Move to address declining refuse collection reliability in York

Council invests additional £125,000 in waste & recycling services

click to access CYC waste Facebook site

 

Following recent challenges to the Council’s Waste & Recycling Service, Councillors have agreed to spend £125K on improving the resilience of the service.

At a meeting of the Council Executive on Thursday (29th November 2018), it was agreed to use £125k from the waste reserve to recruit and train more staff ahead of the winter season.

Earlier this year a national shortage of HGV drivers, sickness and poor weather caused a number of issues for the Waste & Recycling Service.

In response, improving the service was made a priority; including rectifying missed collections and holding a successful recruitment day for staff in September.

A further report will be taken to an Executive Member decision session next month, recommending a new driver apprentice programme, in order to support the service in the long-term.  If approved, the Council will develop a driver apprentice programme within the waste team to train drivers as early as next year.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Environment, said:

“This year has been a challenging one for our Waste & Recycling Service, because, like many other areas in the country, we have felt the effects of a national shortage in HGV drivers.”

“Residents have, quite rightly, felt frustrated by missed collections and that is why we have been working hard to identify the best approach to supporting the service amidst these challenges.”

“Therefore, I am pleased that the Council Executive has agreed to invest a further £125K in the service, as this will allow us to immediately take steps in improving the resilience of the service, particularly before the busy Winter period.  This is a short-term measure and one of many we are looking at to support the service.” (more…)

Council budget on track but second home owners will pay more

Most people say that they can’t influence decisions

Refuse collection costs are a concern in York

A report being considered later this week forecasts that the York Council will overspend its budget by around £800,000. This is a controllable risk. Overspends are often projected after the first quarter of the 2018/19 financial year..

The Council has a net budget of £122 million.

Most of the overspend is for children’s and adult social care services. Waste collection costs also continue to be under pressure

The good weather and increased visitor numbers experienced during most of this summer has led to car parking income being 3.2 % above budget. This could lead to an £150,000 surplus at the end of the year.

The Council will also increase the surcharge on Council Tax rates applying to second homes from 50% to 100% with effect from April 2019.

A panel of residents gives a quarterly verdict on how well the Councils is performing.

Only 26% agreed that they could “influence decisions in their area”.

There was some good news though, with 88% satisfied with their local area as a place to live and 60% satisfied with the way that the Council runs things.

The Council only highlights a limited – and highly selective – number of performance indicators in its committee reports. Residents have to wade through on line scorecards to  find out more detail (click)

Independent surveys of public service satisfaction levels in the City reveal that people are most unhappy with the following public services:

  • Litter control 60% rate the service as “poor”
  • Dog fouling 58%
  • Road repairs 54%

The Council singularly fails to publicly monitor and comment on these public services.

The best independently rated public service is the bus service with 57% now rating it as “good”.  Many bus services are of course provided on a commercial basis.

York Council’s investment programme slipping into crisis

Major delays on housing modernisation, Guildhall repairs and transport improvements

Executive report 30th Aug 2018

A report to a meeting taking place on Thursday suggests reducing this year’s capital investment programme by £33 million.

The slippage includes major tenant choice housing modernisation works as the Council has failed to appoint a contractor to carry on the programme. No explanation of the programme failure is offered. The delays could affect other works including those dealing with standing water under homes and upgrades to water mains. These issues have not been publicly reported to the Councillor who has Executive responsibility for housing

The Council does still hope to make a start on controversial building schemes at Newbury Avenue (Autumn 2018) and the £22.5 million Lowfields scheme (Spring 2019).

The report claims that £748,000 “approved by the Executive in December 2016 for Lowfield sports facilities” will be spent, thus perpetuating the myth that the new football pitches being provided near Bishopthorpe are in some way linked to the Lowfields redevelopment.

There are also delays on several major transport infrastructure schemes.

Improvements to the northern by-pass (basically bigger roundabouts) will slip into 2019/20 as will a start on the new York Central access road from Water End.

Guildhall “business case” March 2017

Work on refurbishing the Guildhall will also be delayed with nearly £10 million slipping as a start on site is not now expected before summer 2019. Reopening is unlikely before 2021.

The Guildhall remains closed to the public and is not used now even for Council meetings. Even an empty Guildhall costs taxpayers about £330 a day with much if it going on Business Rates, heating, energy and security. To that should be added the cost of hiring alternative premises for Council meetings and the additional repair costs that inevitably arise when an old building is left empty for an extended period of time.

