Give them a break!

Many public service workers will be on duty over the festive period.  Inevitably the services of the Police, Council workers and health professionals will be required by some members of society.

However we can all help to reduce the pressures on public services with a little forethought and consideration

Vandalised car seats in Cornlands Road garage area.

Litter on Cornlands park

Trolley dumped in little Green Lane parking area

Abandoned bike chained to Indoor bowling club railings

Vandalised house sale sign

Full litter bin

Litter near Foxwood shops. (Residents undertook a litter pick near the bus shelter yesterday)

How is your neighbourhood?

Council releases updated “ward profile” information

The York Council has updated the “Ward Profile” pages on its open data web site. Residents can view a range of statistics about the area in which they live. Click here https://data.yorkopendata.org/dataset/york-ward-profiles-2018-19-q2

A summary of the information is also provided at City level.

The figures compare local public service standards and residents’ views with the City averages (Westfield figures are shown in brackets in the summary below.

  • York has 208,163 residents (14,171) with 5.7% (3.1%) from a black and minority ethnic community group. 83.9% (78.9%) are in good health, with 15.3% (18.8%) stating that they have some limitation in day to day activities.
  • £637.58 (£594.62) was the Average Weekly Household Income in 2015/2016 (£629.00 [£580.00] in 2013/2014).
  • 66% (57%) own their own home, either outright or with a mortgage, 18% (9%) are private renters and 14% (32%) are social tenants. There are 7,614 Council Houses in York.

Westfield continues to be the “poorest” ward in the City although average incomes are now steadily rising.  It is consistently in the “worst” 5 wards when judged on a range of indicators including the economy, poverty, health & Wellbeing, crime, schools, transport and residents engagement.

However more people living in the ward agree that they can influence decisions in their local area than the city average.

The area also scores well on the availability of “superfast broadband”, travel times to secondary schools and business starts ups while most social care stats are positive.

The numbers unemployed have also fallen dramatically over the last 2 years.

Perhaps the biggest underlying problem is health, with 35% of children judged to be overweight. The area also has the largest proportion of overweight adults. Life expectancy is below average for both male and females. These figures will add to criticism of the York Councils decision to reduce the amount of open and sports space available in the ward.

Satisfaction with the Council as land lord is declining according to tenants’ views. Lack of car parking dog fouling and drug use are cited as significant issues in some areas.

All in all, the figures make interesting reading although the major impression is that things have improved over the last year or two.

Report those potholes

Residents are urged to report any dangerous potholes on their local road or footpath before the bad weather sets in.

Potholes invariably get bigger in icy conditions.

Reports can be made “on line” 24/7 using the “report it” web site https://www.york.gov.uk/reportproblems  click

The Council have been busy today relaying the road surface at the top end of Foxwood Lane. The carriageway there had been subject to repeated problems with potholes. They posed a hazard for cyclists in particular

We’ve reported a pothole that was developing on the surface of the road in Walker Drive

6 taxi/private hire vehicles ordered off the road in York following safety checks.

Joint operation ensures taxi passengers’ safety in York

A series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out as part of a shared operation to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

The multi-agency operation ran twice in November and December, and involved officers from taxi licensing partners including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Over the two operations, a total of 25 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages operating in York were stopped and checked. Vehicles licensed by York, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield were inspected.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside, to check they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed and insured.

As a result, six vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA and had their licences suspended. Four of the six suspended taxis and private hire vehicles were licensed by City of York, three of which were suspended for a period of 4 – 8 days, with one vehicle still off the road.

The vehicles were suspended due to the following faults:

  • defective tyres
  • tyres fitted to the front axle of different sizes and no operable spare
  • defective or inoperative headlights
  • an illuminated engine warning light
  • defective coil springs.

A further twelve drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by enforcement officers about breaches of licensing conditions.

Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email public.protection@york.gov.uk so the council’s public protection team can investigate.
(more…)

Recycling – changes on their way?

