Acomb Moor footpath problems continue

Its over 4 months since Councillors told residents that a blocked Public Right of Way (PROW) would be reopened . The access to Acomb Moor from Foxwood Lane had been via a stile for over 20 years.

It gradually fell into disrepair and the Council declined to stabilise it.

An application to define the route as a PROW was submitted in late 2018 and supported by the Council some 12 months later.

Shortly afterwards the tenant farmer blocked the access with a large tree trunk. He went on to plant crops in the field (for the first time in over 25 years).

Local residents agreed to use a footpath route which skirted around the outside of the field and this has become a well established exercise route during the lockdown period.

Unfortunately an assurance from local Councillors – that the tree trunk would be moved to allow for single file pedestrian access – was not fulfilled. As a result an new access point has now been forced near the Askham Lane junction.

Of more concern, many walkers are now trying to climb a 5 bar metal gate. A potentially hazardous activity for the elderly and infirm.

There are other points on the route which have also fallen into a, potentially hazardous, state of disrepair.

There are easy and relatively cheap solutions to this problem. The Lockdown period has simply reinforced the importance of informal walking routes near the City.

The Council should act now to make these footpaths accessible and safe.

York Council to cut 20% from highway maintenance

A response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Council intends to spend 20% less on repairing roads and footpaths in the City during 2021/22 compared to the current year.

The decision will come as a disappointment to many drivers and pedestrians and will be a particular blow for cyclists, many of whom have criticised the rapidly declining quality of local highway surfaces.

Highway maintenance is one of the expenditure areas in the Council where essentially you get what you pay for. So less money inevitably means that fewer paths and carriageways will be resurfaced.

The Council will announce shortly what proportion of the budget it will spend on reactive pothole filling rather than, longer lasting, patching and resurfacing schemes.

Sources at the Council have criticised inconsistent central government funding allocations – such as the annual so called “pot hole” fund – which make long term investment planning difficult. A late announcement of funding for the resurfacing of Tadcaster Road came only weeks after the work had been completed using local taxpayers money (and is now being done again).

However, there will also be concern that some money has been taken from the maintenance budget to fund other projects. Several new schemes, such as rural cycle routes, are sucking funds from the budgets needed to repair existing cycle paths..

The Council has never recovered from the major reductions made to highways funding some 8 years ago.

Successive administrations have failed to find ways of returning investment levels to those seen earlier in the century.

It is estimated that the backlog in maintenance work nationally would require investment of around £11 billion to rectify.

Litter shame on A64

The pile of litter continue to grow next to a layby near Tadcaster. Problems on the A64 were reported several weeks ago but without any lasting improvement.

Deliberate fly tipping has now added to the woes.

Its a real shame that people don’t take their litter home with them and that enforcement action is rarely effective.

It is a shame as this is the first sight that some visitors will get as they approach York.

Elsewhere we have re-reported two fly tipping and leaf detritus issues in the little Green Lane area.

Graffiti on utility boxes in Windsor Garth has been reported.

Reports are coming in that 8 trees, planted by volunteers in Dickson Park during the summer, have been vandalised. The incident is being investigated by the local residents association.

Council to approve handover of facilities to local communities

Members of City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to approve proposals to lease a number of public open spaces and buildings to various local community groups and organisations at a meeting later this month (18 March).

See the source image
Chapmans Pond, Moor Lane, Proposals

If agreed, the plans, a part of the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Policy, will enable local communities to manage facilities, which will remain in the council’s ownership.

The Executive will be asked to consider the asset transfer of 10 venues or sites across the city, including community facilities, wildlife and open spaces, a park pavilion and a pond.

Amongst these is the plan to lease Rowntree Park Pavillion to Rowntree Park Sports Association, which would see the pavilion access grants to fund flood resilience and refurbishment work to create additional storage space for the park’s tennis and canoe clubs, and social space for community use.

The Poppleton Centre – a community hall, bowling green and tennis courts – could be leased to Poppleton Community Trust at a peppercorn rent for 99 years, enabling them to similarly apply for national grants and funding sources, if approved.

The proposals would also see local residents in the Rufforth and Knapton areas gain access to new allotments, if a part of a field adjacent to the B1224 is leased to the parish council.  The new provision would replace the community’s former allotments, which were reclaimed by the owners of the land at the end of 2018, following a long lease to the local authority.

Another asset being considered for lease is the new community facilities at Marjorie Waite Court, which is due for completion in July and will feature a large community hall, a full commercial kitchen and a communal dining area.

Members will be asked to approve plans to find an operator to run the community facilities, with a focus on reinvesting profits to support wider social outcomes for the local community.  

A full list of the sites

  • Mayfields North
  • Mayfields South
  • Clifton Without land (near Cricket ground)
  • Rowntree Pavilion
  • Rowntree Park Tennis Courts
  • Land at Wetherby Road, Rufforth
  • The catering, communal dining and community hall facilities at Marjorie Waite Court
  • The Poppleton Centre, Moor Lane/Ousemoor Road, Upper Poppleton
  • The upper floors of Rowntree Lodge,

Local services under threat in Acomb

Sainsbury’s

Speculation is mounting about the future of the Sainsbury’s Local store on Beckfield Lane. Sources suggest that it may close towards the end of the summer.

