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Crime in Westfield and Woodthorpe down

Westfield and Woodthorpe crime figures

Scare stories by some Labour politicians about crime levels are questionable at least in the west of York. Here crime levels are still reducing and are about average when compared to the country as a whole.
Obviously no one should be complacent. The absence of Community Ranger patrols may affect the figures and usually there is a blip in anti social behaviour during the school holidays.
The Council will need to ensure that areas are secure. For example, we found recently that the entrance chain, which helped to stop unauthorised vehicles and motor cyclists entering the Cornlands Road Park, had disappeared.

Cornlands Road park entrance.

Residents can now access crime figures for their street and neighbourhood via the following web site
Similar a recent press story highlighted relatively high levels of complaints about noise from some local streets. These included St Stephens Road, Thoresby Road, and Windsor Garth. All, of course, contain a large number of flats that were built around 50 years ago. Sound insulation standards at that time were not designed to meet modern demands.
The Councils noise nuisance service generally does a good job. You can complain about noise on Friday and Saturday nights, between 9.00pm and 3.00am, by telephoning the Noise Patrol service on tel: (01904) 551555.

Taxi changes

Prius taxi in New York

The Council is to increase the number of taxis on York’s’ streets by four a year. The vehicles will have to be either electric or hybrids. With no suitable electric vehicles available at present (range issues) it is likely that we will see more Toyota Prius style hybrid vehicles plying our streets for hire. (The current Prius model can be leased for around £100 a week with low fuel costs and zero VED).
We think the Council are right to take this decision as the new vehicles will reduce emission levels and should be quieter.
The Council has also introduced new standards for replacement taxi and private hire vehicles. For 2012 replacement vehicles will have to meet the latest Euro emission standards.
“Plug in” Toyota hybrid’s have been on trial in the UK for the last 12 months. They and the Chevy “Volt” are an increasingly common sight on roads in the USA. One would be an obvious choice for the Lord Mayors new car when the existing ones lease runs out shortly.
We’d like to see the Council now start to introduce low emission vehicles across its fleet. After a good start, when they bought 3 Smart cars 7 or 8 years ago, the fleet now fails to set a good environmental example by contemporary standards.
Unfortunately the Council has blundered by reintroducing a 24 hour taxi rank on Duncombe Place. The rank is currently closed at 10:00pm with alternative facilities being made available in St Sampson’s Square. We think it is wrong to encourage, sometimes noisy, patrons into the Minster neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning. The area has several residential properties as well as hotels whose guests deserve a good night’s rest!

Charging points in San Francisco

Gale Lane clean up requested

We’ve asked for detritus to be cleared from near homes at the top end of Gale Lane.

Gale Lane clean up needed

We’ve also asked for the area in front of the Gale Farm Court flats to be swept. There is still alot of salt/grit on the roads and pavements left over from last winter.

Goalpost mystery cleared up

Tedder Road park goalposts

The mystery of the goal posts that suddenly appeared in the middle of the Tedder Road park has been cleared up. Lowther Street based Councillor Stephen Burton has written to the local media claiming “credit” for getting the goal posts installed.
Residents were amazed to see the posts arrive as there had been no recent consultation on the issue. Last year residents living close to the park had opposed the provision of five a side posts fearing that they would draw even more footballers into the small park.
Instead they favoured directing teenagers to the, much larger, designated playing field at the bottom of Foxwood Lane.
Residents wanted to see 2 metre high railings – similar to those that secure the Foxwood park on Bellhouse Way – installed. A proposal to do this was submitted by Liberal Democrat Councillors but it appears that the bid has not yet been agreed for funding from the Council’s “target hardening” budget.

Foxwood in Bloom

The judges came yesterday to judge Foxwood in Bloom and we await the results.
Over the last few years residents have planted crocus in the grass verges as well as daffodils at corners of junctions and this past year have planted up tubs outside flats on the Foxwood estate and have planted more than 50 saplings in Foxwood Park.
The judge gave us lots of ideas to pursue in the future and if you want to get involved then contact Shirley Gumley on 793437.