The government has announced plans to try to increase the proportion of items which are recycled. They are promising a weekly collection of food waste although how expensive this might be, and what impact it may have on the operation of the North Yorkshire waste incinerator, remains to be explained.

Rightly the government is focusing on plastics. There is still  much more that can be done to take plastics out of the waste stream. One idea is to make sellers responsible for the recycling of packaging.

In York we have seen at least one step backwards in recent years as shops like Cartridge World have ceased trading. Most toner cartridge sales are now made over the internet with few companies offering a return service of single empty cartridges.

The York Councils “A to Z” of recycling lists only one outlet where empty cartridges can be taken for reuse (Office Outlet on Foss Island Road ) although there are other like Tesco on Tadcaster Road which are not publicised.

It really does little to help the environment if people must drive several miles to recycle relatively small items

The Council needs to update its web site and modernise signage at Hazel Court.

The plan to establish a Reuse and Salvage centre also needs to be revived. It was scrapped by the Labour controlled Council in 2011.

A more enthusiastic approach to using street scrap merchants might also result in less waste.

BBC stats indicating the percentage of plastics by type which are currently recycled

Landmark report reveals active lives of York’s children.

New research published by Sport England yesterday, carried out independently by Ipsos MORI, reveals the nation-wide challenge to help children lead more active lives.

Sport England report

In the face of this, the City of York is reported to have higher than average levels of children engaging in sports and physical activity on a daily basis.

The largest ever survey of its kind, Active Lives Children and Young People, has provided comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in physical activity both in and out of school. It shows that around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, doing an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day. However, just over 2.3 million children and young people (32.9%) are less active which means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

The report is based on responses from over 130,000 children aged 5-16 in England during the academic year 2017 to 2018. It also reveals that there are significant inequalities based on family income, showing that children from the most affluent families are more active than those in the least affluent families.

The report was released on the same day as the York Council decided to demolish the only, free access, all weather games area in west York. A Sport England request for the facility to be replaced was ignored by planning Councillors

For York, the report shows encouraging results, with the city having a higher percentage of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity per day, and lower than average percentages of children falling into the ‘less active’ category (see below).

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive member for adult social care and health said, “It’s encouraging to see the high percentages of children in York taking up the opportunity to live active lives and benefit their physical health early in life. We still want to see these figures continue to rise as we ensure children of all backgrounds can access opportunities to make healthy life choices and get active.

“Since that academic year we have launched our #MoveMoreYork campaign, encouraging everyone across the city, all ages and abilities, to move more in their everyday life and make healthy choices which can benefit them for the rest of their life.”

Move to address declining refuse collection reliability in York

Council invests additional £125,000 in waste & recycling services

click to access CYC waste Facebook site

 

Following recent challenges to the Council’s Waste & Recycling Service, Councillors have agreed to spend £125K on improving the resilience of the service.

At a meeting of the Council Executive on Thursday (29th November 2018), it was agreed to use £125k from the waste reserve to recruit and train more staff ahead of the winter season.

Earlier this year a national shortage of HGV drivers, sickness and poor weather caused a number of issues for the Waste & Recycling Service.

In response, improving the service was made a priority; including rectifying missed collections and holding a successful recruitment day for staff in September.

A further report will be taken to an Executive Member decision session next month, recommending a new driver apprentice programme, in order to support the service in the long-term.  If approved, the Council will develop a driver apprentice programme within the waste team to train drivers as early as next year.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Environment, said:

“This year has been a challenging one for our Waste & Recycling Service, because, like many other areas in the country, we have felt the effects of a national shortage in HGV drivers.”

“Residents have, quite rightly, felt frustrated by missed collections and that is why we have been working hard to identify the best approach to supporting the service amidst these challenges.”

“Therefore, I am pleased that the Council Executive has agreed to invest a further £125K in the service, as this will allow us to immediately take steps in improving the resilience of the service, particularly before the busy Winter period.  This is a short-term measure and one of many we are looking at to support the service.” (more…)

Post Office clarifies Lendal Post Office transfer plans.

