Garden maintenance service for pensioners set to be saved

Neglected garage areas become a magnet for fly tipping and often become overgrown with weeds and bushes

Liberal Democrat Councillors successfully proposed, at least nights budget committee meeting, that funding for the garden maintenance scheme be restored.

A Tory Councillor – who subsequently resigned from his executive position – had proposed a £46,000 cut in the budget for the service.

It meant that nearly 100 elderly and disable residents – who are physically unable to tend their gardens – would have lost Council assistance.

Now the cut has been restored.

The funding will come from the Housing Revenue Account the income for which comes from Council tenants rents.

The housing account is expected to have a £6 million surplus during the next financial year.

Elsewhere in the Councils investment capital) budget, now includes a provision for improvements to Council garage areas.

Many garage sites need to have their forecourts resurfaced, boundary fences repaired and undergrowth removed.

Nearly 100 elderly and disabled residents to lose York garden care help

The York Council has gone through today with its threat to cease the hedge and grass cutting service provided for many elderly and disabled people in the City

As we forecast, the Council is hoping to save £46,000 a year expenditure on its housing revenue account (HRA).

The HRA currently has a surplus of over £23 million and made £4.3m profit last year

The garden assistance scheme is available to tenants aged over 70 who are physically unable to cut the hedges and grass in their gardens.

The hedges are cut twice a year and the grass on 7 occasions.

409 tenants received the service in 2016.

365 received the service in 2017 following a tightening of the criteria for qualification.

It is thought that the new scheme involving use of the “handyman service” could cater for up to 306 elderly people.

The rest would not be given help. A waiting list might have to be established.

The service will in future be means rested.

The cut has been agreed by a Tory Councillor without any consultation with local Resident Associations or the citywide Tenants Federation.



Elderly in York to be hit as Tories plan to cut garden assistance scheme

Over a year ago, the York Council notified elderly and disabled people that it planned to scrap its garden assistance scheme. The scheme employs contractors to cut the hedges and lawns of elderly and disabled residents.

The plans produced a barrage of complaints and the threat was withdrawn

Now a report has 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

In the meantime, the Council’s website is down. Anyone trying to Email Councillors is referred to a web page apparently containing a list of contact telephone numbers.

That web page is also currently unavailable!


New elderly persons homes planned for Clifton plus changes for services for adults with learning disabilities

Burton Stone community centre to be demolished

New community facilities and 33 new homes for older people could be built in Clifton.

The homes include the city’s first available to buy for shared ownership on a council-built care scheme. This proposed £6.667 million scheme will meet increasing need for extra care for the city’s growing number of older residents and replaces an existing community centre.

The 29 new extra care apartments and four two-bedroomed bungalows would be built as an annexe to the Marjorie Waite Court extra care scheme. Up to ten homes could be sold on a shared equity basis, helping older homeowners – 80% of whom own their own home in York – to move to more appropriate accommodation.

It forms part of the council’s programme to increase high quality accommodation with care for rising population of older people, as agreed in June 2015.

The scheme’s tenants, local residents and groups using the Burton Stone Community Centre site were consulted on and their feedback has helped shape the proposal.

Besides using the land currently occupied by Burton Stone Community Centre to extend the extra care scheme, new community facilities will be built to meet the needs of local people, groups and Marjorie Waite Court tenants. Some of the existing users of the Burton Stone centre will move to new facilities in Burnholme, Tang Hall.

City of York Council’s Executive will also be asked to give their consent for the council to go out to the market to procure support providers that will deliver services for adults and young people with learning disabilities when they meet on Thursday 31 August.

At their meeting Executive will be asked for their consent to go out to tender for two schemes, a day base at the Burnholme health and wellbeing campus and a short breaks service, currently at Flaxman Avenue.

If they agree, Executive will be asked to delegate the award of the tenders to the corporate director of health, housing and adult social care in consultation with the executive member for health, housing and adult social care.

If approved, the day base will be part of the new Burnholme health and wellbeing campus, where building work is currently ongoing. The site, as a whole, will see over £35m of public and private sector investment and provide care, health, community and sports facilities as well as new housing and is expected to be ready in 2018.

York Council seeking “community health champion”


ElderlyAs part of work to support residents in their communities and empower people to get involved in healthy activities, the council is inviting residents to apply to be a community health champion.

The Council says that a ” community health champion is a volunteer, who with training and support from the council can help improve the health and wellbeing of their families, communities or workplaces by:

  • Motivating and empowering people to get involved in healthy activities
  • Creating groups to meet local needs
  • Directing people to relevant support and services.

As part of a pilot scheme, community health champions will work closely with City of York Council’s Public Health team and raise awareness of health messages amongst communities, support older people and help to create supportive networks and environments for residents, making a real difference to their lives”.

For more information on this opportunity visit,call 01904 553377 or email

Separately local residents groups have been told about another project.

Local Area Coordination

0511-0908-1722-5910_Black_and_White_Cartoon_of_a_man_Helping_His_Elderly_Father_clipart_imageThe Council says that “Local Area Coordination is an internationally recognised evidence-based approach to supporting people as valued citizens in their communities. It enables people to pursue their vision for a good life and to stay safe, strong, connected, healthy and in control.  As well building the skills, knowledge and confidence of people and the community.

Local Area Coordination supports people who may feel vulnerable due to age, frailty, disability or mental health needs.

City of York Council will be taking forward the programme in York and shortly be recruiting  three Local Area Coordinators to work in the following areas: Tang Hall, Westfield and Huntington & New Earswick. The Local Area Coordinators will take time to get to know you, your family/ carer and community.

