The latest figures issued by the York Council confirm what most residents already knew.
The campaign, to get people to report service issues using a web based system, has stalled. The much hyped “report it” system has broadly the same number of users as it did 7 years ago.
Around 1500 issues are logged electronically each month. This is fewer than contacts via other channels.
Even responses to Emails are very slow these days.
The system was criticised for not being user friendly. It is still markedly more awkward to use than commercial systems like “Fix My Street“. There has been little improvement over the last 2 years with reports (other than street lighting and litter) virtually impossible to track to a conclusion. Street maps where they are included are of a very poor quality.
The new administration has specifically nominated an executive member to get a grip on digital communications.
We wish Cllr Nigel Ayre well with his task.
It is important because the cost of handling information digitally is a fraction of doing so through telephone calls or by a personal visits. Any savings on administration can be ploughed back into improving street level public services in the City.
click to view
A report has been published which analyses the reports made by members of the public using the “Fix My Street” app. The University of Sterling research report relates issue volumes to “areas of deprivation”.
The York Council decided some 5 years ago to develop its own “app” for public service issue reporting (“Report it”). However the system has never worked properly lacking the flexibility and features available in commercial systems. Only litter and street lighting reports produce an instance reference number and “job completed” notifications.
Despite promises of an early upgrade to meet modern standards none has been forthcoming.
Clearly many residents still opt for “Fix My Street” and other systems to report issues. This means that someone at the Council has to manually re-key the reports into its ageing IT system.
This is the kind of inefficiency that the Council needs to tackle if it is to invest more in actually dealing with issues *on the street”
The Stirling research – not surprisingly – reveals that road and footpath reports are by far the greatest concern of York residents.
The York Council are asking residents to tell them about how communications systems could be improved.
They say that at present many residents use the most expensive (to process) channels to communicate with the Council.
They want residents to do more “on line”
Given the lack of functionality – and unreliability – of the current “report it” system we think that the surveys timing is a but rich. They surely would have been wiser to implement and sustain improvements, before asking for feedback.
However, if anyone does have a view, they can express them by clicking this link.
Meanwhile we’ve tested the “Report It” system, now that it has been “fixed”, by reporting three issues.
Full litter bin on Beagle Ridge Drive
Plastic mats dumped on Walker Drive
Detritus on Bradley Drive snicket
Meanwhile Andrew Waller reports that the street light on Otterwood Lane has been repaired
Otterwood Lane street light repaired
Andrew has also reported problems with contaminated, missing or empty salt bins
Askham Lane salt bin almost empty
Front Street library salt bin missing
Grove Terrace litter in salt bin
A report to a meeting taking place next week reveals that a long running dispute about the Councils Customer Relations Management (CRM) system has been settled.
The wrangle, with a software supplier, has prevented the development and full roll out of the “Report It” and “My Account” systems
The implementation of the “Oracle Right Now” based system was supposed to have improved “social media consolidation and proactive management and integration across a number of back office systems facilitating automation, work allocation and monitoring”.
The Council says that phase 1 of work on the new system will be complete in about 7 months time.
This contrasts sharply with the assurances given to a scrutiny meeting in March 2016 when the proportion of customers forecast to access the Council “on line” (mainly for Council Tax and Benefit interactions) was expected to increase from 5% at March 2016, to 43% in March 2017 and to as much as 80% by March 2020.
Report more “Star Wars” than enlightening
It is far cheaper for the Council to address issues raised “on line” rather than through other options (personal visits, by telephone or Email)
No updates on these project forecasts have been provided in the latest report nor is there any comment on the financial costs to the Authority of the delays.
Council leaders have been announcing the imminent arrival of the new IT system for over 4 years. The Councils Executive last extolled its virtues at a meeting which took place on 11th February 2016
NB. The Council has told us that a glitch, which prevented some images of issues being uploaded onto their full litter bin reporting system, has been fixed.
It is not only the Council planning portal that is suffering problems.
The much vaunted – but never quite delivering – “do it online” reporting system has broken down again.
As we reported earlier in the year, anyone trying to report issues such as full litter bins will find it difficult to upload a photo of the problem. The Council actually encourages residents to provide an image of the issue being reported (to provide clarity on location and timing).
The Council site currently rejects most images offered. In turn this prevents the issue being uploaded to the Council’s Customer Relationship Management system. It is a repetition of a problem which existed when the system was first launched (and which seemed to have been fixed about a year ago)
Officials at the Council promised a fix several weeks ago but the system is still not working. Litter bin locations are, however, now shown on the site but the image upload problem persists.
Quite why the Council simply didn’t purchase “off the shelf” the well tried “Fix my Street“ system when they had the chance five years ago remains a mystery.
“On line” reporting is by far the cheapest channel of communication with the Council. It is quicker and avoids unnecessary manual intervention. It should be the preferred method of contact for routine problems.
The Council pointedly refuses to publish performance statistics on the time taken to deal with issues reported via Email to the Customer Centre (the obvious 24/7 alternative to “on line” reporting) . These are thought to be in excess of 3 days. That is simply not good enough if the alternative “on line” systems are faulty.
Rumours persist that the Councils reporting system, which was developed “in house”, has been subject to an ongoing intellectual property rights wrangle.This continues to hinder its development and roll out.