Lendal Post Office

We reported earlier in the week that some of the documents issued by the Post Office were unclear about what services would be transferred from Lendal to their new branch in Coney Street.

They have written back to provide some clarification.

I hope it will be helpful to explain that the vast majority of products and services available in a Directly Managed Branch will transfer to a franchise with the exception of The UK Visa and Immigration Biometric Enrolment Service for the Home Office.  This service is currently available nationwide by agreement with the Home Office and is provided through a mix of directly managed and WHSmith’s branch locations. 

The Home Office recently awarded a new contract for this service to another supplier and it has been announced that our role in this is coming to an end in November, although we are discussing supporting the Home Office until March 2019”.

The Home Office is understood to have issued a contract to an on line supplier.

WHSmith

The Post Office has not provided any quality of service stats for the Lendal branch.

Nor will they reveal the target “queue waiting times “for the new branch which they hope to open in the WHSmith’s premises.

We think that the quality of  customer services should be a key factor in making any decision about moving public service access points.

A little more transparency wouldn’t be amiss although the move to 7 days a week opening will be a step forward.

Residents wishing to comment on the plans should click here to fill out the Post Office survey

Sudden Woodthorpe Post Office closure

Cllr Ashley Mason outside the closed Woodthorpe Post Office

Councillor calls for services to be restored

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Ashley Mason is calling on Post Office bosses to move quickly to restore counter services at Woodthorpe Post Office.

Counter services at the Post Office were withdrawn suddenly last week, with rumours circulating locally that the counter will be closed for five weeks. Liberal Democrat Councillors for Dringhouses & Woodthorpe contacted the Post Office late last week to request an update, and they have received the following statement:

“I can confirm that this branch has been closed on a temporary basis due to circumstances outside of Post Office Ltd’s control. We can’t disclose any further details about the closure as this information is private and confidential, and I’m unable to confirm when the branch will re-open, I can however assure you that our internal teams are working to minimise this disruption in service as much as possible.”

Cllr Ashley Mason, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dringhouses & Woodthorpe, commented:

“The local Post Office is a real lifeline for many local people, particularly older residents, who would otherwise struggle to get to other branches in Acomb or Dringhouses.”

“This closure, however temporary it may be, couldn’t have come at a worse time, with many people wanting to send Christmas cards overseas or parcels to friends and family.”

“I am calling on the Post Office to restore counter services as quickly as possible

 

Closure of Lendal Post Office gets mixed response

A local MPs reaction, to news that Post-Office services will be transferred about 200 metres to a site within W H Smiths on Coney Street, has provoked a mixed reaction. A photo of a local Councillor giving the clench fist salute at an anti-Post Office street rally, raised concerns that this might be the precursor to barricades being erected in the streets, accompanied by loud singing of the “Internationale”

The MP was pictured pasting a “protestcard” in a dummy pillar box (apparently oblivious to the fact the Royal Mail has been a separate business for many years).

But she may have a point.

The Post Office’s “on line” consultation seems to be less than transparent. It refers to the introduction of 7 day a week services at the new site (good) but singularly fails to say what services will be provided there.

Lendal Post Office

It merely says

 “A wide range of services would still be available at the (new) branch”.

So not all services will transfer then?

We have written to the Post Office asking them to clarify which services, currently provided at the Lendal office, will not be available at the Smiths branch, and where the nearest alternative customer access point is located?

Without this information, customers can’t possibly respond to the Post Office questionnaire which asks whether people will be inconvenienced by the move.

We have also asked the Post Office to provide quality of service stats for their present Lendal operation.

For example, mean and maximum queuing times?

We think that the Post Office should also publish customer quality of service targets for any new branch.

WHSmith

If they don’t provide more information, then we may have to look out an old songbook.

How does it go,

This is our final and decisive battle;
With the Internationale humanity will rise up!

..although possibly, being York, that might only involve a slightly heated exchange on “twitter”?