Local Plan – York Council orders changes

Community Stadium gets final ”go ahead”

LibDem Euro MP Edward McMillan Scott with Westfield residents last year

LibDem Euro MP Edward McMillan Scott with Westfield residents last year

Opposition parties at last nights Council meeting flexed their muscles for the first time and rejected Labours “Big City” Draft Local Plan

The decision came shortly after 2 further Labour Councillors had defected leaving James Alexander’s residual group without a majority.

The highly controversial draft Local Plan had proposed to build 17,000 new homes mainly on Green Belt land.

It envisaged a population increase in the City of 40,000 over the next 15 years.

Now, following a successful intervention by Liberal Democrat Councillor Ann Reid, those figures will be re-examined at a special meeting which will be held in November.

The meeting will take place after the Westfield by election and will be a major boost for those seeking to conserve areas like Acomb Moor.

NB. The Community stadium scheme was given the final go ahead at the same meeting last night

Labour go ahead with threat to end meals for elderly

Lunch off menu at Gale Farm Court

Westfield Residents have lost out again from cavalier council.

Meals at sheltered housing in Gale Farm Court were axed by the council on 1st October despite protests by residents that the council had not given time for alternatives to be worked through.

Gale Farm Court

Gale Farm Court

Residents had been led to believe that the council was sorting out a better contract for the meals – but on 3rd September a letter was sent by the council to say that the meals were being stopped on 1st October

Residents do not have kitchens – indeed residents took on their flats on the understanding that they would have communal meal arrangements.

The letter had followed months of consultation where residents were led to believe that the council was simply sorting out a better provider- following complaints about the quality and unreliability of orders. The Council leader James Alexander had been approached in February at the “Westfield Community Conversation” event and had claimed that he wanted to sort the problem out!

Andrew Waller has been working with residents and companies who want to provide a service which means that residents don’t need to eat in isolation in their own flats. On behalf of the residents he wrote to Cabinet Councillor Lindsey Cunningham Cross to request that the old system continued until there had been a new one developed – in response she said that she would not comment on whether the scheme would or would not cease on 1st October…. until the 16th October.

Residents found out the hard way that the council was not going to budge.

Some taster sessions have been run by companies who want to bid for the work, but these have taken place after the council had stopped the communal meals. Andrew will be pressing with residents that a sustainable solution is brought forward.

Andrew said “The treatment of the residents of Gale Farm Court has been shocking. The axing of the service came out of the blue, and it seemed like the council had already written off the prospect of a replacement even before they sent out the letters at the beginning of September. I know that Cllr Lynn Jeffries had been working with the residents for months to get better meals.

Residents in council sheltered schemes deserve to be treated with respect by the council. They should have worked to provide a new solution before axing the old. It seems that the council is saying that it is trying to tackle social isolation in the area .. but actually does the opposite in practise. I am pleased that the residents have not taken this lying down, and have been pressing for a solution that they are able to choose a solution”.

Decisions affecting traffic in every part of the City taken in private session by Labour Councillor

Traffic and parking decisions nodded through at behind closed doors session.

Behind closed doors logo

The man responsible for the secrecy was Labour Councillor David Levene.

Over 50 proposals for changes to parking restrictions and other local traffic management measures were decided last week.

Residents had no opportunity to influence the decisions with papers only being published on the Councils web site AFTER the meeting had concluded.

Labour Councillors representing areas like Westfield  failed to make any representations  on the plans which potentially affect dozens of local residents and hundreds of drivers.

This is the kind of secrecy and indifference that should disappear when Labour lose the Westfield by election and with it their Council majority.

The background reports can be read by clicking these links

Acomb

Bishopthorpe

Clifton

Dringhouses and Woodthorpe

Fishergate

Guildhall

Haxby

Heslington

Heworth

Heworth Without

Holgate

Hull Road

Huntington

Micklegate

Osbaldwick

Skelton Rawcliffe Clifton Without

Strensall

Westfield

Wheldrake

Newbury Avenue development update

A Council planning committee will decide on Wednesday whether to give the go ahead for the development of the Newbury Avenue garage site.

click to access

click to access

The scheme has been heavily criticised for reducing still further the amount of off street parking available in an area which has a high proportion of flats.

The plan involves demolishing 28 garages.

The Council has refused to provide more parking lay-bys or to reinvigorate the dropped kerb programme to make more spaces available.

Last week – in a behind closed doors decision – they refused to act on parking problems being experienced outside the Carlton House  flats on Windsor Garth

Instead they have directed people who rent garages to other blocks some as far away as Foxwood. A waiting list for these garages is now building up and parking problems are becoming acute.

Now the published plans suggest that the scheme designers have failed to recognize the need for a secure boundary between the new buildings and Hob Moor. It is 25 years since the Council recognised that – to keep down crime levels as well as preserve the Hob Moor nature reserve – robust railings were need on the boundary. This lesson seems to have been forgotten.

The Council admits, “That the site is contaminated and that it lies near to a closed landfill site”

The scheme design is an improvement on what was originally proposed but many residents will feel that these 9 flats -when taken together with the 55 homes being built on the nearby Our Lady’s school site – represent an overdevelopment.

Damage to roads in the area is the first tangible sign of an accelerated decline in public service standards in the area.

Residents who wish to address the meeting (which starts at 2:00pm) may do so by telephoning (01904) 551031 or by Email to –louise.cook@york.gov.uk /catherine.clarke@york.gov.uk

The committee is expected to visit the site on Tuesday 7th October arriving at Newbury Avenue at 10:15am.

