York Council takes action to ease debt risk for poorer families

The York Council has agreed to pay some of the fees involved in setting up and running a budget bank account at the Credit Union shop at 8 Acomb Court off York Road (tel.03030 300010) .

Details of budget and other accounts available at the branch can be found on the SYCC web site

The Council is taking the action to encourage those reliant on the Universal Credits benefit package to budget to avoid debts. Univeral Credit is paid in arrears and can be difficult to manage.

report to a recent meeting says,

“A recent article on the Association of Retained Council Housing site indicated that:

  • 86% of universal credit (UC) claimants living in council owned homes are in rent arrears (compared to 79% at March 2016).
  • 59% of universal credit claimants living in council owned homes have arrears that equate to more than one month’s rent.
  • Although 63% of UC tenants in arrears had pre-existing arrears before their UC claim only 44% of them are on APAs (alternative payment arrangements with direct payment from DWP)
  • The average value of arrears tenants owed across UC households has almost doubled to £615 since 31 March 2016 when average amount was £321.

A research article expressed concern about rent arrears.

“Not only are numbers of households increasing as UC is rolled out, but the percentage of households falling into rent arrears and experiencing financial difficulty is critically high.

If this trend is not reversed it will have significant impact on local authorities’ rental income streams and the long term ability for housing departments to provide essential services to their communities.

Use of the SYCU budget account and related services by customers could be one way of helping them manage their money effectively, prevent debt and help manage debt where this is accrued”.

Council officials will now help to promote the budget account to qualifying residents.


York street cleansing review next week

The York Council is due to review the success of its new street sweeping schedules at a meeting next week.

The schedules were introduced 6 months ago. They rationalised existing routes with the Council claiming that operatives would spend longer in each street but would, in some cases, visit less frequently.

The Council report claims that the number of reports (706) about cleanliness standards were similar during the 6 months of the trial compared to the 704 in the equivalent previous period.

Lack of litter bin at bus stop on Askham Lane

Various issues were raised with the Council by residents. Not least was confusion about which areas would be swept with some snickets and Council garage areas apparently omitted from the routine visit schedule.

Several before and after photographs are included with the report (above).

Our observation is that, where cul de sacs have had a thorough clean, the standards achieved have been higher. Investment in new machinery appears to have been effective.

Litter accumulation on Grange Lane snicket

However some areas continue to be a problem with tree detritus and litter drift a continuing issue

Residents in Westfield have expressed mixed views on the new schedules.

In Chapelfields 62% of respondents to our survey have rated the street cleaning service as “satisfactory”. 23% said it was “poor” and 15%  rated it as “good”

In a separate Focus survey, asked whether there was “less litter on local streets since the new cleaning rounds were introduced a couple of months ago“, 50% said there wasn’t.

There is better news on the response by the Council to litter complaints.

Those reported, via the improved on line service, usually generate a speedy response.

Complainants are also now told when an issue has been remedied.

A big step forward


Big contracts awarded by York Council

£77,000 for Coppergate camera enforcement

The York Council has let some substantial contracts recently. One of the most controversial is likely to be to  Bramble.cc Ltd for “Parking Services back-office system monitoring of cameras and issuing of notices” for the Coppergate bus lane The companies had office is on the Embankment in London. The size of the contract – which is for one year only – suggests that fine income would have  to rise considerably if taxpayers are to avoid an unexpected bill.

Less controversial may be the award of a contract for the collection of recycling materials in the City centre. The 5 year contract is valued at £1/2 million, runs for 5 years and has been awarded to the Friends of St Nicholas Field.

£60,671 will be spent on caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and £362,263 refurbishing Sycamore House mental health centre,

Other recent contract awards have included:

