We’ll get an idea of the calibre of the newly elected York Councillors
this week when they begin to consider how to scrutinise the management performance
of the local authority.
A series of updates are being presented.
A typical reportis being tabled on housing and community safety issues on 24th June.
What is immediately clear is that no performance indicators have
been tabulated (or referenced out). Councillors aren’t being told how long it
takes to do things, what any backlogs are, what quality checks are in place or
what the levels of public satisfaction are.
Some of the information is available on York Open Data but you have to search for it. Many of the figures are not up to date.
Some major issues are not mentioned at all.
The housing section fails to even mention empty Council
garages, tenants don’t feel they can influence decisions (most tenants organisations
have folded) and there are delays on the Housing Estate Improvement programmes.
Similarly on community safety (mainly policing matters) anti-social
behaviour in sub-urban areas hardly gets a mention. Trends in drug and alcohol
abuse are not quantified. Vandalism, criminal damage, graffiti, all of which disfigure
residential areas, are ignored. The trend in the number of prosecutions for this
type of offence and similar environmental crimes (litter, dog fouling) is not revealed.
The challenge for new Councillors will be not so much to question
the information that has been provided by officials, but more to probe the
areas where reports are silent.
The Council have appointed Transcore Ltd to build the 5 new bungalows scheduled to be constructed on the site of the Newbury Avenue garages.
The value of the contract is £731,505.90. It is understood that separate contracts are being awarded for other work such as the demolition of the existing garages.
The works are currently held up following an administrative mistake which meant that movement of telecoms equipment, which needed to be moved before alternative parking provision could be made, wasn’t ordered soon enough.
The Council contract for the bungalows gives a target completion date of 3rd September 2019.
We understand that when demolition contractors removed the garage doors at Newbury Avenue they found a stolen car in one unit.
Separately, the Council have been served with a Freedom of Information request which seeks to explore why some Council garages have been left unused despite there being a waiting list of potential renters.
The Council has an inconsistent approach to providing tenants and residents with information. Housing staff rarely provide up to date information for the many public noticeboards that exist around the City.
Council web site garage leaflet. Not updated for over 6 months
Even the Council web site is sometimes hopelessly out of date.
For example, last year there was a major row when it was discovered that dozens of Council garages were lying empty despite there being a long waiting list of people wanting to rent them. The Council promised that information would be updated regularly.
6 months later and the leaflet displayed on the Councils web site has not been updated.
Potentially thousands of pounds a year in rental income is being lost while complaints about inadequate street parking continue to grow.
…and even “Streets Ahead” isn’t being used to advertise the garage vacancies.