Ward highway improvements list published – nothing for Westfield?

It looks like the Westfield area has been snubbed in the latest highways maintenance budget allocations.

In another “behind closed doors” decision, tens of thousands of pounds, from “delegated” ward budgets, has been allocated for highway and footpath repairs plus some other work  like new parking laybys.

Areas benefiting are Bishopthorpe, Clifton, Copmanthorpe, Dringhouses, Fishergate, Guildhall,  Heslington, Heworth, Hull Road, Holgate, Huntington, Micklegate and Rural West.

One of the roads omitted from repair programme

The absence of Westfield from the list is doubly surprising.

Some local roads are in an appalling condition.

Local Councillors were given lists of problem locations over 6 months ago.

Poor weather in the intervening period has seen some surfaces – such as those on the Morrell Court access road – deteriorate quite markedly.

The report to the decision meeting gives details of how much money is available for local ward Councillors to manage.

It also explains the assessment process.

The Ward Highways Capital Scheme is a four-year programme formed from £250k p.a. of capital resources set aside from the main Highways Capital Programme. It is designed to allow wards to bring forward schemes that are important to local residents but would struggle to be prioritised as part of the main capital programme. A nominal allocation is made to each ward on a population basis. Wards are able to aggregate their allocation by carrying over / bringing forward annual allocations in order to undertake more substantial schemes.

The programme was enhanced in 19/20 through the allocation of the following one-off amounts to it:

  • £500k to use for highways improvements in respect of Roads and Footways
  • £500k to use for Walking and Cycling improvements

(NB. Details of how the walking and cycling budget is being spent were published a couple of weeks ago. Yet again no projects in the Westfield area were agreed).

The Council says the aim is to use this funding flexibly to meet the needs of wards whilst taking account of all relevant legislation and statutory guidance as highways are heavily regulated environments.

The following process is used to identify schemes:

  • Community Involvement Officers liaise with ward councillors, residents and key partners to identify potential schemes
  • The Highways team bring forward condition surveys, customer requests, and safety audits for consideration by wards to help inform their decision-making together with information showing the roads in the ward that are to be repaired through the main capital programme
  • Ideas are taken to a ward walk-about for initial consideration followed, where appropriate, by detailed feasibility work and any appropriate community / statutory consultation
  • The Highways team then form the prioritised ideas as far as possible into a coherent capital programme”

Wards not receiving an allocation were Acomb, Haxby, Heworth Without, Hull Road, Holgate and Westfield.

The list of improvements that have been agreed can be viewed by clicking here

York Council plans more devolution to residents

The York Council says that it will give more powers to local residents to influence how resources are used in 4 key public service areas.

They are:

  • Increased ward budgets.
  • A “Safer Communities” fund to meet residents’ priorities.  
  • More ward control of spending on highways to meet residents’ priorities
  • Timely delivery of Housing Environmental Improvement Schemes (HEIP). NB.These are tenant funded.

The plans are broadly to be welcomed.

Over the last 8 years the number of locally determined improvement schemes has declined while those that have been approved have faced unacceptable delays in implementation.

One set of new parking laybys in the Westfield area took over 4 years to plan and construct.

Askham Lane lay by took 4 years to complete

A report to the Councils executive meeting this week, paints a confused picture of what is wrong with the current “ward committee” process and what might replace it.

Councillor dominated “Ward teams” will stand in for residents associations where the latter do not exist.

£250,000 has been allocated to wards for them to spend making local communities “safer”. Although joint working with the police is proposed, the major issue – an institutional reluctance to expand the use of technology solutions such as CCTV – remains. So, the most that residents will likely see will be “target hardening” style initiatives.

Two additional staff members are to be employed helping to administer ward committee improvements. Last year £157,000 of ward budget was not spent. This is put down to process delays.

£500,000 is being allocated for local highways improvements (road and footpaths). A further £500,000 is allocated for “walking and cycling” improvements. The irony, that better highways maintenance is the best way of encouraging safe walking and cycling, appears to be lost on the report authors. 

Perhaps School Street will now be resurfaced?

The £1 million simply should be added to the road and footpath resurfacing budget.

The budget is classified as “capital” meaning that it must be spent on an asset with a long lifespan. That would seem to rule out a crash programme aimed at removing the trees, hedges and weeds which obstruct many existing foot and cycle paths.

 The idea of recognising and responding to local concerns is the right one though.

Poor highway maintenance is invariably the most criticised local public service in residents satisfaction polls.

The Council plans to introduce a “6 stage” process in allocating the estate improvement budget.  As the main criticisms of the existing process is that it is cumbersome and slow, the introduction of additional bureaucratic stages is unlikely to be welcomed.

