First day of spring and some good news

The first day of spring sees some daffodils blooming on Askham Lane. The Council has cut back the hedge to allow improved visibility from the bus shelter. That’s good progress after the problems that there have been in recent years.

A little further long Askham Lane, near the flats, we understand that the Council may start to install, the much delayed, parking lay-by in the next few days. If true, it is another piece of good news following years of frustration with parking problems.

LiveWellYork web site to launch

Community groups and residents are invited to celebrate the launch of www.livewellyork.co.uk, a city-wide source of high-quality information and advice, at venues around the city on Thursday 14 March.

The Live Well York website promotes opportunities for residents to enjoy healthy, active and independent lives and supports our commitment to early help and prevention, and to help people live independently and well.

Having been in development for a year, Live Well York is being used by over 1,000 people every month and is now launching formally. It offers residents:

  • some 800 community activities
  • an events calendar with around 70 events posted each month
  • over 100 volunteering opportunities
  • a Service and Products directory with over 80 services listed
  • 750 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5.

Developed by a partnership of City of York Council, York CVS, Explore York, Age UK York, Healthwatch York and Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, the website offers links to good quality information and advice on topics from travel, housing, caring, money and legal matters.

To prevent information being duplicated, the website navigates people to other sites such as Healthwatch York’s Mental Health directory, the Young Person’s Survival Guide, a map of the council’s community hubs and AccessAble’s accessibility information.

Future and further improvements to Live Well York include:

  • a sports and active leisure directory
  • improved accessibility with Easy Read pages
  • training and work experience opportunities
  • including information for care homes on how to set up activities
  • growing the number of partners to ensure a joined-up approach to providing good quality information and advice.

Find out more about what the website can offer you, or how you can contribute to it at  https://www.livewellyork.co.uk/

York Council budget should deliver improved road surfaces

The York Council budget agreed last night promises to deliver a major increase its highway resurfacing funding. Most of the funding is earmarked for neighbourhood wide resurfacing programmes.

It remains to be seen in which part of the City this programme will begin.

However, since the Council dramatically cut its maintenance budget 7 years ago, potholes have been on the increase and it will take many years to “catch up” and restore acceptable standards.

Maybe they have a better way of doing things in other countries?

Click

https://youtu.be/sIDGSmv5BJs

 

 

York’s accessibility information in the palm of your hand.

National disability organisation, AccessAble is launching a free app to give visitors and residents of York high-quality accessibility information they can access whilst out and about.

Long-term partner of City of York Council and provider of detailed access guides, AccessAble have created a new mobile app which aims to transform the quality and availability of accessibility information.

The app provides detailed access guides to 10,000s of places across the UK and Ireland. Crucially each guide is created by locations having been visited by an AccessAble surveyor and local people with accessibility requirements, who can collect over 1,000 pieces of information for just one venue.

The app itself can display facts, figures and photographs as well as step-by-step descriptions of what accessibility is like at a particular location. Users can create their own account and save favourite places and filter their preferences depending on their accessibility needs.

Find out more at www.AccessAble.co.uk
(more…)

Council contracts and the Library service

Lots of new entries on the public contracts register for the city of York Council (https://procontract.due-north.com/ContractsRegister/Index)  but nothing for local Libraries other than repairs.

Register of York Council contracts 19th Feb 2019

The Council has, however, issued a media release saying that a new 15 year, £32 million value, contract has been awarded to the existing Library Service provider . That would be good news but still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

Not least will be the reliance to be placed on “volunteers” helping to provide the service.

It appears that only two tenders were received to run the service. The other is believed to have been from GLL who currently run the Councils sports facilities.

The Council’s media release says,

The new contract, which will commence on the 1st April 2019, will ensure that the city’s existing libraries can remain open over the next 15 years, in line with the agreed vision.

The announcement follows a procurement process to decide which organisation would be best placed to deliver the city’s vision for its 14 libraries and world renowned archives service.

At a previous meeting, the Council’s Executive agreed to provide an additional £300,000 to support the new £32 million library services contract.  The additional funding follows feedback from both bidders involved in the procurement process, and will ensure that all the city’s existing libraries can remain open over the next 15 years of the contract. Full Council will be asked to agree the additional funding at a meeting later this month (28 February).

Plans for the future of the library and archive service in York were shaped by the results of a citywide consultation in 2017/18.

Key proposals for the future service include:

  • York Explore Library to continue as the flagship service centre, including the archives and local history centre
  • Explore Gateways offered at a variety of venues, preferably with cafe facilities, and co-located with other community activities where possible, with local communities invited to be involved in their operation.
  • Virtual libraries providing a 24/7 online service, involving e books and e magazines, with virtual spaces for people to share ideas.
  • Providing reading cafes, encouraging the joy of reading especially for those who may feel uncomfortable in a more traditional library.

York Council claims over 50% of complaints answered within 5 days

…we don’t think so!

The Council has published its latest financial and performance update. It reveals that it could overspend this year’s budget by as much as £1.5 million. The expectation is that the Council will outturn on target.

A major source of complaint is paradoxically complaint handing. The Council claims to have answered “50% of complaints within 5 working days”.

Maybe!

….but we have a current instance of a complaint registered on 27th December 2018 which hasn’t even been acknowledged yet. The Council needs to improve its exception reporting systems and inject some fresh drive into its customer relationship processes.

Another key concern is the impact that the Council is having on delayed discharges (bed blocking) at the hospital. “The total number of days that patients resident in York have been delayed, for all reasons, during the last twelve months for which statistics have been published (November 17 – October 18) was 10,655 which equates to, on average, 29 beds each day occupied because of DToC across the health and social care system. From August to October 2018, this figure was 2,967 days which equates to 32 beds each day”. The Council says that the closure of two large nursing homes in the city has impacted on the ability of Adult Social Care to place patients quickly, as well as considerable pressures in both the residential and homecare markets.

The future of the Greenworks section of Yorkcraft has also never been properly explained. The Council is reducing the budget by a further £160,000 for adult social care workers, in supported employment, during the next financial year. So the future looks bleak for some of the workers who are a familiar sight as they deliver newsletters to various parts of the City.

Following the decision by the Council to suspend its housing modernisation programme the number of Council homes not meeting the decency standard has soared to 546.

It was zero two years ago

Lincoln Court and the MUGA – Sport England acts

Kingsway MUGA

Sport England have issued a formal objection to the Council’s latest plans for the Lincoln Court area. As a statutory consultee they can veto any proposals which involve the loss of sports facilities. In this case, the Councils plan to demolish the adjacent Multi User Games Area (MUGA) – without providing a replacement – has triggered the objection.

Sport England had expressed concerns about Councils plans prior to the Planning Committee meeting which took place in December. Their comments at that time were ignored by Councillors.

If the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the objection, then the planning application will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination.

Sport England make it clear, in their representation, that they believe an alternative games facility can be provided nearby. Residents have suggested the new school playing fields or the Thanet Road sports area as possible locations.

Several of the flats at Lincoln Court are now empty.

There is a growing concern that the building, and the adjacent Windsor House, may be empty for an extended period.

Similar Council owned buildings have been left to rot in recent years (Guildhall, Ashbank, Oakhaven, Castlegate, etc.) suggesting that the Councils property management processes need to be overhauled.

In the meantime the planning application remains open for residents to record any objections that they may have.  Email planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref 19/00083/FULM