Ranger Hut, Hull Road Vine House Construction Ltd £24,057.41
Haxby Library Demolition MGL Demolition Ltd £48,000.00
Provision of supported care for UASC Sash £60,671.00
Sycamore House Refurbishment F Parkinson Ltd £362,263.00
School Crossing Patrol Signals Tender Dynniq UK Ltd £77,394.80
Structural and visual assessments of City of York Councils Street lighting assets MPH Inspection Services Ltd £150,000.00
Support for Street lighting fault repairs (MEWP) Bouygues UK Limited £30,000.00
ReSurfacing Schemes February 2017 CEMEX UK Operations Ltd £266,011.01
Analysis Software and Licence for Non-Domestic Rates Inform CPI Ltd £45,000.00
Provision of on-line lessons from a virtual school to provide teaching for young people out of school Nisai Virtual Academy Ltd. £10,000.00
ReSurfacing Schemes March 2017 – Tender2 Cemex UK Materials Ltd £78,464.20
Carr Junior School Reroof Works – Phase 2 S Voase Builders Limited £103,376.88
Community Protection APP Support, Maintenance and Licence Multiple award (2) £35,204.00
Westfield Primary School Roofing Watershed (Roofing) Ltd £14,058.00
Lift Repairs Maintenance Contract Northern Elevator Ltd £94,788.00
Support and Subscription for VMWare Phoenix Software Ltd £8,865.00
ICT NetApp Support Softcat plc £8,620.00
Google Maps API for Business Multiple award (2) £15,500.00
WYTF Outer Ring Road upgrade – Land Surveyor Services for the North York Outer Ring Road Junction Upgrade Project Valuation Office Agency – District Valuer £83,280.00
Citrix XenApp Software and Licences Insight Direct (UK) Ltd £53,975.00
Marjorie Waite Court Extra Care Extension – Designer Shuttleworth Picknett and Associates LLP £70,860.00
Contract to supply manpower + vehicle & including tools and equipment to carry out basic maintenance operations (minor civils works) 1st April 2017 – 31st July 2017 Multiple award (3) £50,000.00
Pre Purchase Agreement CYCProcurement £4,178,975.32
York City Centre Recycling Collection Service Friends of St Nicholas Fields £500,000.00
Fujitsu M10-1 Server Esteem Systems Plc £21,674.00
Point of Care Testing (POCT) Alere Limited £90,000.00
Trading Standards Interlink  City of York Council  £3,909.25
Coppergate: Bus Lane Enforcement parking services system Bramble.cc Limited £77,000.00
HGV Driver Certificate of Professional Competence Training Multiple award (2) £16,660.00

Most of the recent contract awards are dwarfed by those let in earlier years. The most valuable awards on the contracts register are:

Childcare Voucher Salary Sacrifice Scheme Fideliti Limited 01/04/2014 £2,400,000.00
Short Breaks Service For Adults with a Learning Disability Lifeways Community Care £2,001,990.34
York Central Financial and Commercial Consultancy KPMG LLP 01/07/2016 £2,000,000.00
Older People’s Community Support Service Age Uk York 20/12/2016 £1,765,000.00
Provision of Marketing, tourism and Business Development services Make it York Ltd 02/04/2015 £1,700,000.00
ENProcure Re-Allies Materials Framework – Distribution and supply of plumbing and heating materials Lot 2 PTS Plumbing Trade Supplies 01/04/2016 £1,614,282.00
Management & Maintenance of Public Toilets Healthmatic Ltd 01/05/2014 £1,600,000.00
An Advocacy Hub York Mind 14/10/2016 £1,500,000.00
Building Services Subcontractors – Package 1 Multiple award (5) 01/11/2016 £1,400,000.00
Provision of Local Registered Bus Services Yorkshire Coastliner Ltd 06/01/2013 £1,400,000.00

The Contracts register (most Councils) can be viewed by clicking here


Great British spring clean starts today – Appeal for information

Several groups in York are participating in the Great British Spring Clean this weekend.

These include residents in the Foxwood, Cornlands, Front Street and Dringhouses areas.

Foxwood residents already have already collected their sacks and litter pickers and will be meeting at the Community Centre on Bellhouse Way at 11:00am tomorrow (Saturday). The more volunteers that turn up the better the neighbourhood should look a couple of hours later.

Those who can’t make a pre-organised time are asked to consider tidying up the area immediately outside their own homes

The national organisers of the initiative – Keep Britain Tidy – have issued the following appeal

When residents take part in your Great British Spring Clean event this weekend, you can also get involved in a nationwide survey and tell us about the types of litter you find.

Simply download the Keep Britain Tidy app from the Apple or Google app store:

– Open the app and find your event on the interactive map

– Click on your event

– Select survey

– Enter the litter types you find

To carry out the survey, simply choose a 10m x 10m patch of ground (approximate is fine!) and then use your smart phone to record the types of litter you’re finding.

Once you’ve done the survey – have fun clearing it all up!

The results will be logged instantly on your GB Spring Clean account – and will be added with data from other surveys to form a national survey.

Thank you so much for all your support and good luck with your #GBSpringClean event!

Click for iPhone link
Click for android link


Major changes to recycling collection days in Foxwood, York Road and Wetherby Road areas from 1st April

Around a third of all households in York will have their collection day for recycling changed from 3rd April.

Streets in Westfield affected by the changes to recycling collection days

Households affected by the changes can expect to receive a new rubbish and recycling calendar in the post from 6 March – well in advance of the changes taking place.

The change – which means that recycling will be collected on a different day from green/grey bin emptying – could cause confusion in the affected areas.

The Council has previously promised to renew recycling boxes, lids and nets for those residents who need them. A stock is expected to be available for collection from the Foxwood Community Centre at its relaunch day on Saturday 1st April.

For the first few weeks at least a call back service is expected to be made available to cover missed collections.

