UPDATE The Council now seems to BE back tracking. It says that the communication it issued earlier today was “only the first step in consultation”. The following is an extract from that the earlier communication. Make you own mind up whether you think it sounds like consultation
The cost of the scheme was extremely high and unsustainable, so we are exploring other ways to provide a service to the most vulnerable in future, in partnership with charities and volunteers. Unfortunately, this won’t be in place this year so as an interim measure we will be providing the most vulnerable tenants with a payment of £200 that they can use to contribute towards the cost of maintaining the garden this year.
From information we have on Housing Management systems, we have filtered customers into those we believe would not meet the new criteria and those that would with the appropriate letter going to these customers. Housing Management Officers will be visiting all customers that as part of the Health and Wellbeing visits, to ensure that all tenants who genuinely have no option than that provided by The Council. Once HMO’s have confirmed eligibility the payment will be arrange to be made early in the new financial year.
The Council is now saying the proposal will go to a decision meeting in April
The Council has, however, admitted that it has already posted the letters to tenants!
EARLIER It looks like the Council will refuse to help elderly tenants who are unable to maintain their own gardens. Until this year elderly and disabled tenants had received help in cutting hedges and lawns through a garden help scheme.
Now a housing official has said that the garden help scheme has been abandoned.
The proposal to abandon the tenants has not yet been considered by the Councils’ Executive.
Only last week the Council announced that it would make a surplus of over £3 million on its council housing rent account this year. It holds an accumulated surplus on the account of over £20 million with a rent increase pending.
The garden care scheme has been in existence for several decades. It provides a basic gardening service for those on limited means who are unable to do heavy work themselves and who do not have anyone else that they can turn to for help.
Now the official has said that the scheme is being scrapped with immediate effect. The most seriously disabled will be offered a payment of £200 which the Council says can be used to employ someone to undertake gardening work.
The Council also talks loftily of setting up a scheme of “volunteer gardeners” to assist. They accept that this is not yet in place.
As well as the welfare of sick and elderly people, another concern is the effect that overgrown hedges will have on local neighbourhoods. There are already complaints about lack of maintenance in some estates.
There has been no consultation with residents or tenants organisations in the City.
Whereas previous attempts to jettison the service were initiated by Tory Councillors, the latest proposal comes under the stewardship of Green Party Councillor Denise Craghill. To what extent she has been party to the plan is unclear.
Liberal Democrat Councillors in wards like Westfield, which has a high proportion of Council tenancies, are likely to be put under extreme pressure to block any changes until alternative arrangements can be put in place.
Temporary measures introduced to protect York’s busiest city centre spaces from terrorist attacks could be made permanent by City of York Council next week.
The Council’s Executive will consider the results of a trial restricting vehicle access to the busiest city centre streets during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00) at its meeting next Thursday (29 August)
The Councils consultation revealed major conflicts with the wishes of groups representing disabled people
It has been criticised by a former Tory Councillor who said on social media “Almost everyone wants to pedestrianise our city centre. It should be about improving it and supporting business growth in difficult times…not terrorism”
Changes were introduced last November following police counter terrorism advice for long-term measures to combat the ongoing threat of ‘vehicle as weapon attacks’ like those seen recently in Toronto, London and Nice.
If approved, a sliding bollard system would restrict access to Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, High Ousegate and Spurriergate, Coney Street, Davygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate during footstreet hours (10:30-17:00).
The Executive introduced the measures on a temporary basis to allow for work to understand the impact of restricted access on key groups, including disabled people and others with limited mobility within a core part of the city centre.
The council commissioned studies of how blue badge parking changed throughout the period, alongside a series of workshops with individuals and groups representing disabled people in York.
In addition to the available parking on the streets next to the restricted area, the executive will consider mitigation proposals including:
• continued access to St Sampson’s Square for Dial and Ride services
• creating blue badge parking on the traffic-restricted section of Piccadilly, and converting the taxi rank to blue badge parking during the day time (10:00-18:00)
• extending the parking time restrictions outside Explore on Museum Street from 2 to 3 hours
• supporting marketing efforts for alternative services like Shopmobility and Dial and Ride
*If approved, the Piccadilly changes would be subject to a traffic regulation order change. The proposed changes would be advertised for up a three week period to allow for objections before a decision can be made.
Experiments with rising bollards in the past in York have encountered reliability issues. Reliability and maintenance costs are not considered in trhe Council report.
City centre future
The same meeting will consider launching a consultation exerciseon the future of the City centre retail area. The area has change a lot in recent years with several shops being replaced by pubs and restaurants.
Problems with drunken behaviour have increased.
If approved, an engagement exercise “following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme”, would begin in the new year.
This would deliver a “strategic vision for the city centre to guide future development, regeneration and investment decisions”.
The proposal has the support of the York BID and “Make it York”.
The Council report fails to address the needs of sub-urban high streets like Front Street
Proposal for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children
Areportis being discussed next week which is expected to result in confirmation of plans to close the Windsor House elderly persons home on Ascot Way. Theproposalwas first discussed in September and now Council officials are reporting back on the discussions that they have had with residents, their relations and staff.
5 residents have recently moved out leaving 17 to find new homes. The Council says that there is currently a good supply of alternative accommodation options available including Glen Lodge.
The care home has 33 staff in total, the majority of who work part time.
The main criticism of the closure relates to timing. Promised modern elderly care facilities on the west of the City will not be available for 2 or 3 years.
