the City’s roads and footpaths alone now stands at over £20 million.

The Liberal Democrat motion reads

Yorkshire and The Humber – Euro election candidates

The lists of candidates selected by the various parties to contest the Euro elections in Yorkshire next May have become clearer.

The Euro elections are unique in the UK being the only occasion when voters express a preference for a political party rather than a named candidate.

Seats are allocated proportionately to the parties “list” of names.

The list order is selected by party members.

Pretty much no candidate, outside of the first three on the party list, has any real chance of being elected, although, in the event of a vacancy occurring part way through a 4 year term of office, the next highest placed candidate on the list can take over (if they are still available).


Edward McMillan-Scott MEP

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP

The LibDems have the stand out candidate in Edward McMillan-Scott who has a wealth of experience and a record of hard work both inside and outside the parliament.

1. Edward McMillan-Scott
2. James Monaghan
3. Joe Otten
4. Chris Foote-Wood
5. Jacqueline Bell
6. TBA


Labour have reselected their retiring MEP and placed a former MEP at second place on their list.

York Councillor Tracey Simpson Laing despite a high profile announcement of her Euro credentials in April appears to have troubled the scorers rather less than a lower order Australian batman.

1. MCAVAN, Linda
2. CORBETT, Richard

3. TUNNICLIFFE , Eleanor
4. KHAN, Asghar
6. HUGHES , Darren


The Conservatives have put their retiring MEP at the top of their list

1. Timothy Kirkhope MEP
2. Alex Story

3. John Procter
4. Carolyn Abbott
5. Michael Naughton
6. TBA