Loss on Huntington Stadium concert confirmed as £187,000

Event only took £12,000 in ticket sales

The York Council has finally revealed that it lost an astonishing £187,000 on the concert that it staged at the Huntington Stadium on 4th July.

It spent £82,000 on artists fees and £94,000 on “infrastructure costs”

An “event management fee” of £18,000 was also spent

The Council went to extraordinary lengths to try to hide the scale of the failure with several Freedom of Information requests knocked back on largely spurious grounds and others still outstanding

With Labour now having lost their majority, officials have been ordered to reveal the full figures.

The mistakes will lead to renewed calls for the Cllr Crisp – who is responsible for Leisure activities – to resign.

She had been awarded a “medal” for her work on the event.

The costs given to leading Councillors were:

"Grand Departy" costs click to enlarge

“Grand Departy” costs click to enlarge

NB. The Labour Cabinet on 1st October 2013 set a budget for the Tour de France of £1,664k, to cover the cost of the event, funded from a variety of sources.

The outturn shows that the final cost of the event totalled £1,827k. In addition there was an up front payment of a “hosting fee”.

Links (click)

Cllr Keith Aspden, Lib Dem Group Leader commented:

 “There are serious questions to be asked as to how the council lost money on the Tour De France. The botched camping plans and the last-minute decision to hold a concert at Huntington Stadium have lost taxpayers £33,000 and £187,000 respectively.

“The Liberal Democrats argued all along that Labour needed to produce a proper public business case backed-up with detailed financial plans for these events. Instead Labour shrouded the plans in secrecy and took decisions behind-closed-doors without proper public involvement or opposition councillor scrutiny.

 “Given this, it is unsurprising that these council organised events have lost money and will now worryingly hit the communities and neighbourhoods budget by £60,000. 

 “Despite the mistakes made by the Labour run council, I am pleased that overall the Tour De France has had a positive impact on York businesses and the wider Yorkshire economy.”

Labour planning new household waste site charges

Reliable sources in West Offices have confirmed that Labour intend to impose new charges – for non recyclable rubbish -taken to sites like Hazel Court.

Bed dumped in field off Askham Lane

Bed dumped in field off Askham Lane

At the moment residents can take items to the “tip” free of charge.

The proposed charge – unlikely to be admitted by Labour until the Westfield by election is out of the way – follow on from the closure of the Beckfield Lane household waste recycling site and an 13% increase in the cost of having up to 10 bulky items removed by the Council.

Bulky waste removal now costs £36.75p

Second green waste bins are now charged for and Labour are understood to be on the on the brink of introducing charges for emptying all green bins

The consequences of these misguided polices are clear to see with fly tipping an increasing problem across the City (see photo)

£3.9 million Social Care budget problem forces major rethink in York

“the service was not responding quickly enough or effectively enough to the challenges it faced” – Auditors

The Council has now published an outline of how it intends to recover from the Social Care budget deficit discovered by Auditors.

The Auditors identified a budget pressure of £2.5 on this year’s budget together with outstanding actions needed to secure budgeted savings of £1.4 million.

Social care

In a separate report the Auditors they say

“Our view is that financial management and commissioning in the adult social care service needs to improve and this service has not responded quickly and effectively enough to the challenges that it faces.

 If the underlying financial pressures are not robustly addressed and actions to secure significant future base budget reductions are not effective, there is a risk that the Council will not be in a position to deliver the best possible value for money in adult social care services.

Of critical importance to the delivery of sustained improvement is a review of existing contracts and a new commissioning approach that secures the required services at an affordable price”.

The crisis had led to the demotion of the Cabinet member, who had responsibility for the department, earlier in the year with several senior staff following her out of the door last month.

A summary of the action that the Council intends to take can be read here

10 substantial issues, raised by the Auditors, are addressed. They include:

  • Producing a clear and unambiguous budget for the current year which eliminates overspends
  • Improved accountability for senior officials
  • More delegation of responsibility
  • Improvements in the budget build process for next and subsequent years
  • A clear savings plan
  • Improved management information systems and IT
Council Leader with Cllr Simpson Laing (right) a few weeks before she was sacked from her Social care post

Council Leader with Cllr Simpson Laing (right) a few weeks before she was sacked from her Social care post

Challenged on the problems at the last Council meeting, the Leader declined to say why he had not taken action last year to address the emerging issues.