School meals price hike

The Council’s Labour administration has been accused of trying to hide a 2% increase in school meal prices, after they failed to take the decision on the increase in public.
The decision was taken last week by Council Officers, rather than by the Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Young People’s Services. The fact that the decision was made by Officers means that the decision was taken in private and that news of the decision was only published in the Council’s Officer Decision Log.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Carol Runciman said when she had been Executive Member for Children and Young People’s Services decisions on school meal prices were usually made in public by Councillors.
She said, “In the past school meal price increases have been brought to Executive Member Decision Sessions, along with a public report. This meant that the meeting was publicised and people could make representations if they wanted to before the decision was taken.”
“It seems that this time the decision was delegated to officers so no report was publicised and it seems that parents weren’t given chance to comment on the changes.”
“To have officers take this decision is a real departure from the usual process and brings into question Labour’s claim that their Cabinet Members will take responsibility for decisions.”
“So far it seems Labour Cabinet Members are all too keen to get publicity when they are announcing what they think is good news, but are not so willing to be held to account for anything they think might be unpopular.”

Britain in Bloom – Foxwood

Britain in Bloom judges have been in the Foxwood area over the last few days, as York aims to win the national title. York won the contest in Yorkshire last year so this year the City represents the region in the national finals.
We understand that the judges were impressed by the communities commitment although whether the recent decline in some public service standards will count against us remains to be seen.
Results will be announced in the Autumn

Union Terrace car park – Petition now on line

Residents can now sign a petition against the closure of the Union Terrace car park. It can be found at “Have your say”. If more than 1000 people support the petition, then it will force the Council to debate the issue at their next meeting (currently scheduled for 6th October). Alternatively a special Council meeting might be called.
The immediate threat to the future of car and coach parking arrangements in the Union Terrace area seems to have receded. The, seemingly impulsive, proposal by the Labour Leadership to sell the car park does not appear in the Council’s Forward plan which covers all key decisions.
St Johns had previously indicated that it understood that the Council would need to conclude its Local Development Framework plan before it could consider any changes to transport provision in and around the City centre. Consultation on a City Centre Action Plan, covering the whole of the City centre area, still seems to be the most likely way forward.
Claims have been made in the media that the last Liberal Democrat administration on the Council commissioned a report on the future of the car park. That is not true.
Council officials are understood – without the knowledge of Councillors – to have begun the process of gathering information on options following a request from St Johns. The report was not completed not has it, or any other appraisal, ever been published. Several Freedom of Information requests have been lodged with the Council in an attempt to find out what happened, when and why.
Essentially though the situation remains the same. The Council must ensure that adequate parking facilities are sustained in the Union Terrace area while seeking also to satisfy St John’s need to have more floor space. That is a solvable problem.

Union Tce coach park

Lowfields Care “village” plan announced

The proposal to provide a new care village aimed at providing accommodation for older residents on the former Lowfields School site has taken a step forward. The Council will decide on 19th July whether to consult residents on a range of options for providing care facilities for the growing numbers of older people in the City.
There are currently 33,000 people over the age of 65 and this is expected to grow to 37,000 by 2015 and 40,100 by 2020.
Most older people want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and the “Telecare” system – pioneered by the Liberal Democrat Council in 2006 – has had a major impact. But there are still 286 beds in Council run Elderly Person’s Homes in York. Of these 57 – including those at Westfield’s Windsor House facility – cater specifically for dementia suffers.
It is estimated that CYC will need 180 beds providing a mixture of dementia, high dependency, and nursing care in the future.
The past 10 years has seen a change in the level of need of people admitted to residential care. As people live longer and stay at home longer those admitted to residential care are often more physically frail. Recent years have also seen a significant increase in the number of people in residential care suffering from dementia which ranges from mild signs of confusion to more acute forms where they are very confused and often demonstrate challenging behaviour. The average age of people entering residential care in York is now 86 years old and the average stay for an older person in CYC homes is 18 months.
Two 45-bedroom homes are proposed as part of the new “care village” on the site of the former Lowfield School, which could also include the construction of 21 new two-bedroom, independent living bungalows. Two similar but smaller facilities are planned for Fulford and Huntington at a total capital cost of around £14 million.
We don’t believe that Council taxpayers will be able to fund this investment so we expect that a private sector partnership is the most likely way of taking the project forward.
We have always supported the use of the Lowfields site for the construction of an older person’s village. It was the preferred option of local people in our 2010 residents survey. The location has the major advantage of being close to key services in the Front Street area (library, Post Office, doctors surgeries etc.) while also being close to the number 4 ftr public transport route. Similar schemes like Hartrigg Oaks on the other side of the City have been very successful.
NB. The review undertaken by the Council did not look at sheltered accommodation like Gale Farm Court and Aintree House which are not affected by the proposals.