Residents have called on local Councillors to intervene to ensure that weeds growing on local paths and gutters are cleared. Today’s weather, damp and warm, is likely to see the problem get worse over the weekend.
In the little Green Lane garage area grass is now growing through the recently resurfaced forecourt. It is a similar situation in Windsor Garth
A huge increase in borrowing is proposed in a Labour party amendment to the York Councils budget plans.
£2.5 million extra will be borrowed with more being taken from reserves currently earmarked to provide additional social housing.
They say, most of the extra money will be spent on reducing “damp” in Council housing. The Council had already let a contract for £2 million to address this issue on 11th May.
The Council has record debt levels with over 22% of what a resident pays in Council Tax set to be spent on interest charges by 2022.
Plans for a “Children’s Commissioner” on a fat cat £75k salary, appear to be equally misguided. The Council has a well-paid Executive Councillor with responsibilities in the same area.
Labour also plans to cut £1/4 million from the “safer communities” crime reduction budget. This is an extraordinary misjudgement of the problems that exist in parts of the City with anti-social behaviour, drug misuse, graffiti and vandalism on the increase.
Instead money would be spent on two additional talking shops; a “Human Rights Commission” and a “Carbon Neutral City Citizens Assembly” are proposed.
The only part of the Labour plan which might gain some support is a proposed investment of £40,000 in reducing, to one day, the target time taken to remove “fly tipping”. Some may, however, feel that the first step should be to improve bulky waste collection arrangements and reintroduce regular visits by “skips” to key estates.
The Council’s revised budget proposals will be debated tomorrow (Wednesday)
Council leadership set to prioritise road repairs, play
facilities, housing, energy efficiency and Social Care.
The new Council leadership has announced changes to the budget
that it inherited. As expected, extra investment in improvements to street
level public services are planned.
There will be extra investment in
Additional Litter bins
Street environment (cleaning and community
Electric vehicle charging point maintenance.
The biggest investment will be £1 million spent on road repairs
and a further £1 million on cycling/walking improvements
There will be a £250,000 boost for children’s play facilities.
The Council will invest £1 million in speeding up housing modernisation
and a further £1 million on energy efficiency improvements
£22,000 is being taken for the reserves to improve children’s and adult social care standards.
Several of the proposals are less than transparent. We are told, for example, that the Council will “Re-purpose funding from the Leeds City Region Business Rates Pilot to strengthen our approach to inclusive growth, including child poverty, greening the high street and promote lifelong learning”
Also, the Council will fund “connections with communities most impacted by EU exit to better understand their needs, and to take forward the community hubs work initiated”
Four schemes are intended to be self-funding. They relate to
foster care, Special Education Needs and Disability pupils, Public Health and mental
The proposals will be welcomed by many in the City. It will, however, take more than £1 million to get the City’s roads back into good order.
£4.25 million of the plan is capital investment, meaning higher debt charges in the future (and less to spend in the revenue budget).
The plans are likely to be criticised for failing to clearly identify the objectives of some of the changes with no detail given of how the success of the projects will be measured.
No KPIs are listed and there is no clear vision of how the City will look in 4 years’ time.
Residents may feel that prompt attention to reducing the costs of some inherited major projects is necessary, especially if demands on taxpayers in future years are to remain under control.
It really shouldn’t cost £35,000 to “ launch a public
Citizen’s Assembly on how the Council can best work in an open way”
The Council must become a “can do” rather than a “can talk” organisation.
Still it’s a start, and a better one than was managed by the
last two Council administrations.
The proposal will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 17th July
320,000 pieces of chewing gum removed from pavements.
York Councillors will be considering a reporton Wednesday that reviews the work of the York BID. The, mainly business funded organisation, was formed in April 2016 and aims to improve the attractiveness of the City centre.
The report includes an impressive list of achievements. The blight
of chewing gum on footpaths is produces a particularly eye catching headline.
In addition, 961 pieces of graffiti and fly posters have been removed.
The BID ranger service has also helped to reduce anti-social
behaviour and address other criminal activities.
There has been a 1.9% increase in footfall in the City.
Last month the government, the Architectural Heritage Fund
and the National Lottery Heritage Fund announced a £62 million package of
support to breathe new life into historic high streets across the country, to
restore historic buildings, create new work spaces and cultural venues. As part
of the overall funding, £55 million had been allocated from the Future High
Streets Fund. We still hope to see York benefit from this type of
The York BID has been successful initiative and has made a real
difference to the quality of the City centre. It has been criticised for
drawing Council resources away from sub-urban centres like Acomb but overall the
BID is viewed positively.
There are ongoing issues with more improvements needed to the
streetscape – too many weeds and too much graffiti – and of course empty properties.
The latter in areas like Coney Street now look to be intractable problems, which
is why the governments attitude to the City is so disappointing.
Some underused sites and buildings – including those owned by
the Council – need to be redeveloped quickly now. The meeting on Wednesday will
hear from the Executive member with responsibility for “Economy and
Strategic Planning”. Members will no doubt be hoping to hear some positive news
about the use of empty property economic development activities in the whole of
We hope that corporate interests will similarly ensure that
prominent, but derelict, sites like that next to the Barbican will also now be
developed (or at least tidied up).
Overall the BID has had a successful 3 years and can look with
confidence to an extension of its mandate.
NB. “Make it York” is reporting separately on its activities click here to readtheir report
Some of the Executive member responsibilities will raise eyebrows.
Splitting responsibility for “parks and open spaces” from “sport and leisure” does’t look like joined up thinking. Both are areas where the last Council had major policy failures, so some sort of refresh is needed.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the change in political control of the York Councils affairs has produced an hiatus in decision making. The published forward programme of decisions which need to be made is very thin (click to link)
They new Council Leadership is perhaps wise to be cautious and to avoid the impulsive decision making, in the wake of election euphoria, which has been the undoing of some previous administrations
However, over a month after the polls, residents are little wiser on who now has responsibility for overseeing the different aspects of Council policy and performance. All we have are vague – and seemingly controversial in some quarters – job titles.
The result is a lack of clarity with crucial street level public service standards under pressure. Surprisingly few of the new intake of Councillors have so far communicated direct with the people who elected them. A “thank you for your support” leaflet was de rigueur until recently.
As we reported yesterday, some haven’t even included a contact telephone number on their Council web page yet (click link) NB. Councillors are recompensed for telephone costs through the “basic allowance” that they receive.
Meanwhile there are issues across the whole City which should be resolved quickly. The Councils PR team should be tasked with informing residents what will happen, when and to what quality.