Council officials had earlier declined to say why one of the savings projects – the opening of a new “super care village” at Lowfields – was running 3 years behind schedule.

Big York Council Departmental overspends in 2013/14

Council took £1.8 million in spy camera fines which may have to be refunded

Social care budgets were over spent by £1.3 million last year with Environmental Services (mainly waste collection)   clocking up a £443,000 and Children’s Services/Education a £309,000 loss.

man_reading_newspaper_clip_art_19616

Overall York Council  Departments spent £1.7 million more than had been budgeted.

The budget broke even only because of a £2 million surplus on “centrally administered” budgets.

The figures are revealed in a report  to be considered by the Councils “Cabinet” tomorrow (Tuesday)

As previously reported, the biggest problems arise in Social Care where the Council reveals overspends on community support (£236k) due to a higher number of customers than forecast, a continued increase above forecast level in the number of customers taking up Direct Payments (£129k), increased use of external placements for emergency and short term breaks (£252k) and a higher than budgeted number of customers in residential nursing placements (£718k).

The Councils financial position was saved only because it continued to enjoy the benefits of low interest rates on its borrowing (equivalent to a £990,000 budget saving).

It achieved only 73% of its planned capital investment programme storing up a massive £83 million backlog in work which it says it will try to address during the current financial year.

The government gave the City an extra £732,000 to reduce the Rate burden on small businesses although there has been a slow take up on this important concession.

The position is also masked by £1.765 million in fines income received from spy camera use in the Lendal Bridge and Coppergate.

The Council has now admitted that the trials cost a whopping £718,000 to implement. £1.047 million has been put in a reserve account which will presumably be used to refund fines imposed unlawfully.

The balance would have to come from Council taxpayers (the equivalent of a 1% rise in Council Tax levels).

The spy cameras on Lendal Bridge have been removed while those on Coppergate were switched off on 1st April.

The housing revenue account (Council house rents income) showed a £12.1 million surplus at the end of the year.

 The report to the Cabinet pointedly fails to contain performance data on the quality of public services being provided to York residents.

NB As at April 1st  2014, 6717 York Council Taxpayers had arrears of £ 4,769,989.36

York Social Services – auditors critical comments published

Following yesterdays revelations, that senior officials have left York Social Services Department, an Auditors report has provided further information on the background to the developing crisis.

Auditors Mazars, in a report to the Councils Audit and Governance committee next week, include the following paragraph

Risks in relation to Adult Social Care services
Description of the risksAdult social care is identified as one of the highest priorities within the Council’s service transformation programme. During the audit, we have become concerned at the lack of progress in making improvements to budget management and other aspects of adult social care services.

The development of the Better Care Fund provides a major challenge but also a significant opportunity for the Council and CCG to work together to increase investment in much needed intermediate and preventative care.

We are concerned that the lack of progress in delivering service improvement, together with the challenges of the Better Care Fund and the new Care Act, mean that the Council is at risk of failing to deliver good value for money in adult social care services and the best outcomes for local people.

They go on to say “We are working closely with officers to understand the barriers to progress and how they can best be addressed. The Chief Executive has recognised that insufficient progress has been made and has instituted an accelerated recovery and improvement process, working closely with the Director of Health and Wellbeing. We continue to review the Council’s arrangements to secure VFM in its use of resources. This has included reviewing the Council’s key plans and the delivery of those plans, and its financial arrangements, as well as considering the data in VFM profiles”.

scandal-23879094 Social care costs account  for the major part of Council budget expenditure.

If good value for money is not being achieved – and it appears that it isn’t with an overspend last year and a similar situation developing this year – then the whole Council budget is in jeopardy.

That could have a knock on effect on the quality of a wide range of public services provided in the City and on the level of Council Tax which will be levied in future years.

No doubt the Audit Committee will be requiring the attendance of the Cabinet members (Simpson Laing & Cunningham Cross), who have presided over this crisis, to attend their meeting and account for their actions.

Council tax leaflet

In its Tax demand – sent ot all households in the City in March – the Council said

The city’s demand for adult social care services is increasing at such a rate that by 2019/20 adult care costs are expected to account for 50 per cent of the council’s net budget. The council is investing a further £2.5m for adult care services in 2014/15, to ensure York’s most vulnerable residents are taken care of.

