Would you believe it; They’re going to dig up Tadcaster Road again!

A Council media release today confirms what many feared. The Tadcaster Road carriageway is going to be dug up again only 3 months after it was resurfaced.

Resurfacing work was completed in June

The carriageway is currently in excellent condition and contrasts markedly with the condition of most other roads in west York.

But it seems that the Council jumped the gun when they undertook a £600,000 resurfacing scheme earlier in the summer.

Waste Of Money GIFs | Tenor

The government announced a £5 million improvement budget in July only weeks after work on the road was completed. The government was responding to a bid that the York Council had made earlier in the year.

It is likely that taxpayers will want to know a lot more about how this blunder happened.

The Council media release issued today says,

“One of the busiest roads in York is set to benefit from a £5million government funded road improvement scheme.

City of York Council was successfully awarded funding from the Department of Transport’s Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

The funding will enable to council to improve large sections of drainage along this route which will reduce localised surface water flooding. The work includes the delivery of additional pedestrian crossings and will ensure the road is maintenance free for the next 10 years. 

The authority has been proactively working with all the major utility companies, water, gas, electric, phones, to coordinate their future work. During this process it became apparent that Northern Gas Networks (NGN), were due to carry out major work in 2023. Working in partnership they have brought this work forward to 10 October 2020 ensuring minimum disruption for residents and commuters. The council works are scheduled to start in January 2021.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said at City of York Council, said:

“It’s excellent news that our bid for £5million to upgrade Tadcaster Road to reduce localised flooding has been reviewed by Government and is now in approved.  This will deliver much needed improvements to one of York’s busiest routes.

“Our primary goal is to ensure these works are coordinated with utilities companies so that the level of disruption for residents, businesses and visitors is reduced as much as possible.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Wasn’t part of Tadcaster Road resurfaced earlier this year?
Yes, the council bid to government for a scheme on Tadcaster Road. The council received confirmation in March that it was unsuccessful and would not receive funding.  Therefore the council resurfaced a section of Tadcaster Road as it was in need of urgent repairs between The Horseshoe and St Aubyns Place. 
However, in June the council was then awarded the £5million funding to improve large sections of drainage along Tadcaster Road which will reduce the risk of localised surface water flooding.

Northern Gas Networks have recently informed the council they have plans to carry out major works to their service at Tadcaster Road by 2025. The council was not made aware of these works before the section of Tadcaster Road between The Horseshoe and St Aubyns Place was resurfaced earlier this year.
Whilst it is not an ideal situation, the Council would rather sacrifice a small part of the works that have been undertaken already rather than risk the digging up of the major £5 million scheme in a few years’ time for the Northern Gas Networks scheme.  

Bus shelters getting a coat of paint

Good to see some of the Councils bus shelters getting a much needed coat of paint. In contrast to the advertising shelters – which are generally kept clean and safe – many of the Councils shelters are dirty and neglected.

Some are overgrown with weeds and hedges.

Askham Lane bus shelter

Shelters are an important factor in making public transport an attractive option for travellers. They should be cleaned and repaired regularly

York Public Health Director quits

New housing chief also backs out of taking up York job

The Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care at the York Council has quit.

Now Councillors are scrambling around trying to make interim appointments to fill key vacancies just as the “second wave” of Covid 19 gains strength in the City.

They will discuss the issue at a meeting taking place next week

It seems likely responsibilities in the department will be carved up as interim Directors are appointed from within the existing office ranks.

it's life jim but not as we know it | Tumblr

The situation has been exacerbated by the actions of a Hull based official who had been offered the job of Assistant Director Housing and Community Safety.

The previous post holder left the Authority in February 2020.

The appointee had been due to join the York Council on 7th September but has backed out.

Now an interim appointment is to be made from within the Councils existing staff pool. The post will report to a new (delightfully opaquely styled) Director of “Place”.

The role is principally concerned with Council house management.

The department has been criticised for its ponderous reaction to several issues including the increasing length of time taken to let empty homes.

Several housing reports – due to be presented for decision over the last 6 months – have been mysteriously shelved. There has been no explanation and the original decision dates (long passed) have not been updated on the Councils forward plan. .

Does local decision making matter?

York Council propaganda brochure cover

The York Council is asking residents to support them by making representations to the government about a possible local government reorganisation.