If you would like to find out more and are interested in getting involved and making Local Area Coordination a success in York please come to one of our informal community awareness raising events shown below”.

  • New Earswick Folk Hall – Monday Feb 6th 4 – 6pm
  • Acomb Explore Library – Thursday Feb 9th 5 – 7pm
  • Tang Hall Community Centre – Friday Feb 10th 4 – 6pm

“It will be fine to drop in but to enable us to plan the sessions please contact Jack Derham on email to register your planned attendance.

If you have any queries please contact Joe Micheli, Head of Commissioning (Early Intervention, Prevention and Community Development) on 01904 554477 or “

At there moment there is little substance to the plans.

There are no fact sheets indicating the scale of the problem, no indication of how success will be judged and no targets.

What precisely the workers will actually do on a day to day basis has also yet to be defined.

However, anything that can be done to combat the isolation felt by vulnerable people in our community is welcome and we hope that the Council will quickly refine and explain their plans




Garden maintenance scheme failure angers York tenants

Path overgrown

Path overgrown

Council tenants entitled to free garden maintenance have been angered by delays in cutting back overgrown vegetation this summer.

The Councils housing department offers  a free gardening service for elderly or disabled council tenants who have no-one else to help, cutting grass five times and hedges twice between April and October (weather permitting).

The scheme has run for many years but periodically it seems to fall behind schedule causing substantial inconvenience for some of its vulnerable clients.

This summer we have seen one example where an elderly tenant, living in the Foxwood area, complained on five occasions that her garden was becoming overgrown and unsafe.

Following an admission to hospital, upon her return home a few weeks later, she found that the access path was overgrown – a potential hazard for the less nimble – while weeds had started to overgrow the windows.

Window engulfed by weeds

Window engulfed by weeds

Local councillors have pledged to follow up individual complaints but it seems that basic contract supervision arrangements – and complaint handling systems – have badly let down several vulnerable residents this summer

NB. The garden maintenance contract was awarded to Oakdale NE Ltd in June 2014.  The two year contract was estimated to be worth £140,000.

Dignity Action Day tomorrow

City of York Council is reinforcing the importance of treating customers receiving care and support services with dignity by supporting Dignity Action Day (Sunday 1 February).

Dignity Action Day is the brainchild of The Dignity in Care campaign, which aims to put dignity and respect at the heart of UK care services.

National Dignity Action Day aims to ensure people who use care services are treated as individuals and are given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives.

Dame Joan Bakewell, Dignity in Care Ambassador said: “Dignity Action Day highlights a more respectful way of behaving towards vulnerable people. The very old and the very young clearly need our respect, but it wouldn’t do any harm to spread the dignity message across the population then we can all benefit.”

The ‘Ten Point Dignity Challenges’ are:
1.Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse.
2.Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family.
3.Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service.
4.Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control .
5.Listen and support people to express their needs and wants.
6.Respect people’s right to privacy.
7.Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution.
8.Engage with family members and carers as care partners.
9.Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem.
10.Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation.

Meals service for elderly to be restored at Gale Farm Court

Meals at Gale Farm Court will be restarting in January following pressure from residents and new Westfield Councillor Andrew Waller.

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

The new service will be supplied via Age UK (formerly Age Concern) with freshly made meals being prepared daily.

The Council announced in September that it was scrapping the lunchtime meal option at its sheltered establishments. The move was heavily criticised for lack of consultation and it later emerged that the cost saving measure had been prompted by criticism of the quality of food provided by the previous contractor.

The Council hoped to save £50,000 by cutting meals services at its elderly persons establishments

Residents had thought that the Council were negotiating with other supplers and were stunned when the decision to scrap the service was made on 3rd September.

Despite appeals the meals stopped on 1st October – leaving residents too little time to appoint another supplier.

The Labour Cabinet member (Cunningham–Cross) refused to reply to Andrew Waller when he wrote, on behalf of residents, to ask for an extension to allow enough time for a new system to be worked out.

Andrew Waller commented

The new meals have been chosen by the residents, and they are pleased that the Council no longer manages the contract.

 Instead they are now in control and can take problems up directly with John O’Brien who is running the meals system.

It is sad that the Council treat residents of Gale Farm Court (and the other three sheltered homes run by the Council) so badly, and I hope that lessons have been learned for the future.

The Council has admitted to me that the situation was badly handled.”

The  incident has parallels with the muddle over the future of the  Castlegate centre for young people. There the Council was forced to reverse a closure decision earlier in the week and admitted that it had failed to consult properly on options.

Disabled scooter riders seek dropped kerb on Martin Cheeseman Court

Disabled residents living in flats in the Martin Cheeseman Court area have asked the Council to provide a dropped kerb.

Location of proposed dropped kerb

Location of proposed dropped kerb

At present those elderly people, who rely on battery powered scooters to get around, have difficulty getting off the footpath.

Cllr Andrew Waller has been asked to intervene and ensure that a dropped kerb is added to the forward works programme.

More revelations on withdrawal of meals service for elderly

The York Council has admitted-  in a response to a Freedom of Information request – that it did not formally consult on ending the mid day meal service at its sheltered accommodation units.


Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Instead any discussions centred around the quality of the meal on offer.

The cut was implemented on 1st October.

The Council has also blamed officials for the decision to end the meals service which it is intended will save £50,000 a year.

They say that the Labour Cabinet approved the budget cut but implementation was delegated to council officials.

The FOI response can be read by clicking here

Liberal Democrats are pressing for the meals service to be restored and have pointed to the £30,000 a year being spent on the empty Oliver House home as one source of alternative funding.

If the Liberal Democrats win the Westfield by election it is also likely that the number of £20,000 a year Cabinet posts will be reduced from the present level of eight.