Council installs national standard security in run up to Christmas

City of York Council is working with North Yorkshire Police, Make It York and partners across York to make the city centre over the festive season the safest it’s ever been.

Work is beginning to install extra security measures to protect all who enjoy the centre of York. This nationally-approved infrastructure includes traffic-slowing measures as used in Edinburgh and more locally, in Harrogate, and adds to and further strengthens existing measures to protect our city centre. 

Last year, York’s footstreets trialled a first phase of measures. Now, with these additional temporary safety features in place, everyone is encouraged to carry on and enjoy their plans to attend or take part in events as normal. With increased security checks at some events and venues, please arrive in good time to allow for this.

Traffic to the city centre is already limited at busy times, and with chicanes and the additional measures, pedestrians will be kept even safer. Meanwhile delivery vehicles will have controlled entry at the usual permitted times.

In the rare event of getting caught up in a weapons attack we urge you to follow the Run, Hide, Tell advice:

  • to a place of safety, rather than to surrender or negotiate.
  • If there’s nowhere to run to, hide and don’t confront.
  • Only when it is safe to do so, tell the police by calling 999.

Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, Neighbourhood Policing Commander for York and Selby, added: “Although the terrorist threat level has now been lowered to substantial, we still need to remain vigilant and do everything possible to keep people safe.

“These latest measures are a welcome addition to our existing security plans designed to help keep York safe and secure during the festive season and the weeks leading up to it.

“Our Project Servator teams will also be out and about and could appear anywhere, anytime, so if you see them, please stop for a chat and find out how your support can help prevent crime and terrorism.”

As ever we urge everyone to remain vigilant and alert but not alarmed. Please report anything suspicious to the police. You can pass information in confidence via the Action Counters Terrorism website at gov.uk/ACT where you can find out what to look out for. You can also report information on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, always call 999.

Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing and community safety at City of York Council, said: “While very rare, terror attacks in the UK can create a lot of concern. With our partners in the police, we are making the city centre more secure than it has ever been, and want to reassure everyone who uses it that we are prepared, alert and ready to help protect them.

“It’s essential that we all maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to invest in strong protective security measures such as those we’ve installed to deter future attacks.”

£3227 fine for breaching clean regulations in York

Supporting work to enforce air quality in York, City of York Council has prosecuted a contractor for burning pollutants and waste offences.

At York Magistrates’ Court on 5 November, Richard Heppell, aged 28 of Knapton Close, Strensall, pleaded guilty to burning materials which caused the emission of dark smoke, for carrying waste without a licence, failing in his duty of care to dispose of waste lawfully. He was ordered to pay a total £3,227.58.

In April 2019, a report was made to the council of commercial waste being burned at a building site at Askham Bryan and dark smoke being emitted. Officers visited the site that day and found that rather than pay for this commercial waste – which included cables and wires – to be removed legally, he burned it, creating polluting, dark smoke.

Contractor Richard Heppell from AOS (Art of Smart) said he was carrying out electrical work at the new property being built. He confirmed under caution that some of this waste, which included coated cables and quantities of polythene and polystyrene packaging, would have been from his company. Mr Heppell was warned that burning any commercial waste which causes dark smoke is an offence.

Within 30 minutes of this visit, another complaint was received alleging that further dark smoke had been seen when the bonfire was lit again. Officers visited the site the following day and confirmed that the waste had been burned, found documentation addressed to Mr Heppell’s business, and found waste from previous jobs he had undertaken.

Mr Heppell failed to produce details of his waste carriers licence and how he disposes of his waste. He said he was unaware that he had to keep details of his waste disposal and didn’t realise he needed to have a licence. He obtained a waste carrier’s licence on 7 May. When interviewed under caution he admitted burning the waste, saying that he had “panicked”, had been “very stupid” and immediately regretted doing so.

He was prosecuted for four offences relating to creating polluting, noxious smoke. He pleaded guilty to all offences by post and the court fined him £500, he was ordered to pay £2,677.58 costs and a court surcharge of £50.

For more information on how to dispose of commercial waste legally and safely, please visit: https://www.york.gov.uk/info/20090/commercial_waste/1569/commercial_waste_disposal_responsibilitie

Homes closed in Dale Street & Wensley House to stop drug-related anti-social behaviour

To tackle anti-social behaviour blighting the lives of neighbours, the courts have allowed the council has to close two council homes.

This action has been part of recent activity to curb drug trafficking from large cities to smaller towns, known as County Lines. This can involve criminal activity around a home which council and police officers have worked together to stop.

On 9 October, York Magistrates’ court issued a Premises Closure Order to the council for a home in Dale Street, off Nunnery Lane. This follows a number of criminal incidents, some of which involved drugs and violence. The police supported the council to secure the order which prohibits anyone except the tenant from entering or remaining the property. The tenant has since ended the tenancy and the flat will be re-let as soon as possible.