Foxwood benches restored on Chesneys Field

photo

The public seats – sponsored by the Foxwood Residents Association – have been restored to Chesneys Field today

They had been tipped up by vandals but it is hoped that more secure fixings will reduce this vulnerability in the future.

Anyone witnessing vandalism in this – or other – area is urged to report the  matter to the Police.

 

 

No speed surveys undertaken in West York

 

The Council has confirmed that no checks on vehicle speeds in West York have been undertaken since the controversial 20 mph speed limit signs were put up.

The lack of monitoring is likely to be raised at the council meeting taking place on 9th October.

It seems strange that, having spent £600,000 on new signs ,the Council has n’tbothered to check whether they have had any effect on driver behaviour

The revelation comes as yet another anomaly with the 20 mph signing has been found.

Drivers coming down Green Lane towards the roundabout are told that the speed limit on one side of the road is 20 mph while on the other it is 30 mph!

Green Lane speed signs 2

Hamilton Drive resurfacing delayed until 27th October

Road closure - click to enlarge

Road closure – click to enlarge

Road to be closed

City of York Council is to reconstruct Hamilton Drive carriageway starting on the 27th October 2014.

This is 3 weeks later than originally planned

The works are programmed to take one week to complete, working Monday to Friday between 09.30am and 5.00pm. The area affected is shown on the plan.

The Council says “To carry out the works safely, the road closure will be in place from 09:30 to 17:00 Monday to Friday, with some accommodation works taking place outside of these times.

Due to the nature of the works and the deep excavations taking place, it will not always be possible for residents to gain vehicular access to their properties. In these circumstances residents should be prepared to use alternative parking.

Pedestrian access will be available at all times. Cyclists will have to dismount and use the footways when travelling through the affected areas”.

Labour Council first to fail ‘value for money’ test

External auditors have offered only a “qualified” judgement on Labour run York Council’s 2013/14 accounts due to failings in adult social care.

Lowfields care village - 3 years behind schedule

Lowfields care village – 3 years behind schedule

At last night’s meeting of the council’s Audit & Governance Committee it was confirmed that auditors Mazars would only offer a “qualified” judgement on the council’s accounts, specifically their ‘Value for Money’ assessment.

A report presented to the committee said there were “weaknesses in budgetary control and financial management in Adult Social Care services….a lack of understanding and ownership of budgets….and performance information was limited”.

It said “during 2013/14 the service did not demonstrate an ability to address the issues that it faced” and financial arrangements in place were “not strong enough”.

The final announcement comes in the wake of serious delays in a  number of social care projects.

Key amongst these are plans to construct a state of the art centre on the Lowfields school site which would have made the service more efficient.

The project is 3 years behind scheduled and Labour Councillors have refused to reveal why, although no formal contract for the facility has yet been advertised for tender.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and a member of the Audit & Governance Committee, commented:

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Andrew Waller takes action to deal with footpath hazard

Andrew Waller tackles hedge

Andrew Waller tackles hedge

BEFORE - Hedge blocking Askham Lane

BEFORE – Hedge blocking Askham Lane

AFTER - bus shelter revealed

AFTER – bus shelter revealed

 

The bush blocking the Askham Lane footpath has been cut back by Andrew Waller and a team of volunteers.

The path had been blocked by the overgrown hedge for a couple of weeks forcing pedestrians to walk in the road.

The bush also potentially could have damaged passing vehicles.

The overgrown hedge has been reported to the Council several times during the summer with passengers, waiting in the shelter, complaining that they could not see buses approaching

The hedge still needs cutting back further with specialist equipment and we hope that the Council will do that and treat the nettles – which make access to the shelter difficult for elderly people – as quickly as possible.

Changes to the 13a Acomb bus service

The Council has announced that the 13A bus service – which provides a link from Tudor Road, Front Street and Green Lane to the City centre via Holly Bank – may be scrapped.bus-stop1

The service was only introduced about 12 months ago and had been criticised by residents in Tudor Road for only providing a one way link to essential services in the Front Street area.

There was no prior consultation with passengers about the threat to end the service.

We understand that, from Monday 29 September, the 13a Acomb to York bus service will be subsidised by the York Council.

Ominously the Council also says

“The council is currently in the process of reviewing its portfolio of subsidised bus services in order to deliver significant savings in this area for 2015/16, which was agreed at the Budget Council in February.

A consultation on all bus services in York will start soon and more details will follow shortly. However, until this review has been finalised, the council will continue to subsidies the 13a until it considers where savings need to be made across the city”.

The move followed a decision by First York to review the operation of the hourly 13a bus service to Acomb due to low usage.

First apparently claim that there are insufficient numbers  to run the 13a service on a commercial basis.

The council has agreed to continue financing the operation of this service, at around £1,000 per week from the council’s transport budget. This will provide a 13a service for customers operated by First on behalf of the council.

We think that another operator would be able to provide the service for a much lower subsidy and would expect the Council to advertise the contract quickly and take the opportunity to address the concerns of Tudor Road residents.

From Monday the majority of the 13a service will operate as per the current timetable although the following journeys will no longer be in operation:

  • 7.15am: Acomb – York Station
  • 7.54am: York Station – Acomb
  • 4.57pm: Acomb – York Station
  • 5.36: York Station – Acomb
  • 6pm: Acomb – York Station

Previous 13a journeys between York & Haxby will continue to be operated by First but will be renumbered 13.

For further information on bus service changes and for bus timetables, visit www.itravelyork.info/buses, call 01904 551400 or visit the Bus Information Point in the Travel Centre at York Station.