Its good to see that some departments at the York Council are providing updates on public service standards. Even better, that some Councillors have chosen to brief the information on to Parish Councils and Residents Associations.
For those living in areas where Councillors maybe less “on the ball”, there follows a summary of the information provided.
The changing weather we saw this summer led to fluctuations in the rate of grass growth, which led to standards dropping below the normal at times, but generally our resources coped, we are part way through the last cut of the year on most types of grass areas.
We are part way through the last of three cuts to hedges in snickets and communal housing areas.
We have just started the planting of over 18,000 spring bedding plants in the parks, gardens and tubs across the city, these will provide welcoming colour in spring, as visitors continue to return to the city.
Summer was certainly a very challenging time for this part of our service, mainly due to the change in use of some of our open spaces and the bins in and around them.
These areas were at times covered in litter and debris due to the irresponsible actions of some residents and visitors who seemed to think that just because we were no longer in lock down, they had the right to treat the city and our staff with contempt, by leaving ‘rubbish’ strewn across these areas, something I’ve never seen before on a sustained basis.
However our team, with the help of additional resources and the Enforcement team managed to return the city to its normal standard as soon as possible on a daily basis.
We also managed to assist the Minster with their litter clearance whilst their staff were furloughed.
Highway Weed Control
I think I can say with confidence that this year’s programme of weed control has been a success we have received very few complaints and re-growth between treatments did not exceed what we would normally have expected to see.
We are now at that time of the year when not only do some members of the public throw litter about, but Mother Nature joins in, in the form of leaves!
We will be commencing our leaf clearance programme on Monday 26th October, and this is scheduled to take place for the next six to eight weeks (if my crystal ball is correct!)
The leaf clearance will be undertaken using both mechanical and manual means.
We will have two trailer drawn leaf vacuums, our teams will use these to remove leaves from pavements and grass verges.
Our two large mechanical sweepers will be targeted at streets with trees, using the local knowledge of our staff, members and reports made by residents.
These leaves cannot be recycled because they are cleared from nearby to or on the roads and are treated as contaminated waste.
As always we cannot see and clear every street at one time, so we would be grateful if Councillors could do the following:
If you aware of leaves that are causing a ‘danger’ i.e. on a major footpath, near a school, elderly persons home etc. and are wet and slippery, please report these to member enquiries, if not a ‘danger’ please monitor and we will get there!
Once the main leaf fall is over, if there are leaves, which appear to have been missed, please pass these through member enquires and we will attend to them”.
One family group of cyclists was seen wobbling down the A1237 today. Parallel routes are safer!
NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE ISSUES ADVICE TO NOVICE CYCLISTS
Police are sharing safety advice for cyclists as more people take to two wheels for their form of daily exercise.
Despite quieter roads, police are warning cyclists they still need to take safety seriously, as well as observing new rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Government measures allow “one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household”.
The government goes on to say: “When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.”
Major Collision Investigation Sergeant Kirsten Aldridge said:
“While North Yorkshire roads are quieter, there are still lots of things cyclists need to be mindful of.
“Firstly, quieter roads have led to some drivers dramatically exceeding the speed limit. While we’re trying to enforce this as widely as possible, it puts cyclists and pedestrians at significant risk.
“Secondly, the government measures make it clear that cyclists need to practice social distancing and should only ride alone or with people from the same household. Please remember that, as our officers are out on patrol ensuring people follow these rules.
“Finally, we’d remind drivers that they should always expect the unexpected around each corner, especially at the moment, and pass cyclists at a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when it is safe to do so.”
North Yorkshire Police has also noticed that many new cyclists are taking to the road, including families with children who have started cycling as their one-a-day form of exercise.
The force is sharing the following seven safety tips with novices:
Plan your journey in advance and advise someone of where you are going and when you intend to return, especially if you are cycling in a remote location.
If you are riding as a family with young children, consider riding routes with dedicated cycle paths to ensure the safety of young children and pedestrians. Please remember that if you are cycling on the roads that vehicles such as HGVs, are still regularly travelling routes in order to move much-needed supplies. Large vehicles might scare and unbalance young children on bicycles when overtaking them.
Ensure that your bicycle is road-worthy. If it has been unused for a while, ensure that the mechanisms such as brakes and gears are working and that tyres are pumped up before starting any ride. Brake failure can cause a serious collision.