They have point about unnecessary change being debilitating at a time when all resources should be focused on the recovery from the health crisis and the possible downside from BREXIT.

Most attention is focused on Council boundaries. The biggest threat to accountability is however posed by the introduction of a Mayoral position covering the whole of York and North Yorkshire.

Local government reorganisations in 1973 and again in 1997 were debilitating with new structures and personalities taking many years to come to terms with roles, geographies and priorities.  The post reorganisation periods were not ones that will be recorded in history for dynamic and decisive decision making. Rather they were periods where individuals and political parties jockeyed for position and advantage.

We now enjoy a settled structure with which everyone is familiar if not universally comfortable.

Some will say that there is no right time for system reform. That may be true.

But there is certainly a wrong time and we are clearly in the middle of it.

There has been little debate about the powers and responsibilities of an elected Mayor. While the achievements of the, hitherto largely urban, mayors attract mixed reviews, few argue that the system gives the average person any greater say over decisions affecting their local community.

The system is untested in a predominantly rural area of the size of North Yorkshire. The nearest parallel we have is the directly elected Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner. Turnout in the elections for that post was only 23%.  There was no mandate for the creation of the position and therefore people have not engaged with it. The underlying concern – absolute power corrupts absolutely – although an exaggeration in this case clearly has some relevance with many PFCC and Mayors displaying, after a few years, a tendency towards directional rather than consensus government. For this reason, the NYPFCC was eventually discarded by her own party and clings to power only because of the pandemic which caused elections to be suspended.

Women Voting GIF by US National Archives

For that reason we hope that any move towards creating a Mayoral post will be subject to a referendum of those living in the area.

They should be given a chance to choose between the change and the status quo.

That would be in line with the government’s stated intention to apply the principle of subsidiarity to local decision making and not to impose change on an unwilling community.

NB. In the period up to October 2016, there had been 53 referendums on the question of changing executive arrangements to a model with a directly elected mayor. Of these, 16 resulted in the establishment of a new mayoralty and 37 were rejected by voters

Future of number 4 bus service

UPDATE: WE HAVE HEARD FROM FIRST THAT THEY INTEND TO REVIEW THE WORKING OF THE NEW ROUTE IN SEPTEMBER.

Everyone knows that usage of bus services has reduced since the start of the pandemic. Some services are recovering passenger numbers more quickly than others.

Earlier in the week the York Council decided to continue its subsidy payments for concessionary travel (elderly and disabled passes) at historic levels despite the drop off in use.

That is the right decision if public transport is ever to become the first choice travel option for York residents

First York need to make their strategic intensions clear.

About 2 months ago they changed the route of the number 4 service on the Acomb village loop. For some time the service had used Gale Lane , Front Street, Green Lane and Tudor Road on a one way basis.

This is the route still currently shown on the First York web site timetable map (click)

First York web site map 29th Augst 2020

The alternative loop involves providing a two way service on Tudor Road/Green Lane. This is what is still in operation today. This route misses out the top section of Gale Lane.

However the flags at the bus stops in Tudor Road (east bound) do not show the number 4 stopping there. We think that is just an omission,.

Generally the return of a two way service in the Tudor Road area has been welcomed by local residents.

First should now confirm that the change will be permanent and that timetables, maps and bus stop signage will be amended accordingly.

Two way working on Tudor Road

Ascot Way still closed

Builders have closed Ascot Way forcing a bus diversion. The road has been closed by builders working on the Lincoln Court/Windsor House site.

A pedestrian route has been maintained but vehicles including buses and cyclists face a detour.

Ascot Way closed

The Council had previously claimed that the Centre for the Disabled, being built on the site of the former Windsor House home, would be completed in June. Work on this project, and the adjacent upgrade of the Lincoln Court apartments , looks to be some way from completion.

The Kingsway area has had more than its fair share of disruption in recent years. There is only one access road open and it has born the brunt of heavy vehicle operations. First there was the Hob Stone development – which dragged on for three years, then the Council development in Newbury Avenue to be quickly followed by the work now going on in Ascot Way.

Local residents are looking forward to the end of the disruption, the restoration of lost amenities plus urgently needed repairs to roads.

Coronavirus York updates; 28th July 2020

Deaths and test results

There have been no additional hospital deaths or positive test results reported in York today

There have been no further deaths in care homes with the total remaining at 77

According to the latest ONS figures, up to 25th July, there had been 168 deaths registered in the City giving the cause of death as COVID-!9.

