Small things affect a City’s image

There were some raised eyebrows yesterday when the Council announced that £40,000 from a “rates pooling system” would be spent on art initiatives on the Castle car park.  

The project was touted as being integral to the consultations still taking place on the future of the “Castle Gateway” area.

 That is the consultation which started off in an exemplary and inclusive way but which is now disappearing into a mass of self-contradictions and public agonising. 

Projecting artwork images onto Clifford’s Tower will tell us little more than we already know.

So, what could £40,000 buy that might make a bigger, and probably more sustained, difference to the York visitor economy?

The answer may lie in what you see when you look out of a train window when approaching the City. The Minster dominates the skyline but lower down we have a different picture.  We have our fair share of graffiti and weed infested public spaces.

It affects the image of the City and gives an impression of neglect.

The priority given to environmental crime by the Council can be seen in a report that its executive will receive next week. It reviews the successes and failures of the last year.

Littering and dog fouling don’t merit a mention. Prosecutions for those offences are rare

The number of graffiti cases does get a passing mention. There has been a recent upward trend in reports. N

o information is provided on the number of successful prosecutions.

Graffiti reports in York

It seems that people may have stopped reporting issues because the Council refuses to address those that are on “private property”. This includes boundary walls and telecoms junction cabinets. The real impact is probably much greater than the authorities will currently admit.

Some Councillors commendably are taking local initiatives.

In Dringhouses Cllr Stephen Fenton has been out with a graffiti removal kit.

Independent Councillor Mark Warters has called for the owners of street cabinets (companies like Virgin Media) to be more systematic in getting graffiti removed quickly.

The new LibDem administration has promised to reinstate the Street Environment Officer system which worked well during the last decade when dealing with environmental crime issues.

All these initiatives are welcome.

However, an initial clean-up of all graffiti in the City followed by the deployment of camera surveillance to identify any repeat offenders would be a good way to invest any LCR funds which may be available.

Streets cleaner, reporting systems improving in York

Although there is still a long way to go, many streets in the City are noticeably cleaner than they have been in recent years. It represents a success for the Council’s revised street sweeping processes where the emphasis now is on doing a thorough job rather than concentrating on speed. 

gb-spring-clean-logo-badge-finalCommunal areas and parks are still liable to litter problems. In some parts of the City residents are getting together to promote “clean up” events on or around 4th March. A range of support items for the “Great British Spring Clean” can be found  by clicking here

The Council’s own “on line” reporting systems are also improving although only the litter response team seem to be fully up to speed. Click here to access

before-and-after-andrew litter

Help play a vital role in preserving York’s orchards

 A new citywide project which hopes to encourage more communities to play a vital role in finding and preserving orchards in York through a new York Heritage Orchard Group has launched.

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Traditional orchards are wildlife havens which contain elements of woodland, pasture and meadow grassland, and are often bordered by native hedgerows.

They are recognised as representing ‘biodiversity hotspots’ and have been identified as priority habitats through both the national and local Biodiversity Action Plans.

However, statistics from the national charity Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has found that around 90 per cent of these habitats have been lost since the 1950s.

In order to help halt this decline and to protect these important habitats, City of York Council is inviting individuals and communities to get in touch if they own or care for an orchard, which they believe may be of heritage interest to help get this new group off the ground.
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York talk on climate change ahead of United Nations conference

For_the_love_of_yorkshireExperts in the field of sustainability and climate change are inviting community groups to join them at one of several events being held across the region to talk about tackling climate change.

The special event takes place at City of York Council’s West Offices (Snow Room) from 12noon on Thursday 3 December.

The engagement session focuses on the new ‘For the Love of Yorkshire’ climate campaign and also the benefits of tackling climate change for cities and regions.

This session takes place during the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference on 30 November to 11 December, which is recognised as being one of the most important international efforts in recent years. The’ For the Love of Yorkshire’ campaign will also be taking climate messages from York to the European conference.
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Mixed response to litter clearance requests

The York Council has actioned some requests for litter to be cleared for amenity areas. Chesney’s Field now looks very tidy and workers were out on the A1237 by pass yesterday clearing litter from the hedgerows.

Chesneys Field on good day 1100 8th Oct 2015

Chesney’s field clear of litter

Meanwhile other amenity areas on the west of the City have not fared as well. Bachelor Hill is covered in empty cans while the Cornland’s park has its usual covering of detritus.

bottles, cans and litter Bachelor Hill 1200 8th Oct 2015

Bachelor Hill – still not recovered from authorised environmental dumping and now covered in detritus

Graffiti and worn path spoil entrance to Bachelor Hill

Graffiti and worn path spoil entrance to Bachelor Hill

Askham Lane entrnace to Bachelor Hill overgrown gate broken 1200 8th Oct 2015

Overgrown and damaged entrance to Bachelor Hill from Askham Lane

Detritus and damaged gate at Tennent Road entrance to Bachelor Hill

Detritus and damaged gate at Tennent Road entrance to Bachelor Hill

York shortlisted in the Low Carbon Champions awards

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City of York Council, First York Buses and Optare have been shortlisted in the Vehicle Operator category for the 2015 Low Carbon Champions awards.

