The good and the bad of decision making at the York Council

The present administration at the York Council was elected on a raft of manifesto promises which included a commitment to improved street level public service standards as well as to more open decision making.

They rightly aimed to achieve this by delegating more decisions so that they could be taken at community level.

In practice ward Councillors were given more neighbourhood responsibilities supported by an enhanced budget.

Additional funding was made available for general improvements. The Housing Estate improvement budget processes were also changed in an attempt to give those areas that did not have a residents association a share of the available resources.

Although progress in delivering schemes which were identified in the summer has been painfully slow, at least some attempt has been made to provide more transparency. The latest list of approved schemes can be downloaded (link). It lacks update information on implementation progress but it is better than was provided by the last Council.

Decisions are now being publicised on a regular basis. The latest was agreed at the end of February (click)

Latest approvals

Its a great shame though that that the new delegated budget – totalling £1 million – and intended for highway, cycle and footpaths improvements has not produced any tangible results. The condition of several local highways is now very poor, yet the budget remains unused.

The Council today published what purported to be a delegated decision (which has apparently been approved by a senior manager) detailing  how the budget will be used. However anyone viewing the Council web site would still be unable to see a list of the roads which might benefit. It simply says that the schemes  are located in the Fulford and Derwent Wards.

There are poorly maintained road surfaces across the City

This really isn’t good enough.

Road requiring attention were identified by local residents over 6 months ago.   That is long enough to allow for resurfacing to be arranged. 

We are now within 3 weeks of the end of the financial year.

Road repairs backlog building in York

Residents will have a lot of sympathy with local highways inspectors who have the unenviable task of allocation very limited resources to road repairs. Poor weather has increased the number of potholes appearing over recent weeks. The poor state of highway surfaces is a reflection of inadequate investment in maintenance by the York Council for nearly a decade.

An additional pothole filling team is promised to be in place from April. Their arrival can’t come soon enough, at least in west York.

The Councils on line “report it” system now monitors highway defect reports. It is possible to see which reports have been read by officials. Several, reported over the last month, are recorded as “solved”. In reality the problems remain. The potholes have simply been judged not to be deep enough to warrant filling.

That is potentially bad news for cyclists.

Councillors receive very little in the way of monthly performance reports on highways activities, so its impossible to know whether the condition of roads and footpaths is getting worse or improving. The number of reports and complaints received is not routinely published.

Complaints about damage to verges, like parking on footpaths, go largely unmonitored. In summer it is a similar situation with highway obstructions like over grown hedges and weeds.

We hope for better in the future.

Askham Lane carriageway, near A1237 roundabout, will not be repaired
We’ve asked for detritus to be swept from the gutters in Otterwood Lane
The thorn hedge on the snicket to the rear on St Josephs Court (Cornlands Road) needs to be cut back before it becomes a hazard for pedestrians
The Acomb car park recycling area is tidier than it has been on some occasions in the past. Someone is still fly tipping in the area though.

Bus stop blocked by building works

The bus stop on Ascot Way, which has already been moved once to facilitate building works at the new disabled centre, is currently unusable

It is unclear how long the stop will be out of use, although the final plans for the development show the bus stop returning to its original location

Centre Of Excellence for Disabled Children 26th February 2020

Meanwhile the disabled centre building is getting its first layer of insulation. We remain sceptical about whether it will be completed by the promised date in May.

Roadworks on Fishergate and Wigginton Road to start next week

 

City of York Council will be carrying out resurfacing works from next week at Fishergate (starting 17 February) and Wigginton Road (starting 9 March).

The Fishergate works start on Monday 17 February and will take around seven nights to complete (weather permitting), working between 7.30pm till 5am, Monday to Friday only (weekend excluded).

In order to carry out these works safely the use of a temporary road closure from the junction of Kilburn Road up to, but not including, the junction of Fewster Way will be put in place.

Fulford Road and the junction of Cemetery Road will also be closed as part of the works. A clearly signed diversion route will be set out for through traffic.

Buses will be diverted during working hours as follows:

Phase 1 – Junction of Cemetery Rd & Fishergate – Services 7 and 415 – Inbound via Heslington Lane, University Rd, Heslington Rd, Kent St. Outbound via Kent Street, Heslington Rd, University Rd, Heslington Lane.

Phase 2 – Fishergate closed between Cemetery Rd and Fawcett St – Services 7 and 415 – Inbound via Cemetery Rd, Kent Street, Fawcett St. Outbound via Paragon St, Fawcett St, Kent St, Cemetery Rd.

Phase 3 – Fawcett Street closed between Kent Street and Fishergate – Services 7 and 415- normal route inbound. Outbound via Kent Street, Cemetery Rd. Services 66/N66 – inbound via Cemetery Rd, Fishergate. Outbound via normal route.

The Wigginton Road works will start Monday 9 March and will take around two weeks to complete (weather permitting), working between 8pm till 5am, Monday to Friday.

In order to carry out these works safely the use of a temporary road closure from the roundabout at A1237 to the traffic light junction at Mill Lane will be necessary. A clearly signed diversion route will be set out for through traffic.

During both schemes, site staff will be on hand to advise and assist residents about the access restrictions once the works are ongoing.

Any specific access requirements maybe arranged by speaking to the Site Traffic Management Operatives or the Engineer who will co-ordinate with residents and business requirements around ongoing construction operations.

