The environment and informal leisure

The government has launched a welcome initiative this week aimed at encouraging more active lifestyles. There has been a lot of support for cycling as a way of keeping fit and losing weight. That is very welcome and we hope that it soon translates into a Council initiative aimed at improving maintenance standards on off road cycle paths, many of which are in poor condition in York.

Less attention has been paid to leisure walking – an option open to virtually everyone.

There has been renewed interest in the use of local Public Rights of Way (PROW) as residents sought to follow daily – social distance – exercising guidelines. The route across Acomb Moor to Acomb Wood became more popular. A local bulletin board has seen several people criticise the farmer who blocked off all entrances to the moor before ploughing it.

Access to Acomb Moor blocked

While the owner is entitled to cultivate his land, he should not have blocked the Foxwood Lane access at least while the current PROW application is being actively considered. We have asked the public rights of way officer to intervene.

More needs to be done to enhance and improve access to the natural environment at least on the west of the City.

The Councils own annual survey of opinion revealed that  44% of panellists thought that the Council was not doing well at improving green spaces.

59% thought that the Council wasn’t doing well at reducing air pollution.

The Council planted 515 trees last year. It had previously claimed that it would plant “50,000 trees by 2023”. It had also promised to expand the City’s strays and introduce more wildflower meadows in an attempt to encourage pollinators.

We understand that a report will be considered by the Council in August which will  set out proposals to acquire land which will enable the creation of a “large new area of woodland in close proximity to the city to provide green amenity space for residents and plant trees that will contribute to the council’s commitment to become net carbon neutral by 2030”.

There has to be balance. The country does need to be more self sufficient in food production, so the retention of good quality agricultural land is also important.

However, the creation of a country park on land near Askham Lane would be a welcome step forward. It has been a vision for several years. It would allow hedgerows to be re-established and PROWs to be maintained in good condition.

It would also provide some compensation for the sports and leisure land lost through recent developments in the area.

 It only now remains to be seen whether Councillors have the drive and determination to deliver on their promises.Tree Walking GIF - Tree Walking Tired - Discover & Share GIFs

Exercise more difficult as York Council route improvements not completed.

We reported before Christmas, that a Council project aimed at reducing flooding in the Osprey Close area, had stalled. The result was that in wet weather the link to Acomb Moor and Acomb Wood became impassible.

The Council promised to put hard core down on an alternative access but this was delayed.

Work on completing the job didn’t recommence before the Coronavirus lock-down prevented further progress.

Although most of the path is accessible now that the mud has gone, the alternative link path is steep and potentially hazardous for the less physically able. This is a shame given the large numbers of people wanting to use this, and similar, routes for their daily exercise.

Nearby the Public Right of Way application for Acomb Moor has also stalled and will not be pursued until normal work resumes at the Council.

In the meantime volunteers are trying to keep hedges trimmed back to allow continued use of the path.

Volunteers are trimming back thorn hedges from local footpaths
Acomb Wood is popular with recreational walkers. It also is maintained by volunteers.
Abandoned barriers at the site of the drainage works
The pedestrian Link to Osprey Close. Passable in dry weather but very uneven
Acomb Moor has been popular with walkers, dog owners and families in recent weeks. Formal approval of the footpath access has still be be agreed by the Council.

Please report ponding & flooding problems

We see that local Councillors are taking up issues with minor flooding on roads and footpaths.

Today’s poor weather is likely to highlight where the main blockages are.

One resident has used https://www.fixmystreet.com/ to highlight a problem near Lidl.

In some cases the “ponding” results from blocked or damaged drainage gullies.

Damaged gully cover

In others, the carriageway has sunk and more extensive repairs may be necessary.

The Council has allocated over £3.5 million for repairs to drainage channels over the next few years. . A Council report published last week said, “It is calculated that more than £8m of investment will be needed over 12 years to address all defective assets on a priority/needs based approach, and the funding included is based on two additional works gangs and materials”

It is not just gullies that are waterlogged.

Off street paths need hardcore to prevent flooding

Several off road paths – including those linking Acomb Wood, Acomb Moor and the Westfield Park off Grange Lane – are obstructed.