On Tuesday 5 November, the council secured the full closure of a flat at Wensley House, Holgate. This follows drug-related incidents involving offensive weapons which were attended by North Yorkshire Police, and who have backed the council’s action to close this home. The order will be in force for three months from the date of issue.

Premises Closure Orders are often used to break a cycle of anti-social and sometimes illegal and violent behaviour at the property. This may be caused or aggravated by visitors and can sometimes be out of the control of the tenant or encouraged by them.

It is a criminal offence to enter or remain in a property in breach of the terms of the closure order. Doing so can lead to penalties of up to a year’s imprisonment, fines or both.

Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, Neighbourhood Policing Commander for York and Selby, added: “Tackling County Lines and the violence and antisocial behaviour associated with it is a major priority for North Yorkshire Police. It involves the exploitation of the young and the vulnerable and requires a response from not just the police, but many partner agencies too – we can’t do it alone.

“This action by City of York Council is a great example of true joint working and will help to disrupt the misery caused by out-of-town drug dealers in the neighbourhood.”

Cllr Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “Criminal behaviour is unacceptable and these orders are very effective ways of ensuring that it stops.

“Premises closure orders, along with routine policing, can help breaking the cycle of criminality and repeat offending, with which a very small minority of people can blight the lives of neighbours and the immediate community. The closure comes at a cost of a much-needed council home which we hope to re-let as soon as possible.

“The courage of the local community in supporting us to stand up to this anti-social and criminal behaviour should not be underestimated.”

Flooding Updated

Updated 1500hrs 8th Nov 2019

Flood alerts issued for River Ouse. Not expected to reach a warning level.

Just a reminder that a map indicating long term flooding vulnerability in the City can be found by clicking here.

It covers both surface water (drain capacity) issues and also the potential for rivers and streams to overflow.

There are currently no flood alerts in York although their are warnings in place in other parts of Yorkshire. These are likely to impact on travel arrangements,.

Real time water level gauges can be viewed by clicking here

Possible good news about tree maintenance in York

We’ve been unhappy with tree management in York for several years. A new Council policy adopted in 2016 failed to address the issue while budget cut backs let only a minimal tree maintenance work taking place.

On streets like Wetherby Road and Green Lane a combination the poor historical choice of species type coupled with trees being planted too close to the highway, meant that lopping happened only by attrition. Branches grew until they reached the point where a high sided vehicle knocked them off.

Tree disease is also a problem in the City and this is taking away a lot of the available maintenance resources. Safety is of course of paramount importance.

We were, however, disappointed to have to report a few days ago that a self seeded tree on Balfour Street, reported for attention some 2 years ago, was still causing damage to the adjacent railings and footpath. Council officials claimed that they could not use their budget to appoint a contractor to remove the tree and plant a replacement a few metres away in a more suitable location.

Now there seems to have been a change of heart.

Officials are saying that they will arrange for the work to be done within the next few weeks. A accumulation of leaves on nearby paths will also be swept up

Balfour Street

EU settlement scheme in York gets Council boost

Members of City of York Council’s Executive are sending a clear message of warmth and support to EU Citizens today in a letter to all EU27 Citizens in York. The letter reminds them of the help on offer for their EU Settlement Scheme application.

About the EU Settlement Scheme

If you are a citizen of a European Union country, a European Economic Area country (Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) or Switzerland, you and your family can apply now for the Government’s settled or pre-settled status scheme.

Settled status or pre-settled status will ensure your continued right to stay in the United Kingdom after Brexit and will ensure you continue to have the same access to healthcare, benefits and pensions you currently have.

Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme are now open and the process needs to be completed online. All EU citizens currently living in York are strongly encouraged to apply for pre-settlement or settlement status via the www.gov.uk website. The current deadline for applying is 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020, should the UK leave without a deal).

Irish citizens need not apply as their status and rights are protected under existing laws. As well as this, some individual agreements have been reached with other European countries that are not part of the EU. All details and eligibility can be found at www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families.

Local support

  • Citizens Advice York will offer full help and support to applicants, including help in filling in the form and advice on issues which may arise during the application process. Call 03444 111 444 or visit the drop-in at West Offices (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30 am to 12.30 pm) for help and advice with your application.
  • Book an ‘assisted digital’ help session with ‘We Are Digital’ for support completing the EU Settlement Scheme online application, if you don’t have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to complete the form:
  • telephone: 03333 445675
  • text: ‘VISA’ to 07537 416944
  • EU citizens who do not wish to send their documents by post or are not able to use the government’s ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app, can make an appointment at York Register Office to have their ID documents scanned and verified, before applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Call 01904 654477 to book an appointment.

Document scanning appointments are available:

  • Mondays, from 1pm to 4.30pm
  • Tuesdays, from 1pm to 4.30pm

Waiting times may vary and family groups are welcome to attend the same appointment.

More information is available at www.york.gov.uk/EUSettlementScheme.

Issues in Albemarle Road area need tackling

Earlier in the week some parked cars on Albemarle Road were broken into. It seems that handbrakes were also released and vehicles allowed to crash into a wall.

