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

Most often knocked over traffic bollard? Fastest growing thistles?

Is this the most frequently damaged mini roundabout keep left sign. Located at the junction of Askham Lane and Ridgeway, no sooner is it repaired and another large vehicle – or careless driver- knocks it over again. York Council needs to come up with a better solution.
Thistles are now partly blocking the cycle path at Knapton. Not sure whether this is on the York Council weed killing programme? It should be. It would be a shame to lose this, increasingly well used, cycle link to Rufforth for lack of maintenance.
It would be a shame if the York Council was to be allowed to continue to neglect the Front Street area. More must be invested in improving maintenance standards. However, there are now new opportunities for regeneration. The Councils decision to (effectively) evict disabled drivers (blue badge holders) from the City centre could prompt the reopening of Front Street, for this category of motorists, on at least a couple of days each week. They would then be free to park nearer the shops (disabled parking spaces are currently limited). Cyclists would also benefit. “Social distancing” is made easier because of the shop forecourts. Add in some music/entertainment, street stalls and a high profile marketing campaign and the area could soon be buzzing again. .

Social distancing success

First York are using some of their Park and Ride “bendy” buses on stage carriage routes today including the number 4. This should increase capacity while allowing for safe social distancing. So far the plan seems to be working well.

Acomb Moor Meadow

Elsewhere, Acomb Moor Meadow has had its first cut of the season . This should make social distancing easier for the increased number of walkers that have been using fields like these for exercise during the health crisis.

A two metre wide strip has also been cut on Askham Lane (rural section) where this was practical. This should make safe distancing easier for those exercising in the area.

Less good news though on road safety. There was a bad crash on Bellhouse Way yesterday. No one was injured but some drivers and motorcyclists in west York seem to be using some roads as race tracks.

Accident on Bellhouse Way on Sunday

The police need to get on top of this problem as streets are set to become progressively busier with a proportionate increase in risk.

Road repairs promised, Foxwood residents key workers tribute

Dringhouses Councillor Stephen Fenton tells us that the Council have agreed to fill in the potholes on the Askham Lane approach to the A1237 roundabout. Last week the highways department claimed there was no need for any work!
Foxwood Residents Association gardeners (Foxgloves) have unveiled a tribute to key workers in the communal garden at the community centre.
Residents are being asked to check that boundary hedges are not intruding onto public footpaths
Thorn hedge branches which are impeding the Tedder Road – Cornlands Road snicket have been reported for a second time.
Bulky waste removal service recommences tomorrow (Monday). Details on Council web site.

So which roads and paths will be resurfaced this year in York?

Highways programme published

Tadcaster Road will be resurfaced

Somewhat later this year, the York Council has published its highways maintenance programme. The list reveals that the Council has cut its repairs budget by £100,000 compared to last year.

In total the Council will invest £12.3 million this year.

Not all will be spent on roads and paths as the budget also covers repairs to the City Walls (£626,000), replacement street lighting columns (£578,000) and drainage/gulley works (£1.7 million).

Most of the budget has been allocated to structural maintenance works.

£700,000 will be spent just filling in potholes as they appear.

The report gives no details of how the £500,000 repairs budget, delegated to wards last year,  is being spent.

The details of the allocations – and which streets are affected – can be viewed via these links

Footpaths

Major carriageway works

Patching

School Street misses out on the resurfacing list again

The programme is likely to disappoint some residents. They may have hoped that the new Council would get to grips with the, now huge, backlog in highway resurfacing work needed in the City.

But it seems that many residential roads and paths will not get the attention that they need.

In the Westfield ward only two streets will be resurfaced. A second section of Gale Lane will  be resurfaced as will the roundabout at the junction of Askham Lane and Ridgeway.

Badly worn footpaths like this on the odd numbered side of Askham Lane, in Walton Place, on Ridgeway, and on Otterwood Lane, together with the carriageways on Foxwood Lane and School Street, don’t get a mention.

Another hazardous road that didn’t make the cut

There is better news in Dringhouses with a large £1/2 million allocation is included for the resurfacing of Tadcaster Road while several streets in Woodthorpe* will be repaired. Work has already started on resurfacing part of Moor Lane.

The budget allocation predated the current health crisis. Like most of the Council’s expenditure commitments it is likely to be subject to review in the light of falling revenues.

Paradoxically, the current crisis has served to re-emphasise the importance of keeping basic highway surfaces in a condition which does not pose a threat to the safety of vulnerable users like pedestrians and cyclists.

We will be pressing for the details of the “ward resurfacing programme” to be released for scrutiny.

  • Streets identified for “micro patching” include; Lowick (£8,700), Troutbeck (£7,000), Woodthorpe School Entrance (£2,400), Overdale (£6,200), Glenridding (£15,000), Windermere (£6,200), Brambledene (£27,000), Dringfield Close (£6,500), Wains Road (£40,000), &
    Lockwood Street (£6,000)

Road repairs backlog building in York

Residents will have a lot of sympathy with local highways inspectors who have the unenviable task of allocation very limited resources to road repairs. Poor weather has increased the number of potholes appearing over recent weeks. The poor state of highway surfaces is a reflection of inadequate investment in maintenance by the York Council for nearly a decade.

An additional pothole filling team is promised to be in place from April. Their arrival can’t come soon enough, at least in west York.

The Councils on line “report it” system now monitors highway defect reports. It is possible to see which reports have been read by officials. Several, reported over the last month, are recorded as “solved”. In reality the problems remain. The potholes have simply been judged not to be deep enough to warrant filling.

That is potentially bad news for cyclists.

Councillors receive very little in the way of monthly performance reports on highways activities, so its impossible to know whether the condition of roads and footpaths is getting worse or improving. The number of reports and complaints received is not routinely published.

Complaints about damage to verges, like parking on footpaths, go largely unmonitored. In summer it is a similar situation with highway obstructions like over grown hedges and weeds.

We hope for better in the future.

Askham Lane carriageway, near A1237 roundabout, will not be repaired
We’ve asked for detritus to be swept from the gutters in Otterwood Lane
The thorn hedge on the snicket to the rear on St Josephs Court (Cornlands Road) needs to be cut back before it becomes a hazard for pedestrians
The Acomb car park recycling area is tidier than it has been on some occasions in the past. Someone is still fly tipping in the area though.

Litter and pothole problems on Askham Lane

The “rural” part of Askham Lane is looking a bit neglected these days. It is a busy entrance route into the City and it really should be kept tidy and in a good state of repair.

Hopefully when the current issues with flooding have been resolved the area will get an uplift.

Issues in west York reported – paths, flooding and verge damage