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Evasion or ignorance?

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The calibre of elected representatives can often be revealed by the quality of answers that they give when questioned on Council affairs. None more so than the well paid members of the Council’s “Cabinet” who are required to respond, to back-bench Councillor’s questions at the quarterly council meetings. These questions are tabled in advance of the meeting so there is little excuse for not knowing the facts.

Last Thursday was a case in point when this little exchange took place (see right).

There were a lot of well publicised problems with the Christmas “Grotto” that the Council arranged to be placed in Exhibition Square last year. Some customers were dissatisfied with the experience. Some staff were also disgruntled.

It seems reasonable therefore that residents should be told how much rent income has actually been received from the organisers of the event? Equally one might have expected some thought to have been given to what might be staged next Christmas?

Council members should remember that information can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. They have little to gain by prevarication …… other than to raise suspicions that they are trying to cover up some sort of unpalatable fact.

New parking restrictions proposed in Westfield part of York

Traffic orders are being advertised which would see new parking restrictions imposed on some roads in the Westfield Ward. Several of these respond to resident requests dating back nearly 2 years.

The Council rather famously “ran out of yellow paint” during the last financial year following budget problems, so the delays to considering new requests were inevitable.

Details of the proposals can be found here:

It was agreed by the Council to advertise the Traffic Regulation Orders required to introduction restrictions in St Stephen’s Mews/The Green, Gladstone Street, Kingsway West, 4-12 Grange Lane (Turning Head), Grange Lane and Askham Grove/Askham Lane. If there are no objections raised approval was granted to implement the Traffic Regulation Order.

The streets that were considered for changes were:

1. St Stephen’s Mews/The Green – Agreed junction protection and protection of one side of the carriageway until private parking areas reached.

ST Stephens Mews

2. Clay Place – after consideration it was agreed to take no action at this time but to monitor the situation.

Clay Place

3. Hamilton Drive West – Agreed to No further action.

Hamilton Drive

4. Middleton Road – Agreed to No further action.

Middleton Road

5. Gladstone Street – Agreed for Officer to check the dropped kerb situation near the raised table and introduce any necessary safety measures.

Gladstone Street

6. Kingsway West – Agreed to proposed 10 m extension of waiting restrictions.

click to enlarge Kingsway West

7. 4-12 Grange Lane-Turning Head – Agreed to propose No waiting at Any time. White bar markings to be provided for Number 8 and Number 10 Grange Lane.
8. Grange Lane – after careful deliberation, it was agreed to advertise the proposed No Waiting at Any Time to give better access to driveway access and proposed No Waiting restrictions for turning head and access. It was also agreed to advertise No Stopping on Grass verges restrictions outside Westfield Primary Community School – subject to agreement by the Ward Councillors.

Grange Lane 1

Grange Lane 2

9. Askham Grove/Askham Lane – after discussion agreed to advertise proposed junction protection 10m on opposite the junction on Askham Lane.

Askham Grove

Beckfield Lane Cabinet debate set for next Tuesday?

It looks like initial consideration of a proposal to save the Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre may take place as early as next Tuesday.

We understand that an urgent item is being added to the agenda of the Cabinet meeting which is scheduled to take place on 3rd April starting at 5:30pm.

The meeting has been switched from its traditional Guildhall venue to Fulford School, Fulfordgate, Heslington Road, Fulford . The remote venue, and short notice, will make it difficult for any residents wishing to make a representation to do so.

Registrations to speak on this item have been extended until 12 noon on Tuesday 3 April. Residents wishing to speak should contact Democracy Officer: Jill Pickering Contact details: Telephone – (01904) 552061 E-mail –

An addendum in the following terms has been added to the agenda in the last couple of hours.

“Urgent Item: Beckfield Lane Household Recycling Centre
The motion to Council, on 29 March 2012, from Cllr Reid requesting a halt to the closure plan for the Beckfield Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre has been referred as an urgent item for consideration at this meeting. An officer report on the associated implications is being prepared”.

The full agenda and supporting reports for the meeting can be found here

The meeting may also have a copy of the paper petition available for consideration. The Epetition has until 11th April to run.

If the vote at the meeting goes against keeping the recycling centre open then the item can be “called in” for discussion at an all party scrutiny committee.

Answers to Council questions. Click to enlarge

Whatever happens, there will still be a discussion on the issue at a future full council meeting as the petition signature numbers now trigger an automatic debate.

Meanwhile, the answers given by the Council Leadership to questions about the Beckfield Lane situation have been published (right). They give little optimism about the commitment of the Council Leadership on resident consultation or their willingness to listen to alternative views.

Beckfield Lane petition set to be snubbed by Council Leader?

The 2700 signature petition aimed at keeping the Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre open was handed in to last night’s Council meeting. Councillors had been lobbied by local residents as they arrived for the meeting (right).

Presenting the petition Liberal Democrat Councillor Ann Reid said,
“Beckfield Lane Household Waste and Recycling Centre is a well used facility in Acomb Ward which serves the needs of the west of the city”
The petition has been signed by residents from across the whole of the west of the city, many from the villages of Rural West such as Poppleton, Rufforth and Copmanthorpe. Not surprisingly the bulk of the support has come from the Acomb, Westfield and Holgate Wards but it has also been signed by residents from Micklegate, Fishergate, Guildhall and Clifton.
Closure of the site will force residents to drive much further, many through the City Centre, in order to dispose of their waste all adding to poor air quality and traffic congestion. Yes, there is a small minority who will cycle but that is not feasible for most of the waste that is currently taken to Beckfield Lane. Many won’t even bother to drive to Hazel Court and will either put waste into their grey bin or, even worse, fly tip. Both of those will decrease the amount recycled, some thing that increased under our administration. Increasing recycling was indentified in your (Labour) budget to achieve your savings target.
I would have assumed that in the run up to the budget Labour would have received all the financial information needed, including the cost of maintaining and, if necessary, improving Beckfield Lane and we could be having a debate tonight. If that is not to be the case then, taking into account the support for the site from residents, at the very least the closure of Beckfield Lane should be postponed until Council is able to debate it.
I also call on the Leader not to start any property sale until the final decision is made”.