Where to find an “eat out” discount restaurant

Not too many restaurants in the Westfield area have registered yet for the government backed “eat out to help out” discounts. The list does include the Indian Ocean on The Green and the Carlton Tavern.

Click here to see a list of participating restaurants near you

Use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme at these establishments:

  • to get 50% off your food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a total value of £10 per person if you eat or drink in
  • every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3 August and 31 August
  • as many times as you like

You don’t need a voucher to use the scheme and you can use it at the same time as other offers and discounts. There is no minimum spend.

Alcoholic drinks and service charges are excluded from the offer.

Check which chain restaurants have registered for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

York Council offices – limited reopening using appointment system

The York Council has been under increasing pressure in recent days to provide a road map back to more normal public service access arrangements in the City.

West Offices

Today they have said,

“From 27th July we are starting to reopen our customer centre by appointment only.

Following government guidance we will continue to ask residents  to use our website or contact our team by email or phone in the first instance. We do appreciate that it may not be possible to resolve all queries in this way, so our customer service team will book residents an appointment where needed.

Residents should not attend their appointment if they;

  • Have any symptoms of Covid-19 such as a fever, new repetitive cough, or change to sense of smell or taste
  • Share a household with anyone who is currently displaying Covid-19 or is self-isolating due to suspected Covid-19
  • Have been advised by the NHS track and trace to self-isolate as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19

How will it work?

From 27 July we are reopening our Customer Centre by appointment only. We are asking people to call our customer centre to book an appointment. We will try, where possible, to resolve their query over the phone.   However if this can’t be done, we will arrange an appointment.

Following government guidance, we will have a reduced number of staff in West Offices, with the majority continuing to work from home to support residents over the phone or by email.

Why by appointment only?

The safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our utmost priority. Government guidance remains that where possible people should work from home, throughout the pandemic thousands of queries have been resolved without the need for face to face appointments as people used the website or contacted our customer service team by phone.  We understand there may be some queries or specific individuals that will require in person support and are opening on a limited basis from 27 July, by appointment only.

What safety measures are in place?

We have introduced a number of measures to help keep our staff and customers safe including:

  • Touchless hand sanitiser station for all customers to use on arrival
  • Perspex screens for personal protection
  • Time between appointments
  • Limiting the number of staff and customers in the building at any one time by operating by appointment only

What services can people access by visiting?

Appointments can be made when a query can’t be managed over the phone or online for the below services:

  • Housing benefits
  • Council tax
  • Concessionary travel
  • Planning
  • Blue badges
  • Waste, highways and environment

For information on council services visit www.york.gov.uk, call 01904 551550 or email ycc@york.gov.uk

We hope that the Council will actively promote how access to all help and advice services can now be gained.

Council publishes performance data

Only 29% of York residents feel that they can influence decisions in their local area. 91% however feel is important that they should be able to influence their local area.

The paradox is revealed in the latest set of performance indicators published by the Council. They outturn figures for the last there financial years.  

Another perhaps significant finding is that only 31% of the members of a residents “talkabout” panel “speak positively about the Council”; 28% speak “negatively”.

However, 52% agreed that the Council treated them “fairly and with respect”.  

  • The number of instances of violence in the City centre rose from 1010 to 1057.
  • The number of cases of graffiti reported to the Council doubled to 385. This may have been prompted by the Councils decision to establish a new (and useful) graffiti removal team.
  • The number of street cleaning issues reported increased from 1943, in 2018/19, to 2578 in 2019/20.  The number of street cleaning issues remedied with within target times was 75%
  • Three fixed penalty notices were issued for littering during last year. This was down from six issued in 2018/19. There were also three PCNs issued for dog fouling offences.
  • The number of issues raised about weeds and overgrown hedges increased from 1919 to 2191.

The figures predate most of the lockdown period.

Lloyds bank in Acomb still open for business

Lloyds Bank in Front Street

Some good news from Acomb with an announcement that the York Road/Front Street branch of Lloyds bank will remain open “until further notice”.

The bank – the last branch in Acomb – was due to close in June.

The decision may help with post pandemic regeneration efforts in the Front Street commercial area.

We suspect that the closure has only been delayed but the decision is a welcome one nevertheless.