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New benefits system causing problems in York

Councillors will receive on update on the financial support and welfare benefit activities being offered to residents at a meeting on Thursday.

A copy of the report can be read by clicking here

At the meeting, the Executive will be asked to note the update which highlights the range of work undertaken to support those across the city  in need of financial help. Councillors will also be asked to approve an action plan, which has been developed following recommendations from a recent financial inclusion scrutiny review.

In the 2018/19 financial year the York Financial Assistance Scheme spent £228,341 providing direct help to residents in financial difficulty due to exceptional circumstances.

In addition, nine projects, delivered by partner organisations, were awarded grants totalling £166,358 to target help and support to those that need it most.  These ranged from funding Citizens Advice York for their specialist debt support service to working with those over 50 to improve their prospects of employment to placing advice services in community venues and GP surgeries making them easier to access for residents. 

The report also recognises the positive impact of various community projects. These include the continued success of the Chapelfields Community Hub which has just celebrated its second birthday. Also, ‘cooking on a budget’ courses have been delivered in Clifton, Haxby Road, Bell Farm, Tang Hall and Chapelfields. These have been used to encourage low cost healthy eating and as a gateway into other opportunities.

As well as this, the council is continuing to work with Advice York and other partners to promote the council tax support scheme.  The online application process has been made easier and residents can be considered for both council tax support and discretionary housing payments through a single form.  In addition, information events have taken place to promote the council tax support scheme to older people.

“Residents wanting to find out more about financial assistance in York can visit www.york.gov.uk/Benefits.”

York Council promises action on verges and weed growth

A confidential internal memo has been circulated to Councillors reacting to criticism of verge maintenance standards.

It also claims that the weed treatment programme is being brought forward.

Weed control programme brought forward

A senior official says that verges are cut on 10 occasions each year between March and September. He goes on to say “as the rate of grass growth has slowed down, we are now starting to see improvements in the standard of cut, which will continue to improve as we undertake further cuts”.

Verges in the Foxwood Lane area have been subject to criticism, with one experienced local professional gardener saying that the edges are now so overgrown that they will need to be cut with a rotary cutter or strimmed if they are to recover their appearance.

On weeds, the Council says that they are treated in May/June, July/August & Sept/Oct. with a non-residual weed killer.

Weeds on back lanes will be cut promises Council

“This results in the ‘killing’ of all weeds that are growing at the time of treatment but any that germinate after the spray has passed will continue to grow until the next treatment later in the summer”.

“We are all aware of the issues regarding the amount of weeds visible in certain parts of the city, as previously stated this is due to the weather earlier in the year, we have worked with our contractor on a number of ways to improve the situation, as detailed below:

Our contractor has deployed additional resources at their cost.

We brought the commencement of the second treatment forward.

Our staff were deployed last week to start to strim and remove the very large weeds from the back lanes, as these would look unsightly even when dead”

The Council also says that the first cut of the Bar Walls – during in June – has not taken place because specialist equipment (supplied from Germany) has not yet arrived in the City

There has been no official comment from Executive Councillors about the poor standards evident in some parts of the City.

However one Independent Councillor – Mark Warters from Osbaldwick – Is understood to have told officials that a more professional approach to weed control is needed in the city. He says that the service should be brought back “in house”. Like many other residents, he believes that the weed killer used earlier in the year may have been washed off by rain before it had taken effect.

Hedges have been trimmed back form public footpaths

There is one piece of good news to report though, with several householders having cut back hedges from public footpaths over the weekend. This has reduced the number of obstructions on several streets.

Big sports weekend

Bi match for local Rugby League side Acorn yesterday. They beat off a challenge from Pilkington to continue their bid for the NCL1 title.
Acomb cricket club were also in action yesterday. Idyllic surroundings at their ground on The Green. The first XI lie in second place in the league
More informal leisure on the generally well maintained Acomb Green

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward. 

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference 

—-

Lincoln Court Ascot Way York YO24 4RA

Conditions 3 (materials) and 10 (audible plant) of 19/00083/FULM 

Ref. No: AOD/19/00227 

——-

15 Kingsthorpe York YO24 4PR

Single storey side and rear extensions 

Ref. No: 19/01318/FUL 

178 Foxwood Lane York YO24 3LT

Erection of single storey extension extending 4.05 metres beyond the rear wall of the original house, with a height to the eaves of 2.54 metres and a total height of 2.77 metres. 

Ref. No: 19/01353/LHE 

——

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

York Council has a plan

The new leaders of the York Council say they will publish a new “Council Plan” in the autumn.

This will be preceded by public consultation.

The Council’s Executive will hear on Thursday that they intend to concentrate resources on a list of challenges. These are:

a. Good Health and Wellbeing

b. Well-paid jobs and an inclusive economy

c. Getting around sustainably

d. A Better Start for Children and Young People

e. A Greener and Cleaner City

f. Building homes and World-class infrastructure g. Safe Communities and culture for all

h. An open and effective Council

So, in effect, everything will be a priority!

The electorate told Councillors in May that the top priority should to get basic street level services back up to decent standards.

That means that performance on key services needs to be monitored regularly and publicly published.