Think about your positioning in the road and whether you can be seen by other road users. Wearing reflective clothing and ensuring that your bike is fitted with lights and/ or reflective discs helps with visibility. Assuming a position towards the centre of the lane where possible maximises the rider’s line of vision and means that other road users have a clear view of you.
If you are riding with protection around your face ensure that this does not restrict your head movement and that you are able to look around freely without restriction so that safety checks can be carried out.
If you’re riding with your family, help motorists overtake you with the safe distance of 1.5 metres, promoted by our Close Pass campaign, by filtering down to single file.
Effectively communicate with other road users, by using hand signals when turning left or right. Try to make eye contact with other road users and pedestrians to ensure that they have seen you.
Sgt Aldridge added: “As long as people follow the government’s rules about how they exercise and observe social distancing while they do it, we want to give people the knowledge they need to ride safely.
“North Yorkshire is a beautiful county with a strong cycling scene and 6,000 miles of roads. That’s plenty of road for everyone if all road users stick to the law, take sensible precautions and look out for one another.”
In west York they list Buongiorno (tel. 07985 797754), Bengal Lounge (tel. 01904 796666), Taverna Yamas (tel. 07960 920979), Woodthorpe Spice (tel. 01904 700070), Salsa Pizza (01904 788888), Pizza Hut (01904 606222), Tea on the Green (01904 789380) and several others.
Not sure how up to date it is.
More deaths from coronavirus at York Hospital
A total of 19 patients with confirmed coronavirus have now died at York Hospital, following a further three fatalities.
Grass cutting and weed control
This service continues.
The Council are maintaining the public highway, which includes highway verges and pavements to keep them in a safe and accessible condition, because:
• If the grass gets too long it will grow onto
pavements causing slip/trip hazards and cause sight line issues at junctions
• if weeds grow on pavements they will become unsafe to walk
• it will cause longer term damage to pavement surfaces,
causing the breakup of the surface
• If we don’t keep the weeds under control at the beginning
of the year this will put greater pressures on the service for the whole year.
All frontline staff, whether gardening or street
cleaning are working alone to ensure social distancing.
NB. Please also keep boundary hedges/tree cut trimmed
back from public footpaths
The Council says that “Staff and volunteers of
our community hubs and in the customer centre are continuing to work incredibly
hard to support residents who need it. We have attached a document (who we are
helping) which sets out who is deemed to be ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’
and the types of support we are offering them and others in communities across
The extremely clinically vulnerable above are supported by food parcels from community hubs.Government guidance on this group and how to protect and work with them Click
In terms of wider support for residents who have asked
for help with food:
Those who are generally able and financially secure
but who are not able to shop are given a list of food delivery businesses
and/or link them to the COVID-19 Mutual Aid facebook groups *
Older or disabled
residents who need help with shopping and are financially secure are
referred to specialist voluntary organisations such as Age UK, Good Gym
The medically shielded are
delivered the Government-provided food which the council supplements
especially for those with special dietary needs eg diabetics or coeliacs
People eligible for Food
Bank vouchers are sent a delivery from the food bank where appropriate
People struggling for
other reasons ie anxiety, caring responsibilities, mobility etc are
delivered a Council-sourced food box put together at the hubs.
In addition, parents of children eligible for Free
School Meals are given vouchers.
As well as this support volunteers are helping to
check on people’s wellbeing by calling individuals to check they are ok and
also chat to them for a while to help them feel they aren’t alone.
Vulnerable people who can ask City of York Council for
help on COVID19help@york.gov.uk or
01904 551550.Anyone can ask for help from COVID19help@york.gov.uk
if they don’t currently get help from CYC or the NHS, or have any
help from family or friends”.
*NB. The Council have still not published a list of shops
undertaking home deliveries despite many requests.
Morrisons now providing an “essentials” telephone ordering/doorstep delivery service for the vulnerable
Yorwaste has become the latest employer to deploy theuir
workfioece in support of street level public services.
The Council started to make payments to local businesses on
Monday. They will be working over Easter to complete the process. They are also
making checks to weed out any fraudulent claims.
We have started making payments, with several million pounds
worth of grants processed today. This is an entirely new process and we have a
duty to quality assure every payment and protect York businesses grants from
potential fraud. We have had 2,500 applications so far and need to run each one
through the government’s anti-fraud software before we can process payments;
this is to verify bank account details of organisations which have never had a
financial relationship with us before. We’ve started contacting businesses as
part of that process and appreciate your patience with us whilst we carry this
out. Please remember we will only ask you to verify your details and would
never ask you to make payments.