Cllr Sue Hunter is encouraging residents to adopt local verges and amenity area and plant flowers. Grants may be available from the local Ward Committee for bulbs and containers
Lowfields verge flowers
The Ward committee will be balloting residents shortly on their priorities for using the delegated budget. Among ideas put forward by residents are plans to lop trees and overgrown hedges.
Next Ward committee newsletter will include ballot paper
Overgrown trees on Kingsthorpe reported by Andrew Waller
More overgrown trees this time on Grange Lane
Trustees have now signed a formal lease for the Foxwood Community Centre. It means that the centre will be largely free from Council control but will have to raise most of its income from lettings. It is now run entirely by volunteers.
Cllr Stephen Fenton Dringhouses ward (extreme left*) and Cllr Sheena Jackson Westfield Ward (extreme right*) and Trustees sign the Community Centre lease on Wednesday. (*not politically!)
Meanwhile Sheena has been out and about in the Foxwood area reporting issues for attention
In the Cornlands Road area, while out delivering the latest Focus newsletter, we spotted several issues requiring attention. These included offensive graffiti on the Tithe Close snicket. Issues have been reported using https://www.fixmystreet.com/
We’ll be keeping an eye on drainage and gutter channels as trees begin to shed their leaves. There is an almost continual problem in St Stephens Square
It’s some times difficult to know whether an item has been dumped or left out for the scrap merchant
Andrew Waller has commenced a survey of the Askham Lane/Grange Lane area
Survey launched this weekend
One of the issues being probed is whether residents would like to see kissing gates installed on the accesses to the local parks and open areas. At present there are problems with motorcyclists riding near where children play
JRFH have come back to us quickly to confirm that the damaged grass areas on Wenham Road (below) form part of the adopted public highway. We have suggested that they be hard-surfaced as part of the Ward Committee programme later this year. JRFH confirm that they are a little behind with general green area maintenance activities this summer but hope to catch up with garden inspections, hedge cutting etc shortly.
Damaged verges in Wenham Road need bitmacing.
Meanwhile there has been an increase in the amount of flytipping in the area. This has been a trend since the Beckfield Lane recycling centre was closed in 2012. This is disappointing as Westfield is one of the few parts of the City to get regular visits from mobile skips The next ones are due in Rogers Court and on Bramham Road this Saturday
Bath and seat fly tipped on Foxwood Lane near ravine. CCTV footage will be scrutinised to see if the culprits can be identified. The “on the spot” fine for fly tipping was recently raised to £400.
Cllr Andrew Waller has also been out and about tackling issues raised by residents. These are some he found and reported
Fly tipping in Gladstone Street back lane
Rubbish in Barkston Avenue
Overgrown hedge in Chapelfields
Cornlands Road overgrown hedge
Cornlands Road overgrown hedge
You can report issues to the Council using the following web site https://www.fixmystreet.com/
We’ve been out and about in the Lowfields area today. Although public services are generally better than they were a year ago there are still some issues.
It appears that the Council is not routinely cleaning cul do sacs and difficult to access areas like garage forecourts.
Below are some issues that we have reported using @fixmystreet
Detritus on carriageway in Harold Court. We have also reported the faded street sign
The rear entrance to the former Lowfields school on Tudor Road needs weeds clearing and detritus sweeping up. The cul de sac is much improved since the paths were resurfaced last year
The area around the entrance to the Lowfields School site on Dijon Avenue needs a good clean up.
The Dijon Avenue garage area has been untidy for over a year. There have been problems with dumping while potentially hazardous thorn hedges are overgrowing the area.
We’ve been out and about dealing with issues in the Westfield area over the weekend. Generally local services are better then they were 12 months ago with streets tidier, verges trim and most gutters cleaner.
We’ve reported the following issues using the “FixMyStreet” app.
About 2 inches of detritus in one of the gutters in St Stephens Sq. Seems to have been missed by the sweepers (there was a similar problem in Hammerton Close)
Detritus on the Tedder Road park footpath
Weeds in Tithe Close. We’ve found several areas where weed-killer has either not been applied or it has proved to be ineffective
In response to a Freedom of Information request the Council has confirmed the service standards it will be applying this summer.
The standard grass cutting frequency for adopted highways areas is now 10 per year (reduced from 14 a couple of years ago). This can – depending on the weather – result in the grass growing quite high.
Adopted streets include grassed amenity areas such as Kingsthorpe and Otterwood Lane.
The response to the request also revealed that some areas of land owned by the Council – including the area behind the library on Front Street – receive no routine maintenance at all.
The Council currently does not provide details of its service level agreements on its web site.
Customer Contracts – where the Council tells residents what level of service quality to expect – also fell into disuse several years ago
New road sweeper
Weed killing by quad bike
After a poor few years there are signs that some of the street level public services provided by the York Council are beginning to improve.
Last year saw parts of the City engulfed in weeds.
This year a quad bike is already zipping round the area applying weed killer to paths and gutters.
Blocked drainage gulley in Hammerton Close
Litter and detritus is also another major problem as these photos show.
We hope that the new specialist street sweeping machines (above left) will soon make an impact…and that the Council has thought through how it will cleanse difficult to access areas.
We hope that the York Council will also make its street cleansing – and weed control – timetables available on their web site. Taxpayers should know how often they can expect their streets to be swept
Detritus at Grange Lane cycle path entrance
Detritus in Chapelfields Road garage area
Litter in Walton Place snicket
We continue to report any issues that we see using the excellent “Fix my Street” web site