Later in the meeting a Motion proposed by Cllr Reid to keep the centre open was referred for Cabinet consideration without a debate.

As the numbers of residents petitioning the council has passed both the Epetition and paper thresholds, it is now required by its constitution to consider the issue formally.

This means that the timetable could now look something like this:
• 4th April – Scheduled “Cabinet” meeting (Beckfield Lane may be added to the agenda as an “urgent” item)
• 12th April – Last date to sign the Epetition on Council web site
• 16th April – Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre scheduled to close
• 15th May – Earliest the “Cabinet” is likely to discuss the issue
• 19th July – Next scheduled Council meeting

In reality it is only the Council leadership who are resisting at least a stay of execution for the site. Some Councillors have indicated that they are prepared to attend a special Council meeting to discuss the issue.
Lobbying is likely to intensify over the next couple of weeks.

Residents also have until 12th April to add their support to the petition on the Councils web site (although it will not be available over the weekend because of scheduled “downtime”)

Beckfield Lane already has, by a margin, the largest number of supporters for an Epetition ever collected via the York Council web site.

The Micklegate Singers Chapter House Concert Sat – 31 Mar 2012 20:00 to 22:00

The latest concert by The Micklegate Singers celebrates love in all its variety, with a programme of 20th and 21st century music including Paul Mealor’s anthem for the Royal Wedding. The concert also features stunning pieces by Swingle, Whitacre, Grainger and Buchenberg, folk tunes and even Gregorian chants.

Tickets are £10 or £6 for concessions and can be bought on the door or in advance from the Minster Box Office.

Held in the gorgeous Chapter House of York Minster, it promises to be a romantic, atmospheric evening for both visitors to York and lovers of choral music.

Prices Adults: £10 Concessions: £6 Contact Joanne Wozencroft Tel: 07786183601

Bin delivery information

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Following problems with controlling the Councils budget, the delivery of replacement wheeled bins was suspended a few months ago. The Council has now issued the following statement which indicates that replacements will start to be delivered at the beginning of the new financial year.

“Bin and recycling container orders
Over winter we were unable to deliver some of the recycling containers and wheeled bins that residents requested.
If you ordered a container between 9 December 2011 and 31 March 2012, and have not yet received it, you will receive your replacement bins/recycling containers after 2 April.
Please note that we received a large number of requests during this time, so we expect to complete all of these outstanding deliveries by 8 June.
When will I receive my container?
We will work through the outstanding requests in areas as shown in the table below. We have a dedicated vehicle and crew delivering containers during this time.
If you requested a container between 9 December and 31 March please check which area you live in. We will deliver in that area during the 2 weeks shown
If you don’t receive your container(s) in the first week we will deliver it in the second week
This is the most efficient way of working through all outstanding requests and making sure everyone gets their container(s) as soon as possible.
Please note that we will be delivering containers Monday to Friday during the weeks listed in the table.
We are unable to answer individual enquiries about when containers will be delivered, but will work as quickly as possible to deliver your container(s).
Please let us know if you no longer need a container which has been requested.
Thank you for your continued patience with this.
If you order a new/replacement container after 2 April we will make every effort to deliver this before your next scheduled collection date”.

However residents living in terraced properties still won’t be getting their free delivery of refuse sacks. Many are signing the on line petition asking for the service to be reinstated.

Others have vowed to request the provision of a wheeled bin. If a lot of residents do this – and they are entitled to the free provision of a waste container – then the council budget is likely to drift into a crisis again.


Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for City Strategy, Cllr Keith Hyman has today criticised City of York Council’s Labour Cabinet recent decision to make the 22 FTR conductors redundant as a result of the decision to replace the FTR ‘superbuses’ with more single and double-deckers.

Cllr Hyman said “Although the FTR buses divided opinion in York, I don’t think anybody thought the conductors were doing a bad job. Many residents have told me that in their experience the conductors were courteous, helpful and prevented rowdy behaviour at the back of buses. James Alexander talks a lot about employment in York but this decision shows that he prefers a cheap headline to safeguarding the jobs of hard-working local people.”

The Liberal Democrat Group is now calling on Cllr James Alexander, York’s Labour Leader to keep conductors on double-deckers using his £1 million delivery and innovation fund.

Not so smart red face as Council Leader flunks IT test?

The York Council Leader has rather proudly announced the launch of an “app” for smart phones.

In a media release he urges residents to go to the web site

Fat chance. That web address doesn’t even exist!

In a spirit of helpfulness we can tell residents that the actual web site address is

Whether the cost of developing this new reporting tool can be justified is another matter. The top priority for the Council should be to stop environmental vandalism (Graffiti, fly-tipping etc) in the first place. A quick and efficient clean up is also necessary, but there is little evidence to suggest that York residents are failing to do this using “old fashioned” communications methods such as the telephone, Email or via the Councils web site.

Still, Iphone at the ready, we’ll be trying the new system out over the next few weeks.

NB. This hiccup comes a few days after residents started receiving their Council Tax bills. The explanatory leaflet issued with the demand assured residents that the Councils gross expenditure for the forthcoming year would be a world record beating “£354,937,000,000”.
The equivalent expenditure agreed by the LIbDem Council for 11/12 was, a quite parsimonious, £341,644,000!