Solid parking along the whole length of Almemarle Road. Yellow lines almost worn away.

Parking and traffic issues on the road are not new. Some at least arises out of he lack of parking controls (it is not yet a ResPark area). Today a delivery wagon had to reverse for nearly 1/4 mile to avoid on coming traffic. A dangerous manoeuvre. With some of the parking down to commuters, the introduction of ResPark – coupled to the provision of additional “passing places” – would seem to be in everyone’s interests.

The area is also blighted by graffiti
Back lanes in the area are covered in weed and leaf fall with some also overgrown by hedges
Another area where Council bus shelters are showing their age. This one on Queen Victoria Street has a loose electrical connection.

Distinctly rebellious

Something of a furore has been caused on social media by a proposal to co-opt members of “Extinction Rebellion” onto the York Councils climate change scrutiny committee.

Although “Extinction Rebellion” is an unincorporated organisation, with little in the way of governance structure, it is easy to see why they would have an interest in a Climate Change committee.

What is irking some people is the way that the co option proposal has come forward.

Co opted members of Council Committees do not have a vote. They are free to make their points on a level playing field with elected representatives. Policy decisions rest with either Executive members or the Councils Executive itself.

A committee can however provide a powerful platform on which to express views.

Usually a committee thinking of co opting “experts” will consider a job description.  They will identify gaps in the committees knowledge. They may want to correct an obvious psephological or geographical imbalance. They will certainly list the skill and qualification areas expected of any co optee.

The committee in this case doesn’t seem to have done any of that.

Instead a paternalistic approach has been adopted by the chair of the committee, who rather arrogantly, has listed the names of 4 people potential co-optees that most will not have heard of, and who have not been subjected to the test of an election (even by their peers)

That is paternalism.

There are other well established environmental organisations in the City with a claim to representation (Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace etc.) They don’t even merit a mention in the report.

The Climate Change committee has struggled so far to find an identity.

6 months after its inception it has yet to define a base line statistical position on carbon emissions. It seems unclear whether it is trying to make the City, or just the Council, carbon neutral by 2030.

It has the levers to do the latter but not the former without major central government intervention.

It should stop posturing and come up with some practical proposals for behaviour change, or investment priorities, that everyone in the City can relate to.

Too slow York Council

Disappointing to see the York Council failing to get to grips with some straight forward issues. Maybe the lack of a Chief Executive is beginning to have any effect.

The Yokr Council needs to become a “can do” authority again and quickly.

We pointed out yesterday that there had been unnecessary delays in implementing this years Housing Estate Improvement programme.

We now find similar delays in addressing problems with graffiti removal, cutting back over grown trees and removing nettles from open spaces.

Regarding the tree, which is damaging the fence and path on Balfour Street, the Council says that it has other more pressing issues for its tree teams to attend to. They just need to appoint a contractor to remove the tree and plant a replacement (further away from the path). It would take less than 1/2 day to sort out using modern equipment.
Graffiti reported on 24th October still hasn’t been removed
Nettles, obstructing access to the poop scoop bin on little Hob Moor, are still there despite being reported for attention on 30th September.
Leaf fall like this on Foxwood Lane is an increasing problem. The Council should publish regular update reports indicating how well their clearance programme is progressing.

Latest poverty figures hide York shame

There has been some smug comments from  some politicians fallowing the release of the latest government figures on poverty levels. Known as the index of multiple deprivation, the figures give a clue to which are the most well off neighbourhoods and which the worst.

Government poverty figures

Overall York has fared well over the last couple of years. The York Outer constituency is now ranked 530 out of 533; the same as it was 4 years ago.

York Central has improved its relative position from 339 to 364. (High number is good). This largely reflects the “gentrification” of parts of the City and relatively high employment rates..

However, the overall figures disguise the level of poverty that is concentrated in some parts of the City.

The worst ranked neighbourhood (LSOA E01013443) is the Kingsway West area which includes Windsor Garth.

Kingsway neighbourhood. Officially the most deprived in York

It is the only York neighbourhood to rank in the bottom 20% in the country.

It fares particularly badly on health, employment and income indicators.

This neighbourhood is in the Westfield ward which itself is rated as the most deprived in the City.

The revelation should come as no surprise to the York Council. Campaigners have been pointing out for the last three or four years that the area was not only being neglected but that key services were being run down.

Kingsway ranks poorly on 8 individual indices and is the worst overall. Scores are out of 10 with low being poor.

The local multi user games area (MUGA) was recently closed down and a promised replacement has not materialised. Nearby the Lowfield’s playing field is also being built on while a bowling green has also been lost. The residents association folded a few years ago following complaints that its views were ignored by Councillors.

The neighbourhood does have a disproportionately high number of older people. This can drive down average income levels. It is also true to say that residents are mostly philosophical about their neighbourhood which still retains a good sense of community pride

However, it high time that the authorities – both local and national – made an commitment to regenerate public services for Kingsway residents.