We understand that responsibility for implementing the new graffiti removal process has been reassigned within the York Council.
Those reporting incidents “on line” CLICK receive an immediate reference number which makes any necessary follow up easier.
The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the Council new graffiti policy although the responsible executive member does not seem to have taken any action to highlight concerns to the police, while the Council still no longer routinely takes action to apply anti graffiti coatings at vulnerable locations.
The York Council is set to adopt a new policy on graffiti removal today. It can’t come soon enough with several neighbourhoods reporting an increase in incidents.
We hope that the meeting will decide to make renewed efforts to identify those responsible. As it stands taxpayers could face a bill of £90,000 a year to remove spray point from buildings, boundaries and street furniture.
Nor has the Council been particularly prompt in meeting existing graffiti removal targets. A couple of cases in Foxwood have exceeded the 5 day removal target.
Earlier in the week some parked cars on Albemarle Road were broken into. It seems that handbrakes were also released and vehicles allowed to crash into a wall.
Parking and traffic issues on the road are not new. Some at least arises out of he lack of parking controls (it is not yet a ResPark area). Today a delivery wagon had to reverse for nearly 1/4 mile to avoid on coming traffic. A dangerous manoeuvre. With some of the parking down to commuters, the introduction of ResPark – coupled to the provision of additional “passing places” – would seem to be in everyone’s interests.
One interesting side effect of the Council report, on improving graffiti removal processes across the City, has been the re-publication of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) or “Customer Contract” for Council estates. The agreement was last reviewed in 2013 and is one of several SLAs which were agreed for different public service areas across the City.
All references to them were removed from the Council web site several years ago.
The SLAs have never formally been abandoned by the Council, but even a casual glance at some of the requirements (above), reveals failings.
The Council promises to “Publicise the dates of estate inspections on our website” & “conduct an estate inspection every three months and to show you (the tenant) the actions identified and progress with it on our web site”
Tenants will search
in vain for such information on the Councils web site.
The Council no longer even publishes the agendas & minutes of resident’s association meetings on its site. Lack of support from the Council, means that many of the listed residents associations have ceased to function.
Although the Council promises to “remove dumped rubbish within 7 days”, proactive cleansing no longer routinely takes place. A mobile “estate worker” reacts only to reported issues. This may explain the lamentable drop off in street cleansing standards in some estates this summer.
Customer satisfaction and KPI stats are not published at an
estate level. Most are not routinely shared with residents’ associations.
Good environmental standards on estates require a lot more
than litter removal, of course. Many complaints relate to poorly maintained roads,
street furniture and anti-social behaviour.
Even when problems like overgrown trees and hedges are
identified as an issue the Council fails to take effective action.
In Foxwood a list of streets
where hedges needed cutting back from public footpaths was identified 6 months ago.
The estate improvement budget was identified as a source of resources with
action to be taken over the winter period, but the work has, apparently, yet to
be authorised by ward Councillors.
The Council should review and republish all its SLAs. Performance against target should be reported frankly and regularly at least on social media channels.
That fresh approach needs to start now.It will need the committed and public support of senior managers and executive Councillors
Generally public service standards on Council housing estates in the centre of the City have been better than those experienced in the suburbs.
This is probably because core services (highway maintenance, street cleansing, grass cutting, graffiti removal etc) are more in the public eye. Consequently issues are more likely to be reported.
However there are exceptions. There is emerging evidence that service level agreement standards are not being met.
The Hope Street/Long Close Lane area has its fair share of issues. Principal among them is of course the long term empty Willow House building. Lack of progress by the Council in selling the building – which could provide housing for dozens of people – is shameful
Elsewhere the Groves area also has its fair share of problems
The York Council has published a reportindicating how it will respond to reports of graffiti in future.
Domestic properties, hit by graffiti, will be offered a free removal service. Householders will have to give written permission for the Council to undertake the work. We think this initiative is right. Simply living next to a public footpath should not involve the inconvenience and cost of having to remove unwanted graffiti from house walls.
Owners of commercial premises will be offered the same service
but will have to pay for it (£52 per sq. meter).
For the first time for over 5 years the Council has republished the current service level agreement for dealing with issues on Council estates. These were sometime called “customer contracts” in the past and were last reviewed in May 2013. It confirms that target times for the removal of graffiti. The Council will remove racist or offensive graffiti on council property within 24 hours. They will remove all other graffiti from council property within 5 working days.
The Council report is weak in two respects.
Money spent – almost £90,000 in a full year on removing graffiti – is a cost of failure. It simply shouldn’t happen. Yet the report fails to review what enforcement measures are being taken. There are no details given of prosecutions over the last few years.
Subjectively it does seem that the authorities have given criminal damage cases in general, and graffiti in particular, a low enforcement priority. Given the damage given to the City’s image by this crime, that approach needs to change in the future.
Secondly the new process doesn’t provide for preventative measures to be taken when graffiti is removed. There are anti-graffiti coatingsavailable which repel paint and allows graffiti to be removed more easily.
This is a welcome step forward by a Council which has been severely criticised for failings in street level public service standards over the summer period.
Hopefully other issues will now get similar attention.