Support for children and young people
Kooth (www.kooth.com) is commissioned by TEWV to offer mental health and well -being support to young people in York and North Yorkshire aged 11-18 years. The service provides young people with:
An opportunity to access
support services anonymously
Access to BACP accredited
counsellors via online chat
Access on to online
articles and magazines written by counsellors
An opportunity for young
people to write their own articles and to share their story
Young people can set their
own personal goals and are supported by the counsellors online
Young people can access
the support service from any internet device, 365 days a year.
If you have significant concern regarding a vulnerable pupil please contact MASH: 01904 551900, out of hours: 0845 0349417
If parents have questions regarding childcare, i.e. OOSC/PVI please direct them to: FIS@york.gov.uk
To The Council says it is working to avoid delays to the council’s ambitious housing projects which might incur costs or slow the delivery of much-needed homes.
Following a 48-hour pause on construction at Lowfield Green (to complete a thorough risk assessment) a new site working procedure has been drawn up which allows construction of the 140 new homes to continue. The new way of working also keeps building contractor Wates’s employees and their self-employed contractors safely on site.
Momentum around resident engagement has kept going! A workshop for residents on intergenerational living moved online to involve 19 residents and officers. It used a combination of pre-recorded presentations and a live panel with local residents taking centre stage.
A confidential internal memo has been circulated to Councillors reacting to criticism of verge maintenance standards.
It also claims that the weed treatment programme is being brought forward.
A senior official says that verges are cut on 10 occasions each year between March and September. He goes on to say “as the rate of grass growth has slowed down, we are now starting to see improvements in the standard of cut, which will continue to improve as we undertake further cuts”.
Verges in the Foxwood Lane area have been subject to criticism, with one experienced local professional gardener saying that the edges are now so overgrown that they will need to be cut with a rotary cutter or strimmed if they are to recover their appearance.
On weeds, the
Council says that they are treated in May/June, July/August & Sept/Oct.
with a non-residual weed killer.
“This results in the ‘killing’ of all weeds that are
growing at the time of treatment but any that germinate after the spray has
passed will continue to grow until the next treatment later in the summer”.
“We are all aware
of the issues regarding the amount of weeds visible in certain parts of the
city, as previously stated this is due to the weather earlier in the year, we
have worked with our contractor on a number of ways to improve the situation,
as detailed below:
has deployed additional resources at their cost.
We brought the
commencement of the second treatment forward.
Our staff were
deployed last week to start to strim and remove the very large weeds from the
back lanes, as these would look unsightly even when dead”
The Council also says that the first cut of the Bar Walls – during in June – has not taken place because specialist equipment (supplied from Germany) has not yet arrived in the City
There has been no
official comment from Executive Councillors about the poor standards evident in
some parts of the City.
However one Independent Councillor – Mark Warters from Osbaldwick – Is understood to have told officials that a more professional approach to weed control is needed in the city. He says that the service should be brought back “in house”. Like many other residents, he believes that the weed killer used earlier in the year may have been washed off by rain before it had taken effect.
There is one piece of good news to report though, with several householders having cut back hedges from public footpaths over the weekend. This has reduced the number of obstructions on several streets.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the change in political control of the York Councils affairs has produced an hiatus in decision making. The published forward programme of decisions which need to be made is very thin (click to link)
They new Council Leadership is perhaps wise to be cautious and to avoid the impulsive decision making, in the wake of election euphoria, which has been the undoing of some previous administrations
However, over a month after the polls, residents are little wiser on who now has responsibility for overseeing the different aspects of Council policy and performance. All we have are vague – and seemingly controversial in some quarters – job titles.
The result is a lack of clarity with crucial street level public service standards under pressure. Surprisingly few of the new intake of Councillors have so far communicated direct with the people who elected them. A “thank you for your support” leaflet was de rigueur until recently.
As we reported yesterday, some haven’t even included a contact telephone number on their Council web page yet (click link) NB. Councillors are recompensed for telephone costs through the “basic allowance” that they receive.
Meanwhile there are issues across the whole City which should be resolved quickly. The Councils PR team should be tasked with informing residents what will happen, when and to what quality.