In 2014/15 the council will pay for approximately half the adult care cost increases through an increase in Council Tax, of 1.9 per cent, an average of 37 pence  per household, per week”.

 A full and frank explanation is now required from the Council Leadership

NB. The Council is being criticised in todays media for paying an interim Director £700 a day.

The Council has yet to reveal the costs of the two temporary appointments that it has made to cover the staff who have left the Social Services Department (or the costs of any severance package agreed for those leaving)

Highways getting worse in York

A meeting next week will hear the – not unsurprising – news that the majority of York’s highways and footpaths are declining in standard.

11% of unclassified roads (the vast majority of the City’s network) are now in urgent need of repair.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge


Only on its classified network does the City compare well to some other Yorkshire authorities.

As reported recently (see right) the Council has belatedly realised the implications of the work backlog which started to build in 2012 when the Council imposed a 37% cut in maintenance budgets.

It is estimated that there is now a £32 million back log in work.

Worn highway surface Hamilton Drive West

Worn highway surface Hamilton Drive West

The Council is now saying that it will reveal in April an additional list of streets that it hopes to resurface in the run up to next years local elections.

A list of the roads and paths currently on the list to be resurfaced before March 2015 can be found here

NB. In Westfield, the footpaths in parts of Green Lane, Wetherby Road and Cornlands Road are due to be resurfaced.

Potholes blight York roads

Despite a relatively mild winter, the number of potholes appearing on local roads continues to increase.

In the main this is a result of major cuts to maintenance investment implemented by the new Labour administration when they took office in 2011.

City of York Council

Road repairs expenditure

Year

Pothole reports

Resurfacing

Basic maintenance

Total

2012/13

2492

£1,570,000

£616,700

£2,186,700

2011/12

1566

£2,134,000

£877,200

£3,011,200

2010/11

2860

£1,706,000

£1,008,000

£2,714,000

2009/10

966

£1,604,000

£1,096,000

£2,700,000

 

The York Council will in 2014/15 return to its pre 2011 levels of investment, but for many roads the change will come too late. A poorly maintained highway costs much more to repair than one that has had some routine maintenance.

Potholes on Askham Lane

Potholes on Askham Lane

Pothole on Beagle Ridge Drive

Pothole on Beagle Ridge Drive

We believe that the Council should use the £1.3 million, that it has raised by fining drivers on Lendal and Coppergate, on dealing with the repairs backlog.

York Council “chair fairy” reaches Eco Depot

eco depot chairs

The York Councils apparently insatiable appetite for new furniture has taken a new twist.

Just 5 years after the new “eco” depot was opened at Hazel Court the Council has decided to buy a completely new set of chairs.

The move follows the purchase of new desks and other equipment for the building.

The Council was criticised before its move into West Offices for buying completely new furniture at a cost of over £2.4 million.

Amongst the purchases were 2405 new chairs.

NB. On Thursday the Council announced that it was sacking 240 of its staff.

“Get street level services right” say York budget campaigners

When the York Council meets on Thursday to set its budget, Liberal Democrats will be demanding that it “gets back to basics”.

The Council needs to switch its resources to ensure that the public services, used by residents each day, are up to standard.

It will mean postponing some of the Council Labour Leaderships “vanity projects”

These are some of the issues that we have reported this week.

Illuminated bollard missing

Illuminated bollard missing

Damaged verge

Damaged verge

Damaged verges

Damaged verges

Blocked drains in Chapelfields

Blocked drains in Chapelfields

Litter bins missing

Litter bins missing

Gutters not swept for months

Gutters not swept for months

Vehicle damage claims up 67% in York

Call for Lendal Bridge fine income to be used to repair roads

The number of claims for compensation following damage to vehicles caused by poorly maintained roads in York dramatically increased last year.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

The change followed a decision by the Labour controlled Council to reduce expenditure on highways maintenance by over £2 million.

The number of claims received, for incidents over recent years, has been

  •  2011 – 75
  • 2012 – 52
  • 2013 – 87

There are now calls for the Council to agree, at its budget meeting next week, to increase the amount it spends on maintenance back to the £5.5 million figure which was being invested each year by the previous, LibDem controlled authority.

Pressure is also growing for the £1.3 million – taken in fines from motorists on Lendal Bridge and in Coppergate – to be used to address the backlog in resurfacing works.