Emergency services will be permitted at all times. Cyclists will have to dismount and use the footways.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience to the public, however the contractor will try at all times to keep any disruption to a minimum.

To keep up-to-date with the latest road works in York visit www.york.gov.uk/roadworks or follow @York_Travel on social media.

Residents can contact Murtaza Khaliq, site supervisor, on 07880 505375, if they have any concerns during the works, particularly if this is related to noise issues.

The Mount road works restart tomorrow

Scheme to be completed in January

Works at the junction of The Mount and Scarcroft Road will resume from Monday 6 January 2020, and are expected to last for up to 4 weeks.

This follows works in October to improve the junction of The Mount, Dalton Terrace and Albemarle Road, and also the junction of The Mount and Scarcroft Road.

The roadworks took longer than planned, so City of York Council is coming back to complete the final stage to refurbish and replace the traffic signals in January. This is to avoid any disruption on the run up to and during the Christmas period. 

Works will take place Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm and weekends 8am to 4pm. www.york.gov.uk/TheMount

This final stage is estimated to take no more than four weeks to complete.

Traffic management will be in place at the junction during the works and motorists are expected to experience some delays while the works are underway.

They are asked to plan their journey carefully and leave additional time if passing through the area. It is not anticipated that there will be any diversions or suspensions to bus services or stops, however, to allow construction to take place the inbound bus lane will be suspended during the works.  It will be also be necessary to suspend some of the on street parking on the cobbles on The Mount during the works and this will be advertised separately.

Controlled pedestrian crossings will be provided during construction to allow pedestrians to cross the road safely.  There will be some temporary footway closures in place to allow works to be undertaken, however, full access will be retained to all businesses and properties during construction. 

For more information visit: www.york.gov.uk/TheMount 

Stonegate carriageway repaving work will last for 4 months.

£500,000 scheme takes up significant proportion of this years highways resurfacing budget

Stonegate

For the first time in a generation, City of York Council is completely repaving Stonegate.

Over the years the council has replaced damaged or worn paving stones but is now investing around £500,000 to fully repave the entire length of Stonegate, with natural Yorkstone paving and concrete foundations.

Over time there has been significant defects in the surface of the road, where paving slabs are broken and uneven, which make it unsafe for pedestrians.

The scheme will enhance the street’s appearance and character, creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment, attracting more people into the area and improving access for pedestrians.

The works will be split into four phases with each phase taking around four weeks to complete and will start from Monday 6 January until Friday 3 April.

It’s estimated that a scheme of this size would normally take around four months to complete. The council will aim to do as much work as possible (weather permitting) before the Easter break, when work will stop.

Over 20 retailers and businesses fed back at a session in November to say they would prefer the council to carry out this scheme in the quieter months of January to March.

This feedback has all been taken on board and works will stop before the Easter holidays start and the council will come back in early 2021 to fully complete the scheme (around an additional four weeks) – if the council is unable to complete the works beforehand.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said: “Stonegate is steeped in history and was one of the first paved-roads in York, which was a direct route to transport the Minster stone whist it was being built. It’s one of the most loved streets in our city centre so this investment will ensure the street keeps its special character.”

Although loved for its paving, Stonegate wasn’t always a paved-road. Photographs sourced from the Explore York Archives show Stonegate’s surface was made up of sets/cobbles in the 1890s and in the 1940s was a tarmac surface.

The high cost of resurfacing this, relatively modest, length of road highlights just how inadequate the Councils highway maintenance budgets are.

Stonegate resurfacing – Frequently asked questions

Potholes report confirms York has a major problem and it is getting worse

A report on highway maintenance in the City reveals that the value of the current back log of maintenance is approximately one hundred and twelve million (£112 million) based on the current condition and cost of repairs.

The figure confirms what many residents had feared. The condition of York’s roads and footpaths is continuing to decline

A separate annex reveals that, in most parts of the City, between 3% and 10% of carriageways are rated as “structurally impaired”. These are “very poor”, the lowest condition rating.

The percentage of roads classified as “very poor” has increased in every ward in the City during the last 3 years.

The figures also confirm that the City’s roads have not recovered from the draconian maintenance cuts imposed by the then Labour administration in 2012.

More recently the new LibDem/Green led Council has substantially increased the resources allocated to highway maintenance.

 The figure also includes a delegated budget to be determined at ward level. There is little evidence that this money has so far been invested*.

The report says that from 1st April 2019 until 26th November 2019, the council has completed “16,646.3 m² of pothole repairs, this equates to 520 m² per week, this is 29.71 m² per day, per gang”.

This can be compared with the same period in 2018 when the council completed “7,586.4 m² of pothole repairs, this equates to 237 m² per week, with training etc. that was 18.9 m² per gang, per day”

Some of the parties vying for votes at the General Election are promising to fill in all potholes. Government funding has been consistently low in recent years.

We doubt that central government appreciates the scale of the backlog in maintenance work which currently exists

*Each ward also has a share of a £500,000 fund earmarked for improvements for “cyclists and pedestrians”. So far suggestions from residents for the use of this fund – for example to reduce ponding problems on routes across amenity areas – have produced little positive response from officials

Too many potholed roads in York.

The York Council is being urged to get on with patching works on roads which are already damaged. Failure to act soon could result in the surfaces breaking up as frost takes its toll.

Kingswood Grove
Uneven carriageway on Queenswood Grove

The Council are making good progress on the large resurfacing job on Gale Lane which should be finished by the end of the week