York Council “Behind closed doors” decisions – summary

The new Council seems to be struggling to introduce more open procedures as quickly as many had hoped.

BehindClosedDoors 2015

Understandably procedural change has to find its way through the formal processes of the Council – and might even involve amendments to the Constitution – but the lack of an early statement of intent is likely to become an increasing irritant to some residents.

Several relatively minor decisions have been taken over the last week. In each case the agenda and background  papers were published after the decision had been taken.

It takes very little effort to ensure that agendas appear on the Council web site in advance of meetings taking place. Whether those decisions – which involve only Council officials – need for some reason  to be insulated from the comments of taxpayers may be a matter of opinion.

This week the following decisions have been recorded (click to access what background information the Council has chosen to publish)

  1.  Award of 4 Year Term Contract to Redhill Analysts Ltd to undertake Asbestos Surveys, Air Monitoring to the social housing portfolio; Director of Communities & Neighbourhoods
  2.  Award of 4 Year Term Contract to Gentoo Construction Ltd to undertake Asbestos Removals to the social housing portfolio; Director of Communities & Neighbourhoods
  3.  Heslington Lane, Broadway – Hull Road Ward and Fulford and Heslington Ward; Director of City & Environmental Services This decision concerned a plan to advertise parking restrictions on Heslington Lane
  4. Burdyke Avenue Improvement Scheme – Follow Up; Director of City & Environmental Services This decision concerned the length of a parking lay-by which is being constructed on Burdyke Avenue




Secret decisions on bus shelters and road improvements

Behind closed doors logo

Following the move not to allow Cabinet members to take decisions in “private” sessions, the gap has been filled by Council officials who are queuing up make the most use that they can of  their “delegated” powers.

Rougier Street

This week, the much delayed project to replace the (admittedly odious) bus shelter on Rougier Street next to Roman House was formally shelved.

Developers had been planning to convert Roman House into flats. There were concerns that a new shelter might be damaged during building works.

It now appears that the flats project has been abandoned and new owners are looking into providing a hotel on the site.

The scheme is being funded by the – time limited – “better bus fund” . This is the same fund that the Council misused to subsidise their ill fated Lendal Bridge  adventure.

With little prospect of the development on Rougier Street starting in the near future. it would have been sensible to divert the funds into sub-urban areas where bus stop and information facilities have had little improvement during the last 4 years.

Instead officials decided to mothball the project. (Their decision rather strangely refers to the shelter being located in the Skelton ward !!)

St Leonards

Separately – and not yet formally reported to the Council – we understand that improvements to the Theatre Royal bus stop have also been suspended. Apparently English Heritage were concerned that the works might endanger the adjacent listed buildings.

The improvements to the Theatre frontage include glazing the area between the columns.

It appears however that these glazing panels – rather  than filling in the gaps in between the masonry – will actually be recessed further back.

This raises concerns that a litter trap – or worse – is being constructed.

Clifton Moor

Clifton Moor link foot and cycle path click to access

Clifton Moor link foot and cycle path click to access

Plans to connect the two sides of the Clifton Moor retail park are being redesigned following the opening of the DFS store.

A new combined cycle/foot path has been approved. The  costs will be born by developers and land owners.The design is reproduced right

Burdyke Avenue plan click to enlarge

Burdyke Avenue plan click to enlarge

Burdyke Avenue

Obstructions on Burdyke Avenue have been causing delays to local bus services. The Council plan to install a parking lay-by with associated parking restrictions. Telecoms equipment in the verge means that the project will cost £55,000. 

The plan doesn’t provide any additional parking space and an alternative, which would have utilized gardens for parking, does not appear to have been fully explored.

Estate car parking is an increasing issue.

Labour slowed the improvement programme when they took office in 2011. Until then most wards had allocated money for  dropped kerbs, lay-bys and off street parking near flats.

The installation of matrix reinforcement on verges was also being developed as a way of protecting them.

In a further leap back into the dark ages, it appears that the convention that the spokespeople for each Group represented on the Council (together with local ward members) are given the opportunity to comment, before delegated decisions are taken, has also now been abandoned.