The Council needs to concentrate on its core responsibilities. Those that affect most residents are:

  1. Road repairs
  2. Footpath repairs
  3. Litter/Fly tipping prevention
  4. Weed control
  5. Poop scoop/ litter/ salt bins
  6. Hedge/tree maintenance
  7. Street cleaning
  8. Amenity & garage area maintenance
  9. Reducing Dog Fouling
  10. Improving Policing visibility
  11. Car parking
  12. Grass cutting (e.g. verges and open spaces)
  13. Recycling
  14. Street lighting
  15. Schools
  16. Refuse collection
  17. Bus service improvements

To this list should be a commitment to openness and a drive to devolve power to local communities

The Council should concentrate on getting these service right before being tempted to roll out “beer and skittles” prestige projects.

New interpretation board unveiled in Foxwood

One of Foxwood’s oldest residents Reg Turver has unveiled a new interpretation board on Foresters Walk today.

When a boy Reg, now 97,  used to help to bring the hunt horses from Clifton to  Kennel (now Foxwood) Lane

 The interpretation board charts the life of the kennels which were built at the beginning of the 20th century and were finally demolished in 1973.

The board was funded by the Foxwood Local History Group, a voluntary organisation which is part of the Foxwood Residents Association. Foxwood RA chair Shirley Gumley assisted Reg at the unveiling.

The Foxwood Local History Group (FLHG) secretary Sue Galloway says, “York city centre is the focus for visitors seeking to learn about York’s history, Our aim is to encourage visitors to spread their wings and discover more about the history of the surrounding area

The Foxwood Local History Group was formed 3 years ago to record 20th century history of the Foxwood area. 

So far we have erected 3 interpretation boards in the area. one details the history of CHESNEY Fields. another details the life of Air Vice Marshall DICKSON. A local park has been named after him.

The latest board details the history of the former York and Ainsty Hunt kennels.

Each of these boards cost OVER £1500 . All our funding is raised  locally.

We are now working on an online book to record information uncovered during our research. 

If you have any memories of the area you’d like to share with us please contact us on York 794111”.

The FLHG meets on an informal basis at Foxwood CC and more details can be found on our Facebook page Foxwoodlocalhistorygp

Weather prompting rapid growth in gardens

Good and bad consequences

Several hedges are now obstructing public footpaths. Worse some thorn hedges have produced branches at eye height. These represent a hazard for pedestrians. Hopefully all homeowners will check that their boundary hedges are trimmed. We’ve reported the hedge at the side of the “ravine” on Otterwood Lane which is obstructing the footpath (Council responsibility to cut)

Council are getting to grip with maintenance work on open spaces




York Central – where next?

Following the recent decision by the Secretary of State not to call in the planning decision for York Central , City of York Council says it will “now continue to maintain momentum across the York Central site with the decision to release the next tranche of funding for the project”.

“The Council will now engage with its construction partner in finalising the design work for the enabling infrastructure; this includes the access road bridge and spine road through the site, a pedestrian bridge on Water End and a rail link to the NRM”.

There is no mention of addressing the “elephant in the room”. That is the major outstanding issue. – cycle/pedestrian movement from Leeman Road to the riverside and the City centre

The early plan showed a shared cycle track still using the (appalling) Marble Arch tunnel (which still has no waterproof membrane). Vehicle movements would be traffic light controlled, with public transport one of the main victims

This simply won’t do.

The Council needs to find an alternative route possibly via a new tunnel built to modern standards which provides access to the green spaces next to the river while also providing a traffic free cycle link to the City centre and beyond.

Te Council must address this issue in its imminent submission of a Reserved Matters planning application to open up the site.

The planning application will be funded partly by Homes England and partly from the York Central Capital budget agreed by Council in November 2018.

A report to the Councils Executive next week also sets out what opportunities can be taken, moving forward, to maximise the benefits of the York Central site; including a greater proportion of affordable homes, higher sustainable build standards, inclusion of York Central in the Clean Air Zone and an option to build a new bus lane ahead of schedule.

A report, published today, sets out the key benefits already secured, including:

·         extensive pedestrian and cycle route provision into and through the site

·         20% of homes available at affordable rates,

·         the highest sustainable design standards , and

·         around £15m developer contributions to improve transport infrastructure to encourage more bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The report outlines that the council, while waiting for government decisions on planning and funding, will work with the York Central partnership to explore other measures to amplify these benefits.

For housing, this could mean a greater proportion of affordable homes, higher sustainable build standards and community self-build in early phases of the development.

To improve the environmental impact, the council could require sustainable energy generation on site, include York Central in the bus Clean Air Zone, increase the number of electric charging points and build a new bus lane ahead of schedule to increase more journeys by sustainable transport.

The report highlights the delays to the programme due to the referral of the planning decision to the Secretary of State, and the decision over an application for £77.1m to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. The report asks the council to allocate £750,000 to fund early contractor involvement to finalise a planning application for the bridge and spine road which will allow access to the site from Water End.


The York Central Partnership (YCP) members, Homes England, Network Rail, The Railway Museum and City of York Council, have been working collaboratively for the past four years to develop proposals and assemble a £155m funding package for infrastructure works to unlock the brownfield land. City of York’s Council has played a key role in providing significant funding streams to help deliver the project and fund the enabling access and infrastructure works.

York Central

The approved outline planning application includes proposals to build 2,500 homes, 20 per cent of which will be affordable, and a commercial quarter creating up to 6,500 jobs adding a £1.16 billion boost to the economy.

The Executive meeting takes place on 18th July. The York Central report can be found by clicking here.