Council leadership policy mistake costing average York resident £50 a year

The government has announced that how individual Councillors vote on crucial budget decisions – like Council Tax levels – will, in future, be published.

In York, such decisions are often the subject of a “recorded vote” anyway although it can be weeks before vigilant taxpayers can find the records in meeting minutes.

Meanwhile the government has again offered to underwrite the income required to freeze Council Tax levels. £779,000 has been offered to the City. The funding would continue in future years.

The Council has made poor decisions over the last 3 years when turning down this funding.Council tax

The inexperienced Labour leadership – wrongly – assumed that the subsidy would be available for 1 year only. In reality the government has built the payment into the basic grant that the City receives.

This means that York Council taxpayers are – on average – now paying over £50 a year more for local services than they would have been if the Council had accepted the central government offer.

Next year a band D council taxpayer will have to find  £1,165.54 to pay for York Council services, to which will be added the costs of Fire (4% increase planned) and Police (2% increased proposed)

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The York Council is planning to give £1 million to the Leeds Council “infrastructure fund”.

In addition, around £300,000 in additional (new) Business Rates are being “pooled” with West Yorkshire Councils.

These are optional payments with no guarantee that any of the money will be invested in York.

 

 

Huge increase in York car parking charges – residents targeted for 82% hike.

York’s unique Minster badge scheme which has helped to protect York residents from high car parking charges is being scrapped by Labour.

Under the LibDems, in 2011 residents paid £1.10 per hour to park at most City centre car parks (those designated as “standard stay”).

Residents will now see that increase by a staggering 82% to £2.00.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The Council is offering what they term as a frequent visitor badge.

However these will cost £20 a year to buy (and are not restricted to York Council Taxpayers).

click to see full survey results

click to see full survey results

The Councils own survey (see left) of residents, revealed that the vast majority no longer drive into the City centre frequently enough to make such a badge a worthwhile purchase.

Only those using the car parks several times a week would get any benefit and they probably already choose to buy a season ticket. (A season ticket, which allows unlimited parking for a year, costs less than £500 for a small/low emission vehicle)

The news comes at a time when traders have claimed that Saturdays no parking fee trial had been a success.

The trial will have cost the Council around £20,000 in income. First buses will also have lost income on their Park and Ride contract.

Crunch time for City centre

So its crunch time for the City centre economy. Few residents are going to pay those kind of charges when they can get free parking at out of City shopping centres.

The Council is still promising “pay on exit” barriers at the Marygate car park, but that initiative is too little too late.

Even if the Lendal Bridge closure is lifted in March, it will take a long time to restore the City’s reputation with both residents and visitors.

The number of shoppers in the City centre was continuing to fall even before the Lendal Bridge closure

The next local elections are little more than a year away now though,  so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Labour are leaving an economic nightmare for someone to clear up.

Narrow vote but £70,000 “non job” gets York Council “go ahead”

Labour Councillors today voted through (by 3 votes to 2) the appointment of a new £70,000 a year “Interim Assistant Director Transformation and Change

You did waht

The post has been described as a “non-job” with vague objectives

A variety of questions were asked by opposition Councillors, including why just an internal advert, about the pool of people who could apply, about constituency of recruitment across the council and why if they could save money from a Children’s Services post did they need even more than the £500k set aside for transformation.

The post will be recruited internally. Only existing Council staff will be able to apply.

Two other posts are also to be advertised. An Assistant Directors for School Improvement and Highways/Waste will be advertised externally.

Unlike other Council meetings this committee’s debates are not transmitted over the web. Nor is an audio recording made available for residents.

Apparently some agricultural language was used by one of the participants!

Frontline services threatened by membership of Leeds super council

Potholes

Liberal Democrats have raised fresh concerns over York’s membership of a new super council after it was revealed that money could be cut from frontline survices to fund the City’s contribution.

Labour run City of York Council has decided to join with Leeds, Bradford and other West Yorkshire metropolitan authorities in a new super council, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, from April 2014. York will be expected to contribute around £4million-a-year to the authority, which will have a range of roles including deciding major local transport schemes and overseeing economic development.

At last week’s Full Council meeting, in response to a question from Lib Dem Councillor Keith Orrell, Labour confirmed that they did not know where the £4million-a-year would come from but they would consider taking it from York’s revenue budget – which funds frontline services.
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Highways maintenance cuts for York revealed.

The Council has revealed how it plans to spend £2.6 million on highways and footpath resurfacing over the next financial year.

road works

The provisional expenditure is down on the £3.4 million being invested during the current year.

That in turn was well down on the budget agreed by the last Liberal Democrat administration which held power until 2011 and which regularly invested over £5 million a year in the highways network.

Carriageway surfaces are now breaking up and the repairs backlog is growing.

In the Westfield ward footpaths in parts of three streets are due to receive attention next year. Roads affected are Cornlands Road, Wetherby Road, and Green Lane. However there are no plans to resurface any roads (carriageways) in the area.

Behind closed doors logo

A full list of streets where repairs are planned can be downloaded by clicking here

A final Council highways budget for next year will be announced in March.

The decision, on which roads to resurface, was taken in another “behind closed doors” meeting. There was no consultation with residents on the options.

Council to increase charges by £154,000 with car parking rates still to be announced

The York Council has published a list of proposed increases in the charges that it makes for some services.

Bulky household waste collections will now cost £36.75 for a maximum of 10 items.

Removal of fridges will cost £21.

Wealthy to dominate tennis again?

Wealthy to dominate tennis again?

The increases could further worsen the problems with dumping that have been multiplying since the Beckfield Lane recycling centre closed last year.

Room hire at the central Library will cost a whopping £69 an hour while a 30 person capacity room at Acomb Library will cost £52.50 per hour (£34.60 for non profit making organisations).

Tennis will cost £7-40 per hour and bowls £4.20.

A full sized allotment (200 – 450 sq yards) will cost £104 a year with effect from January

There are massive increases in charges for the Guildhall. A Saturday morning hire will cost £225 (currently £170).

Council budget meetings poorly attended

Council budget meetings poorly attended

Hire charges for a small committee room are up by 25% to £25 an hour.

Other charges – including the significant car parking rates which bring in £7.4million a year for the Council – will be decided in January.

There has been no consultation with residents on charges and they are pointedly omitted from the budget discussions taking place around the City.

Not surprisingly, these meetings have been very poorly attended.

A full list of proposed charges can be found here.

York road repairs backlog hits £32.7 million

Worn highays surface Hamilton Drive West
Worn highays surface Hamilton Drive West
Pothole Windsor Garth

Pothole Windsor Garth

In response to a Freedom of information request , the York Council has admitted that it would cost £32.7 million to address the backlog on highways repairs.

The figure includes all road and footway refurbishment works with associated drainage and road signs and markings.

Meanwhile more and more problems with potholes are expected as ice further damages poor road surfaces during the winter months.

Potholes little Green Lane

Potholes little Green Lane

Cornlands Road drains blockeed

Cornlands Road drains blockeed