The Council says that more information is now available online. This includes a list of all households affected so you can see whether or not your recycling collection day is changing at:  www.york.gov.uk/wastechanges .

At the moment the Council has not said on which day recycling will be collected in these areas.

The Council says  “If your household is affected and you do not receive your calendar by mid-March please contact the council’s waste services team on 01904 551551 or ycc@york.gov.uk 

These changes will make our waste service more efficient and cost effective. By reorganising our collection routes we will be able to include York’s new housing developments and homes without having to allocate additional resources.

The service will also save approximately £400,000 reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and enable the roll out of recycling collections to rural areas of the city that don’t currently have them”.

As a result of the review collection times will vary so all households (even if they are not changing day ) are reminded that they must present their household waste and recycling on the kerbside by 7am on the morning of their collection.

Rubbish (grey bin/black bags) and garden waste (green bin) collections are not affected by the changes. 

You can get alerts sent straight to your phone to remind you of your next collection day by downloading the free One Planet York app. To download the app visit the Apple app store or the Google Play Store.

LibDem survey asks about NHS, police profile and garages

A new survey launched today in west York seeks residents views on the NHS, GP appointments, dentists, Police visibility and council garages

The survey will be delivered to each household in the Westfield area but can be completed “on line” by clicking here http://tinyurl.com/springsur

A similar survey, completed in the autumn in the Chapelfields estate, revealed that:

  • Most tenants thought that the Council was doing a good job in managing houses in York. Despite this high rating—which mirrors the Councils own poll results—York is still considering passing Council housing management to a third party.
  • Unfortunately no one thought that the police were doing a good job in controlling crime levels in the Chapelfields area. This probably reflects recent problems with anti social behaviour although residents were evenly divided when asked whether vandalism, graffiti and rowdy behaviour had increased during the last year.
  • 67% did say that they thought that more should be invested in crime prevention
  • No strong views were expressed on a proposal to secure the Grange Lane park boundary with a kissing gate (to stop access by motorcyclists)




Threat to future of recycling banks in York?

Recycling bank locations Feb 2017

The Council is set to review the future of its network of recycling banks.

These banks range from small sites collecting less than 1 tonnes of recyclate each year to highly successful facilities like Tesco on Tadcaster Road (519 tonnes), Acomb car park (60 tonnes) and ASDA at Monks Cross (44.5 tonnes). A full list of sites, their usage and costs can be found by clicking here

The Council says that it costs £56,000 a year to service the 49 sites and that around 1500 tonnes of recyclate is collected each year. Some of the banks are run by charities and are self supporting

In a report to a meeting taking place next week, the Council fails to say how much landfill tax – or fly tipping clean-up costs – are saved by the network.

The report says that some sites are used primary by businesses and that they should be closed. The report fails to list the sites affected.

York currently has two major Household Waste Recycling centres which offer a full range of recycling opportunities.

The Acomb side of the City has not had a local equivalent since the Beckfield Lane site was closed in 2013 (by the last Labour administration). No proposals are currently on the table to revive the project to provide the salvage and reuse centre which had been planned for the Harewood Whin site.

Paper bank at Acomb car park

The Council says that it will start a public consultation on the future of the “bring sites” in April

While we think that a regular review of recycling arrangements is needed, there are some glaring anomalies in the proposals.

The Council still seems insensitive to the needs of the many people who don’t have vehicles in which to transport rubbish to central locations.

Several of the existing sites look very tatty (Acomb Car park) with some of the containers not having been repainted for several years. Site housekeeping is inconsistent with rubbish too often stacked around the banks.

Future of neighbourhood skip service still unclear

Critically some of the banks have often been full in recent years – a dispiriting result for residents seeking to dispose of their waste in a responsible way

And then there is the threat to end the regular skip visits which are a well-established and appreciated amenity on many sub-urban estates.  Visit dates, for the period after 1st April, have not been published.

The Council should get these issues sorted out before it considers reducing the accessibility of existing recycling facilities.

NB. The same meeting will consider a report on the use of funding for “community recycling” initiatives. None of the planned initiatives are in the Westfield/Acomb areas.

Streets cleaner, reporting systems improving in York

Although there is still a long way to go, many streets in the City are noticeably cleaner than they have been in recent years. It represents a success for the Council’s revised street sweeping processes where the emphasis now is on doing a thorough job rather than concentrating on speed. 

gb-spring-clean-logo-badge-finalCommunal areas and parks are still liable to litter problems. In some parts of the City residents are getting together to promote “clean up” events on or around 4th March. A range of support items for the “Great British Spring Clean” can be found  by clicking here

The Council’s own “on line” reporting systems are also improving although only the litter response team seem to be fully up to speed. Click here to access

before-and-after-andrew litter