The Community Stadium work is “progressing on timetable’. However, £5.8 million in contract  payments are being slipped from 2018/19 to 2019/20.

The Council still expects to invest around £124 million during the present financial year.

York Council debts mounting as housing borrowing plan pushes finances to the brink

By the end of the year the York Council will have debts of over £318.2 million, up £52 million compared to 12 months earlier.

Nearly 14% of taxes paid to the authority now go on interest and principal repayments on loans.

The authority owes £139 million in historic debt on Council housing programmes.

The overall exposure is partly offset by investment balances which stand at £75.7 million (down from £91.6 million in 2017)

Debts have increased because of several projects. One of the most expensive is York’s share of the Allerton Park waste processing plant. Money has also been borrowed to fund aspects of the York Central development.

The financial assessment is due to be discussed at a meeting later this week.

The same meeting will consider the Council’s policy on funding new housing.

Included in the plan is a proposal which would see the Council borrowing £10 million to fund the development of the Lowfields site. This means the Council will have housing debts of £145 million, close to the legal debt cap of £146 million.

The Lowfields proposal involves building on a sports field which will be controversial and may lead to legal challenges. A promised “start on site” early in 2019 looks optimistic.

There is also the problem of development expertise in the Council. It has a woeful recent project management record with cost escalations on several major projects including the Community Stadium and the refurbishment of the Guildhall.

Lowfields – Plan to build on sports pitches

There are some good features in the new housing plan, but the Council will be sailing very close to the financial wind if it accepts the officer recommendations without amendment.

The report fails to address the problem of unlocking disused Council land like the site behind the Acomb Library or private sector “land banks” like the prime location next to the Barbican.

It would be more than ironic if the planning committee was bullied into accepting the Lowfields plans which, green space provision aside, feature straight geometric lines of 3 bed semis – a discredited  layout abandoned by other Councils over 50 years ago

York Council acts to tackle street level problems – potholes, school parking, weeds/litter, footpath repairs etc

Saturdays story, Now action promised on cleaning up streets

Potential boost for York’s frontline services
York’s frontline services could be set to receive a further financial boost, thanks to the efforts of Liberal Democrat Councillors.
In a report published today, it is proposed that:
  • £1.031 million is used to increase capacity in some of York’s crucial frontline services by utilising £620k that has been unspent and a further £411k of unused contingency fund.
  • It is also proposed that an extra £1 million is brought forward from the 2019/20 budget to resurface some of the worst roads in the City, as a result of the recent extreme winter weather. 
If approved by the Executive, it is proposed that this newly released funding be used to support existing frontline services and launch new initiatives, including:
  • Creating a new work programme for footpath repairs across the city.
  • Establishing an additional team to carry out pothole maintenance.
  • Providing new resources for enforcement teams to control dangerous parking, with a special focus on improving safety around schools.
  • Allowing residents who have had recycling boxes damaged or stolen to claim two free boxes per year.
  • Using the Economic Infrastructure Fund to support high street shopping in Haxby and Acomb.
  • Creating a fund to support voluntary and community groups who wish to develop innovative ideas on how to make the best use of our green spaces.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of the Council, said:
“Frontline services have always remained our number one priority for the Liberal Democrats and if approved by the Executive in June, this additional investment goes a long way top reaffirm that commitment.”
“Subject to Executive approval, this additional funding can be put to good use in order to carry out extensive highways repairs and considerably improve our public spaces.”
“Just as this investment shows, the Liberal Democrats will continue to uphold our commitment to York’s frontline services and work hard to ensure residents receive the highest standards of service from all Council services.”

Westfield Ward budget allocations announced

Details have emerged about how the  budget – delegated to local Westfield Councillors – will be spent during the present financial year. Similar budgets are available across the whole of York (although the extent to which individual Ward Councillors consult, before allocating the funds, does vary)

Westfield Ward Committee will award:

A youth club and “hub” will operate from Sanderson Court in Chapelfields

In addition, Westfield Ward Committee will dedicate:

  • £920 towards ward directory project

    A local pub team will bring football back to Chesney’s Field

  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding for activities provision for young people
  • £1,500 to set a pot of funding for support for sports teams
  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding for activities for older residents
  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding for trimming of City of York Council trees – to be used for work at locations across the ward
  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding for trimming of overgrown shrubs and repairs to fencing on the City of York Council land
  • £1,500 to support a project to tidy up the Acomb war memorials
  • £500 to set a pot of funding towards anti dog fouling campaign
  • £5,000 to set a pot of funding towards mobile CCTV cameras to catch fly tipping
  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding towards tidy up and bulky waste removal projects
  • £2,000 to set a pot of funding towards removal or refurbishment of obsolete or damaged street furniture and signs
  • £3,000 to set a pot of funding towards projects with the aim to tackle anti-social behaviour
  • £1,250 towards painting cycle hoops along Front Street

    More parking lay-bys will be provided

Councillors also considered ward capital projects and decided to invest in the following:

  • installation of a parking bay to accommodate 2 to 3 cars between number 12 and number 20 Bachelor Hill
  • continue with the levelling programme of Front Street and other footpaths
  • installation of a parking bay on Dijon Avenue at the verge to the side of no 41 Green Lane
  • installation of a parking bay on verge adjacent to number 95 Lowfields Drive
  • reconstruction and protection of grass verges at locations across the ward
  • installation of barriers in the Walker Drive snicket

There was a limited turn out in the  residents ballot about priorities. Fewer than 70 votes were recorded for the most popular schemes

Additional investment in adult social care in York

Councillors will be asked to release funds of £1.25m for adult social care when they meet on 8 May 2018.

At the meeting the Executive will hear about the approach adult social care is taking with partners to support people with care and support needs, maximising their independence and capacity to remain at home, avoid hospital admission and return home as soon as possible from hospital.

As well as hearing about progress on the work we are doing to increase independence, councillors will be asked to agree to maintain current additional activity and release £800,000 recurring budget set aside in the 2018/19 budget, as well as the non recurring £457,000 adult social care support grant budget to fund further support.

In the past year the council has implemented a number of successful initiatives which have made a significant and positive impact on people’s lives.

They include the YorWellbeing falls prevention service, which has had a positive impact in reducing injuries and hospital admission. The service offers free home safety visits to all residents in Clifton and Guildhall Wards who want practical help and advice to reduce the risk of falls in their home. The release of funds would see further investment in the service expand into other areas in the city  increased capacity to support more residents.

Another example is the council’s local area coordinators in Westfield, Tang Hall and Huntington and New Earswick. The team people access community support, delaying and or preventing the need for statutory services.  Further funding will see the scheme expanded.

As well as continue this work,  a review of these initiatives has informed the following recommendations including increasing the level of reablement provision, maintain seven days a week social work to ensure capacity is available at weekends and promote and maintain the capacity and sustainability of home care.  Investment is also suggested for step down beds to increase the number available.

(more…)

York Council sets budget …just

The York Council has tonight passed the budget recommended by the Councils Executive. Essentially this was a joint proposal by the LibDem/Tory coalition. It means a 3.5% Council Tax increase.

The final proposal was passed by 25 votes to 18.

Amendments from the Labour and Green groups, which would  seen significantly higher tax increases, were heavily defeated.

The meeting had earlier seen the resignations of two Tory Councillors (Carr and Mercer) meaning that the Council is now comprised of 15 Labour, 12 LibDem, 12 Tory, 4 Green and 4 Independent members.

The Council failed to elect a new Leader following Cllr Carr’s departure.

The Council will meet again in a weeks time to try to resolve the crisis.

NB. The largest group (Labour) failed to make a nomination for the post of Leader.

Littering fines to rise to £100 in York

Car parking charges up

Councillors are expected to day to confirm increased charges for many York Council services.

There is an eyewatering 33% increase in the fine level for anyone found littering the streets They will pay £100 a time (early payment discount £75-00) Unfortunately very few fines have been issued in recent years and litter remains a problem in parts of the City

The Council is also hiking the rent for garages. This despite many having been left empty. The Council could bring in more income by actively marketing the vacancies. Filling the garages would also reduce on street parking problems in some suburban estates. Council tenants will pay £7-43 for a garage while private individuals may rent one for £8-92. There are higher charges for high demand are while areas with a low demand attract discount rates

Car parking charges are increasing by 10p per hour. 5 hours parking at a short stay car park will cost £11-50

No elasticity of demand analysis is included in the Council budget papers. In recent years the Council has rarely achieved its budgeted income from parking charges

A list of the new charges can be found by clicking here