The local ward committee has a delegated budget which is available to address problems with cycle and pedestrian routes. We think it should use some of it to ensure that these paths remain usable in wet weather.

Whatever the issue, residents are strongly recommended to report problems to the Council. The sooner work gets into the forward programme the sooner issues will be resolved. https://www.york.gov.uk/reportproblems

Council asked to take action

Car parking sign at Foxwood Lane bus shelter has disappeared
We’ve reported detritus build up on the highway in Osprey Close. The footpath link to Acomb Moor is now just about passable now although we’ve asked for some hardcore to be put down.
Definitely “Wellingtons” needed if you plan to use the footpath link to Acomb Moor. This can be improved when the right of way is formally recognised. Ward Councillors have promised to follow this up
Not sure that this advertising signs are authorised

Council progress on Public Rights of Way

A council report says that all but one outstanding applications, for a Public Rights of Way in the City, have now been processed for a decision.

Council barriers used to obstruct public right of way

Unfortunately the outstanding application is the one for Acomb Moor (the link from Foxwood Lane to Osprey Close).

The Council promised to determine this by the end of February.

Following our story yesterday, were advised that the Osprey Close footpath obstruction has resulted from drainage works undertaken in the area.

The residents association is pressing local Councillors to provide a hardcore surface to ensure that walkers can at least get past the mud.

In that respect the path provided by the Council for the Hawkshead Close access into the wood.

Leaf detritus needs to be swept from Osprey Close footpaths

NB. We’ve asked for the Osprey Close area to be swept to remove tree detritus and the remains of last years weed growth which can still be found in some gutters.

Some weeds still obstructing drainage gullies.

Council blocks popular footpath link

Over the last few days contractors have been working on the Council owned section of Acomb Wood near the top of Osprey Close.

They put some hard core down near the entrance gate (good) but they have left a large spoil heap blocking the popular footpath access to the wood.

They have also erected Council owned barriers on the PROW footpath link to Acomb Moor and Foxwood Lane beyond.

As well as the spoil heap, the actions of a tractor have reduced the path to an impassable quagmire. A spectacularly bad time of year to undertaken work like this.

It is unclear who is responsible for the work (the farmer has a right of access but he usually accesses his field direct from Askham Lane).

Paths in the Council owned section of Acomb Wood get very muddy. Their condition contrast with the well maintained – by volunteers – section of the wood on the other side of the road.

Only the Council would have any reason to work on this land – which is a publicly owned amenity area – but to do so without any warning or consultation is remarkably insensitive.

The residents association are planning to discuss the issue at their meeting next week.

There is scope for putting down hardcore on other sections of the popular footpath which goes through the Council owned part of Acomb Wood and which gets very muddy in places.

Issues reported in west York today

Hedges need cutting back during winter
More potholes
Snickets need sweeping
Verges need tidying up and damaged equipment replaced.
Fly tipping needs removing
Another one for the new graffiti removal team
Acomb Moor damaged stile still not repaired. We understand that local Councillors are dealing
Council bus shelters are filthy

Stile collapses

We’d reported on several occasions that the stile access from Foxwood Lane onto Acomb Moor was unstable. It has now collapsed (wood rot).

Hopefully the field owners and local Councillors will get it fixed. There si no grazing on the moor at present so security is not compromised.

A decision on the Public Right of Way route, which uses the stile, will be made by the York Council in February.

Acomb Moor footpath project takes step forward

The Foxwood Residents Association has now served notice on the owners of the land that the Foxwood Lane/Osprey Close Public Right of Way crosses.

This forms part of the proposal to have the path included on the definitive rights of way map.

The York Council will now consider the proposal.

The link has been used by residents for over 30 years.  It starts on Foxwood Lane, near the former kennels site, and finishes at the kissing gate access on Osprey Close.

Many “evidence of use” forms have already been submitted. There is still time to confirm that you have used at least part of the claimed route at some time over the last 20 years. Even a couple of years occasional use helps to build the evidence base.

If you would like to fill in a form please Email Foxwoodra@btinternet.com and they will email a blank one to you.

When the PROW is confirmed it will be possible to seek repairs to the stiles and kissing gate on the route.

The application processes does normally take several months to conclude.