The rumours have been reinforced by the recent decision by the company to close its Argos stores, make redundancies at its head office and close 10 large supermarkets and 110 local branches

Sainsbury’s has performed well during the pandemic recording an increase in sales of 8.5% last year.

The Supermarket was rebuffed by regulators in an attempt to merge with Asda 2 years ago.

Sainsbury’s operates 10 stores in York. The Beckfield Lane store is their only outlet in Acomb. The next nearest Sainsbury’s Local is in Blossom Street.

Lloyds Bank closing this week

Lloyds Bank confirmed recently that it would close its Front Street branch  on 11th March (Thursday).

 It was still attracting a steady stream of customers this morning.

Details of the closure and other options for customers can be found by clicking these links

Closure part one

Closure part two

Anger as York Council plans to reduce expenditure on fixing potholes

Hopes were raised last year when the York Council established a second pothole filling team in the City. It was hoped that the initiative would at least slow the rapidly deteriorating condition of highways in the City.

Expectations were further raised when the Department of Transport allocated part of its “Pothole challenge fund to the City.

Sadly, the hoped-for improvements have not materialised.

Many highways are breaking up under the impact of ice and frost. A well-maintained surface is less vulnerable to frost damage but lack of urgency in patching roads in the summer and autumn, means that large stretches are now unsafe for users.

The Council has been criticised this week for failing to embrace new maintenance technologies.

Now hidden within a large report, being considered by the Council later this week, is a proposal which would see less spent on resurfacing.

£600,000 will be taken from pothole filling/resurfacing and instead used to partly fund new schemes like the cycle path link from Wheldrake to Fulford.

Even the most extreme pro cycling campaigners are now realising that maintaining existing paths should be the Councils priority when funds are limited.

The existing cycle and highway networks are in poor condition. Why not fix them first before building more paths?

Sadly, one of the reasons seems to be that highway resurfacing activity is not very glamourous.

There will be no official naming of the pothole that Andy filled in.

On the other hand, a new path may – for a while – attract favourable publicity for its sponsors, at least until it too needs to be resurfaced.

Separately, the same report says that

  • the second resurfacing of Tadcaster Road is being delayed until the summer. Gas main works are currently taking place there.
  • promised repairs on National Cycle Network 65 will now not be completed until 2021/22.
  • £877,000, which was to have been spent this year on Highways Ward Committees schemes, will also be delayed until next year.

Weather likely to add to repairs backlog

Looks like we are in for another period of icy weather. It will make repairs to leisure and other paths even more important.

Many off road paths are now very muddy, reducing the choices available for those seeking their daily exercise.

Some sports facilities are also looking neglected and will be needed when lockdown ends.

There will be a a lot of work to do this summer.

Real time bus information reaches suburbs

Pleased to see that information screens, which indicate when the next bus will arrive, have finally reached Westfield.

They are common in other parts of the City

A screen has recently been installed at a stop on Tudor Road.

We hope that the programme will soon extend to cover busy stops like the ones on Green Lane and Foxwood Lane.

Still its some progress at a time when public transport services are facing huge pressures as a result of the pandemic

York Council set to scrap crime prevention fund

Image result for crime prevention gifs

The City’s £250,000 “Safer Communities Fund” is set to be scrapped.

The crime busting scheme was one of the first initiatives announced by the new LibDem/Green administration in July 2019.

Use of ward budgets for “target hardening” works over the last 2 decades had been a popular choice by local residents.

Stronger fencing, ,CCTV cameras, more robust street furniture, anti climb paint, snicket/alley closures, improved lighting and many other improvements had been funded from this source.

A report last year explained the purpose of the new Fund.

As part of the council’s Supplementary Budget Proposals agreed on
17 July Council, £250k was awarded to wards as a “Safer
Communities Fund”. The allocation of this funding, in proportion to
population in the normal way, is shown in Annex 1.

Building on the success of the Community Care fund it is proposed that the Safer Communities Fund is operated in a similar way in that it is added into ward revenue funds so that it can be used flexibly by wards on any projects that meet residents’ priorities in terms of creating safer communities.

It is suggested that the planned impact of the spend should be set out in advance and the subsequent outcomes evaluation (see para 25 below concerning evaluation).

Evaluation could be developed in partnership with the Community Safety Team who would also be able to provide evidence-based examples of good practice so that we are able to encourage community groups to put forward good proposals within a flexible budget regime which is operated in line with policies and procedures for ward funding.

PCSOs could also be consulted as part of the ward team as they will
be able to bring useful views to the table and this will provide an
excellent opportunity to strengthen ties between wards and the police.

While it is fair to say that the new scheme has remained something of a enigma to most residents, concerns about crime levels generally – and anti social behavior in particular – remain a high in several neighbourhoods.

In recent years, the Councils attempt to delegate spending power to local communities has been flawed.

A £1 million ward highways budget was divided between equally highways improvements and walking cycling schemes. The latter was spent almost entirely on projects in the south east part of the City.

A year later it is difficult to identify any roads or paths that have benefited. This may partly be because the Council fails to maintain a list of schemes on its web site with appropriate progress reports.

There is a stronger sense of local community in the wake of the pandemic.

People do want to be involved in decision making.

But the current processes used by the Council fail to fully engage people.

Perhaps the increased use of social media seen during the Lockdowns offers a clue as to how engagement levels can be raised in the future.

In the meantime, the Council must explain how it will improve the level of support that it offers to those policing our streets.