Graffiti and full litter bins in Acomb reported

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.

Graffiti near Morrisons has been reported for removal
We’ve also reported a full litter bin on the Acomb car park

New graffiti policy can’t come soon enough

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.

Graffiti incidents can be reported “on line” by clicking this link

Graffiti on the Grange Lane snicket has been outstanding for several weeks.
Tagging of a junction box on Almsford Road
Boundary fences can be a target
The Council will, with the owners agreement, clear graffiti form boundary walls in future.

Issues in Albemarle Road area need tackling

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.

Solid parking along the whole length of Almemarle Road. Yellow lines almost worn away.

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.

The area is also blighted by graffiti
Back lanes in the area are covered in weed and leaf fall with some also overgrown by hedges
Another area where Council bus shelters are showing their age. This one on Queen Victoria Street has a loose electrical connection.

So what public service standards should we expect in each York neighbourhood?

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.

Service Level Agreement page 1

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.

Service Level Agreement page 2

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.

Little progress on estate improvements this year

 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

Council estate issues in central part of York

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

As well as Wlllow House, damaged street signs, graffiti and weed growth are issues in the Hope Street area.

Elsewhere the Groves area also has its fair share of problems

Graffiti on Groves Lane
Litter near the shops on Lowther Street
Graffiti on garage door in St Thomas’ Place
A lot of potholes are emerging. They are particularity hazardous for cyclists. This one is on March Street (and has been reported)

Council action plan on graffiti

The York Council has published a report indicating 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 coatings available 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.

Issues reported to York Council

While there has been some improvement in some local public services this week, we’re still finding, and reporting, a lot of local issues that require attention

ridge dumped at entrance to farmers field
A lot of local snickets like this one on Cornlands Road require more regular sweeping. Several now need to be resurfaced.
More Graffiti
…..and we’ve reported full litter bins on Beagle Ridge Drive and Acomb car park

Increase in graffiti reports in York

There has been an increase in the number of cases of graffiti reported to the York Council over the last 30 months.

During the first quarter of the financial year 20% of residents surveyed said that vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles was a problem in their local area.

This is the highest level ever recorded in responses to the Councils “customer panel” survey.

According to the Police web site, there were 119  instances of criminal damage and arson recorded in the York area during the most recent month for which stats are available (August 2019).

During the 12 month period up to August there have been 1619 reports in total.

The Council recently advertised for two new members of staff who will be responsible for removing graffiti from public locations in the City.

It is unclear whether they will also help to apply anti graffiti coatings to vulnerable walls (see right)

Councillors have access to “graffiti removal kits”.