The report talks of the provision of parking lay-by taking up to 24 months to complete. In the past, the use of contractors had cut this target time down to less than 4 months. Councils should return to the old procedure where Residents Associations/Parish Councils took responsibility for drawing up improvement lists.

Walton Place footpaths need repairs

Finally, the report talks of using a mechanistic formulae for assessing the “social value” of each project. As a way of spending scarce public resources this is a discredited approach. The value of projects can best be determined by door to door surveys thus giving residents a chance to directly influence their neighbourhood.

The report does not propose any PFIs to monitor progress on any of these programmes.

It does, however, require decisions to be made in public and with a public record. Regular “on line” updates are proposed (although these have been  promised in the past but have never been produced in a timely or accessible way)

There are no proposals which would provide better support for Residents Associations. The Council recently refused to even publicise RA activities on its web site.

How much locally?

The Council has published a list indicating the amounts that will be available to spend in each ward. In Westfield (one of the largest wards) during the present financial year that totals £55,878  

With highways (£63,830) and safer communities fund (£17,181). That figure increases to nearly £120,000 over 4 years.

 To put that into context a 4 space parking bay costs around £10,000, while the resurfacing of Stonegate is costing £1/2 million this year.

Where the roadworks will be in York

The York Council has said where they hope to undertake resurfacing work over the next few months.road works

The list does not include any supplementary work which may be scheduled as a result of the recent decision of the Council to increase the highways budget.

  • Huntington Road: scheduled 10th – 14th August (from the junction with Monkgate roundabout to a point approx 25m north of Lowther Street)
  • Westwood Terrace: scheduled 10th – 14th August (from Albermarle Road to No.31 Westwood Terrace)
  • Main Street, Copmanthorpe: scheduled 10th – 21st August (from the junction with Wilstrop Farm Road to points just beyond war memorial: Trowel House Farm; and No.3 Main Street)
  • Huntington Road (Sessions): scheduled 24th August – 4th September (from No.398 to roundabout)
  • South Lane, Haxby: scheduled 24th August – 4th September (from junction with Old Orchard to Headland Close)
  • Outgang Lane: scheduled 7th – 11th September (from Murton Way to Traveller’s site)
  • Field Lane: scheduled 7th – 11th September (from University Road to Church Lane)
  • Kirkcroft / Churchfield Drive: scheduled 7th – 11th September (from Greenshaw Drive to Minster View, including Churchfield Drive)
  • Knavesmire Crescent / Queen Victoria Street: scheduled 7th – 11th September (from Queen Victoria Street to end of cul-de-sac section; and Queen Victoria Street from Curzon Terrace to Albermarle Road)
  • B1363 Wigginton Road: scheduled 7th – 18th September (from just north of the railway level crossing to a point just to the south of the signalised junction with Clifton Moor Gate)
  • Hallcroft Lane, Copmanthorpe: scheduled 7th – 18th September (from Horseman Lane to Manor Heath – including parts of crossroads with Manor Heath)
  • B1228 Elvington Lane: scheduled 14th – 18th September (from Halifax Way to Common Lane)
  • Long Ridge Lane: scheduled 14th – 18th September (from Millfield Lane to Station Road)
  • Wetherby Road, Rufforth: scheduled 14th – 18th September (from Hannam Lane to a point just to the west of Mill Lane)
  • A1036 Jewbury: scheduled 21st September – 2nd October (from the Layerthorpe signalised junction to Cloisters Walk)
  • Cranbrook Road: scheduled 28th September – 9th October (from Cranbrook Avenue to Almsford Road)
  • Wheldrake Lane: scheduled 5th – 9th October (from the Westhouse Farm access road, travelling south through the first right hand bend, to a point just before the next left hand bend)
  • Chestnut Grove: scheduled 12th – 16th October (from Granger Avenue to Beech Grove)
  • Bishophill (Junior): scheduled 19th – 23rd October (from Priory Street to Bishophill Senior)
  • Bad Bargain Lane: scheduled 26th – 30th October (from Fourth Avenue to Burnhome Grove)
  • Hornsey Garth: scheduled 2nd – 6th November (full length, from junction with St Nicholas Way)
  • Trinity Lane: scheduled 9th – 13th November (from Micklegate to Fetter Lane)
  • Howard Drive, Rawcliffe: scheduled 2nd – 27th November (from junction with ‘smaller’ Shipton Road, adjacent to No.202, to a point just to the southwest of the junction with Vernon Road)
  • Fulfordgate: scheduled 18th January – 19th February (from Heslington Road to school entrance, possibly to include first three concrete bays into Eastward Avenue)
  • A59 Holgate Road: scheduled 29th February – 11th March (from The Mount to Cambridge Street)