The York Council should publish daily updates “online” giving details of the progress that it is making in dealing with assistance requests.
The proposal comes after the Council issued a media release saying that it had settled £34 million worth of claims for the governments small business support grant. The claim, contained in a media release from the Council, failed to give details of the value and total number of claims received, the number and value of those processed and the number of claims where the recipient had confirmed that the money was in their account. There was no indication of the number and value of outstanding claims and how long they were expected to take to process. There was no indication how many claims had been rejected and for what reasons.
There is a similar lack of figures for business loans, rate rebates, hardship payments, food deliveries, rent rebates, ward committee payments, use levels at the “Hubs” (that the Council set up 3 weeks ago at the governments behest) as well as the volume of work that has been passed to the 3000 volunteers who the Council says it has on its books.
At the moment the Council seems to be focusing on issuing “sound bite” media releases which encourage politicians to put their own “spin” on the figures.
The Council has been criticised for poor communications. A leaflet due to be delivered 3 weeks ago has still not been received by some residents. The information in the leaflet does however duplicate information readily available via radio, TV, social media and local noticeboards.
Now it has emerged that the Council plans 3 separate leaflets delivered from next week using Royal Mail. The promised “Our City” is still not ready and there is still no “on line” database detailing the doorstep delivery options available in the City – the County Council (which covers a much larger area) has one up and running.
There is little scrutiny of what is going on. There have been no virtual Council meetings although one will have to take place in May to elect a new Lord Mayor. The obvious option of having an “on line” discussion forum has not been taken up. No Q & A “on line” sessions with the Council leadership are taking place. Some Councillors are not answering Email requests for information.
The Labour opposition on the Council, while indulging is some public hand wringing about “not being political”, is trying to move work and funding to an organisation set up by one of their party officials.
The local Labour MP is playing every issue for maximum personal publicity and political advantage. (In fairness the Outer York MP – a Conservative – has been more circumspect.
We have a continually changing situation.
Things are not “all right”.
They may be as good as could be expected in what is a unique situation.
What people need, and deserve to have, though are up to date facts.
People can then make up their own minds about whether change is needed.