Hedges blocked view and light from Lincoln Court flats in the summer
Considerable concerns have been expressed by residents of the adjacent Lincoln Courtsheltered development.
These self-contained flats which include some communal space, are not included in the closure plans. However, the building has been allowed to deteriorate recently. Window frames are rotten, while an ongoing criticism has been about poor management of parking facilities. Some boundary hedges weren’t cut in the summer, effectively isolated the elderly residents from the rest of the community.
York must do better in the way that it treats its tenants at Lincoln Court. They need to be given
assurances about the future of their flats as well as a date when modernisation works will commence.
The future of the Windsor Garth site
The Council has unveiled what seems to be a caring and imagination use for the Ascot Way site when the existing buildings have been demolished.
The report describes a possible state of the art facility for disabled children
“Should Windsor House close, the site could be redeveloped as the location for the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their Families, for housing or sold.”
Just as society doesn’t always treat the elderly as well as it should, the same could be said of people with disabilities. The principle of the proposed facility would therefore be welcome.
However, there are two significant issues to be addressed before any further development is considered in this neighbourhood.
Traffic congestion and lack of off street parking are now major problems.
They have worsened since 66 additional homes were built on the Hob Stones site and were exacerbated by the Council decision not to let the garages in Newbury Avenue pending the redevelopment of that site. The two issues are linked with inadequate “on street” parking space making access difficult even for the bus service.
There have been calls to introduce a “one way” system or even reopen the second access from Kingsway West.
Whatever the solution may be, one must be found before any development takes place which could further increase vehicle movements in the area.
The plans produced a barrage of complaints and the threat was withdrawn
Now a reporthas revealed that a Tory Councillor is again planning to slash entitlement to the service. About 50% of current users will be told to make other arrangements.
It appears that some people aged over 70 with severe disabilities may continue to get the service from an estate “handymen”, but many others will miss out.
Story last year
The cuts are expected to save the Council around £40,000 a year.
The Tories claim that this cut is essential to balance the books. They forget that last week a review of the Housing Revenue Account revealed that it will have an average credit balance of over £30 million in each of the next 30 years.
This partly arises from the expected 1% per annum real terms increases in rents.
As well as kicking existing users off the programme, the report talks of establishing a “waiting list” for people who need the service.
The Councillor responsible for the proposal is Sam Lyle a youth who recently graduated from University. Quite what he knows about the challenges faced by many older residents will no doubt become clear over the next few days.
Fortunately, as we have reported before (left), there are a lot of caring students at the York and St Johns Universities who hopefully will prove to be part of the solution to this shabby proposal
Plans to create a Safe Place Scheme for disabled people, including people with mental health issues are taking shape.
The nationally recognised Safe Place Scheme gives people a short term ‘Safe Place’ to go if they are feeling threatened when out and about in their local area.
It enables public spaces (such as shops, cafés and libraries) to be designated as safe and supportive places where disabled people can go if they are having difficulty, feel lost or frightened.
York Independent Living Network (YILN) – a local disabled people-led organisation – has received funding from the City of York Council to set up a steering group with representation from community organisations and local authorities to take the scheme forward in York.
The steering group will develop resources for the Safe Place Scheme, recruit venues to become Safe Places and make recommendations to the council and the police to help maintain the Safe Place Scheme. (more…)
A new phase of recruiting foster carers in York is rolling out this month with an emphasis on the need for foster placements for severely disabled children.
City of York Council has vacancies for short breaks carers to help children and young people with disabilities, as part of a regular and supported package of care for them and their family.
The breaks can be anything from a few hours to a few days or up to a month, for children with a permanent and substantial impairment or illness. Carers are supported to involve the children to take part in family or local activities, make new friends and gain independence. This gives families a break from caring plus the reassurance that their child is safe and enjoying positive new experiences.
People with room in their home, hearts and schedule for these special breaks are trained, fully supported and equipped throughout. Many decide to offer short breaks after having had experience of caring for their own or other children with a disability or having had a professional role in education, social care or nursing.
These contract foster carers are paid to provide a series of short breaks during the year for up to seven different children and are allocated time off to recharge their own batteries, as part of their remuneration package.
The council’s Short Breaks team has immediate vacancies and is eager to hear from committed individuals who believe that they have the spare time, energy and commitment to offer short breaks fostering in their own home.
The council’s Fostering Team is also keen to recruit people interested in offering a caring and loving home for children who are looked after away from their families. Short time fostering – up to 12 months – and longer term fostering – until young people reach adulthood – is needed, especially for those who can care for teenagers and young people with additional needs. The remuneration, training and support is substantial.
Jo Clarke, a York foster carer and forensic psychologist, said: “I started my fostering career when my daughter was six. We provided short breaks to a six-year-old girl who had special needs and was living at home with her family. It felt amazing to be able to offer this support to the family who might otherwise have had to consider residential care for their daughter. Bizarrely sometimes the more challenging it was, the more worthwhile it felt, because you realised how much the family needed a break. It was also hugely beneficial to my daughter, who has grown up with a real understanding of disability and a much stronger appreciation of what she’s got. This was such an overwhelmingly positive experience, that we decided to take another step and now we are full time, permanent foster carers to a young man who came to us four years ago, when he was eight. My daughter says fostering has been the best thing ever and has shaped who she has become. For me, I can’t imagine any job more rewarding.”