The council, in partnership with First Bus York and bus manufacturer, Optare have been nominated after creating two fully electric Park&Ride routes.

New electric bus fleet

New electric bus fleet

A fleet of six buses were first introduced in June 2014 at the new Poppleton Bar Park&Ride site. This was then extended to include Monks Cross Park&Ride in May 2015.

The electric buses are helping to reduce CO2 emissions by 62 percent in real world operation according to First Bus data. The most recent data shows that when operating in service on York’s Park&Ride routes, the ‘Well to Wheel’ efficiency is 409g/km of Carbon emitted compared to a standard diesel Park&Ride bus at 1078g/km.

Cllr Ian Gillies, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: “I am delighted that the work that the council is carrying out in partnership with First York Buses and Optare is being recognised on a national scale. I hope we will be able to continue to build on this and help make York an even more sustainable city.”

Ben Gilligan, Managing Director of First York added, “We’re thrilled to be short-listed for a Low Carbon Champion Award which is recognition of the really positive impact of the electric vehicles in York. By working in partnership with City of York Council and Optare we’ve been able to provide a better environment for residents as well as continuing to deliver high quality, great value services.”

Enrico Vassallo, CEO, Optare, said, “I am delighted that our electric bus technology has been recognized and shortlisted for this prestigious industry award.  We continue to work with the LowCVP, DfT, SMMT, TfL, operators like First York and local authorities, such as the City of York Council to promote the uptake of electric vehicle technology and ensure sustained successful operation of these vehicles, whilst gaining data for the continued development of electric vehicles.”

The Carbon savings achieved through the operation of these buses complement the improvements in air quality delivered over and above Diesel bus operation, with harmful Particulate and Nitrogen Dioxide emissions reduced to zero.

The Low Carbon Champions Awards help to identify and promote examples of outstanding and innovative practice in accelerating the shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and reducing road transport emissions.

For more information on the Low Carbon Champions Awards, which are taking place on 9 September visit http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/news,shortlist-for-2015-low-carbon-champions-awards-reflects-innovation-in-green-transport_3302.htm

Cloudburst tests new local drain covers

Just a few weeks after new drain covers – which catch litter and detritus in an easy to clean grill – were fitted to some gullies in the Cornlands Road area, yesterdays downpour provided an early test.

Gulleys before and after

Garden contest posterElsewhere we are currently experiencing good growing conditions. This may be one of the reasons why the annual Foxwood Garden Competition – being judged tonight – has attracted a record number of nominations

Some hedges which have been obstructing paths have now been cut back

Hedge cut in Oldman Court

Hedge cut in Oldman Court

Other hedges are now causing problems

Hedge needs cuttng in Oldman Court

Hedge needs cuttng in Oldman Court

There seems to be no halting the advance of weeds which are now prolific almost everywhere

Weed problems on  streets like Vincent Way are increasing

Weed problems ion streets like Vincent Way are increasing

We’ve asked for detritus to be swept from some paths (see below)

Detritus to be swept from Greenwood Grove  snicket

Detritus to be swept from Greenwood Grove snicket

While the warm weather has encouraged people out onto the local communal areas not everyone has taken their litter home with them.

Litter Bachelor Hill

Weeds gaining ground in York

Each year we seem to have problems with weed growth in one part of the City or another.

Ouse Bridge 7th August 2014 Weeds take over parapit

Ouse Bridge 7th August 2014 Weeds take over parapet

As well as being unsightly, if untreated the weeds can cause damage to footpaths, roads and bridges.

Last year weeds seemed to win the war so, when the York Council said that they had completed the first of three planned applications of weed killer in May, we hoped for the best.

But today, 4 weeks later, when the weed killer should have taken effect, there are still areas which seem to have been missed.

We are not sure whether this is down to the contractors who were  employed to do the work, the type of weed killer which was used or just unfavourable weather conditions.

Whatever the reason, some action needs to be taken quickly to free our streets from this problem.

Weeds Milner Street back lane

Weeds Milner Street back lane

Weeds and dumped trolly on Dijon Avenue

Weeds and dumped trolly on Dijon Avenue

Weeds growing in Queenswood Grove gutters

Weeds growing in Queenswood Grove gutters

Rear entrance to Lowfields school site

Rear entrance to Lowfields school site

rubbish and weeds Front Street back lane

rubbish and weeds Front Street back lane