Die Horibilis

Been a horrible day for the Council with many more missed bin collections.

Recycling collections were missed in Haxby, New Earswick, Strensall and Wigginton.

Green waste bins weren’t emptied in Haxby, Wigginton and Strensall. The bins not emptied in Woodthorpe on Tuesday still haven’t been collected.

Household waste wasn’t collected in part of Holgate (blocked access).

Sources inside the Council point to continuing difficulties in recruiting staff including drivers. There has still not been any statement from the Council leadership about this issue or why replacement vehicles haven’t been introduced into the fleet.

More trees and wild flowers

How not to do it

The new York Council has rightly decided to plant more trees and expand the areas devoted to wildflowers with good propagation features.

More trees will help , in a modest way, to offset the losses both locally and internationally which have occurred over recent years.

The plight of bees robbed of propagating flowers in urban environments, because of increased hard surfacing and use of herbicides, is well documented.

The Council does however need to understand that such a policy is not a cheap alternative . The authority will need to plant the right species of trees to match the needs of specific locations. Too many well intended “plant a tree in 83” type schemes resulted in the wrong type of tree being planted in the wrong location.

This is particularly true in the case of highway trees (those in verges) where lack of regular maintenance has meant that many have grown the point that they interfere with passing vehicles, overhead plant or neighbouring properties. The only pruning that they get is from high sided vehicles which sooner or later impact on branches often sending them crashing down onto the highway.

High winds can have a similar effect.

The problem can be traced to an inadequate maintenance budget. This was given a modest boost in the Council most recent review.

Before planting more trees – there are plenty of spaces where new mini forests could be created in and around the City – the Council should first sort out its existing stock

On Balfour Street a (self seeded?) tree has been allowed to spread to the point where it is absorbing the adjacent railings and destroying the public footpath. It has been reported on several occasions with out a response from the Council. An obvious case for the local ward committee to use its delegated budget to tidy up the area.

For some people wildflowers are synonymous with pervasive weed growth. We have seen the neglect of highways over the summer although some lobbyists have argued that the weed growth will at least be “good for nature”.

We doubt that, with damage to paths and drains likely to pose an expensive hazard.

But there are locations where the Council could proactively plant low maintenance flowers which would greatly increase propagation opportunities.

The authority will need a proactive programme which will need to include a commitment to the long term maintenance of any planted areas.

This area next to the Leeman Road cycle track is actually paved. Neglect means that is has gradually become overgrown. If it serves no landscaping purpose, then the paving could be removed and a good propagating, low maintenance, plant such as lavender, could be substituted.

So who will win the York Council elections

Heworth Without and Holgate reviewed

Heworth Without

The Heworth Without ward is home to 3,933 residents. Average incomes are lower than the City average. 89% of residents own their home.  7% rent privately and 3% are social tenants. There are no Council homes in the area. 1.3% are out of work. Crime levels are significantly below average.  94.12% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 18.75% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2).  Source

Elections

This area had been held by the LibDems for most of the last 20 years and longer. The only interruption came in 2007 when, following a change of LibDem candidate, the late Bill Bennett won the seat for the Conservatives.

His triumph didn’t last long as he sadly passed away a few months later. The resultant by election saw Nigel Ayre elected with a substantial majority.

The ward has been solidly LibDem ever since.

Neither the Tories nor the Greens have found a local candidate while Labour have not revealed where their candidate lives.

Nigel Ayre is popular in the ward and has worked hard to free it from the threat of development. He may be less well regarded in some other parts of the City where he has fronted the Councils, sometimes divisive, leisure polices. He was also one of those, together with Keith Aspden, who was unjustly accused of breaking standards rules.

The LibDems will expect to retain this seat.

Prediction

1 LibDem seat

Holgate

The Holgate ward is home to 12,786 residents. Average incomes are lower than the City average. 23% of residents own their home.  23% rent privately and 12% are social tenants. There are 476 Council homes in the area. 1.5% are out of work. Crime levels are slightly above average.  90.32% of residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (York average 88.6%). 30.0% believe that they can influence decisions in their local area (City average 26.2).  Source

Elections

This ward was won by the LibDems in 2003. It has been Labour since 2007

.. & that is the problem for the LibDems both here and in nearby wards with a high proportion of social housing. For many years in York the LibDems were the natural alternative to Labour in the poorer parts of the City. The 2003 success was based on attracting large numbers of votes from Council tenants and those living in smaller terraced properties in the Leeman Road area.  The by election campaign, which should have been easy fodder for the LibDem machine, seemed to falter in those areas. Some blame an influx of “Middle England” strategists into the local party for the failure.

The trend figure disguises a freak poor performance  for the LibDems in 2015 probably as a result of the General Election taking place on the same day.  A by election  in February 2018, which saw the LibDems fielding a credible local candidate, saw the parties share of the vote return to 32.3% – but still well behind Labour.

If the party has now got its act together, it should win seats here. It has arguably got the best candidates (local, experienced, committed to the area).

If the lessons have been learnt, then, starting from a strong second place, the LibDems should overhaul Labour. Labour have sacked two of their existing Councillors. They join Sonya Crisp who quit earlier and caused the by election.

In their places are two new youthful candidates only one of whom lives in the ward (The other is one of those who declines to reveal her address).

She is less frank than one of the Tory candidates who admits to living in Beverley. That is an 80 mile round trip and probably some kind of record! Her fellow Tory candidates decline to say where they live.

Prediction

2 Labour seats, 1 LibDem seat

£35,000 cost of making West Bank Lodge safe

As we reported in February, West Bank Park Lodge is to be made safe.

The building was subject to an arson attack in 2016.

It has now been revealed that the demolition contract will cost £35,503, The contract was awarded to MGL demolition.

The police have still to make any arrests in connection with the arson incident

“Festival of York Central” exhibition – Dates announced

The York Central Partnership is launching the ‘Festival of York Central’ and calling on the people of York to join the conversation around the site and help shape this part of the city for future generations.

An exhibition exploring the emerging masterplan for the development is at the centre of the festival, and will be open to the public from the 21 March to 27 April 2018, in The Gallery at the National Railway Museum.

Accompanying the exhibition, My Future York are organising a wide programme of events, under the My York Central project. This will include walking tours, workshops and speaking events, to further capture the needs and ideas of York residents and explore the challenges that York Central faces. The full programme of events and timings will be available at www.myyorkcentral.org.
(more…)

So, who will win the Holgate by election tomorrow?

Blocked gullies have been reported in the Holgate area

It would probably be true to say that the Council by election taking place in the Holgate ward tomorrow – following the resignation of local Labour Councillor Sonja Crisp – has failed to excite much interest in the City. The election result will make no practical difference to the balance of power on the York Council and “all out” elections are little more than a year away.

So local issues have understandably preoccupied local campaigners.

Labour will be delighted to see the chaos that has descended on the Tory party leadership at both local and national level. The publicity has diverted attention away from the fact that 3 of the 15 Labour Councillors elected in 2015 have subsequently resigned. 30% is an unprecedented rate of attrition.

The Conservatives disappointed many observers by quietly dropping their colourful, and Portuguese born, Holgate spokesman preferring a youthful former University student instead. He is the only candidate who doesn’t claim to be local to Holgate.

Good work by the LibDem team saw flooding reduced at the the Holly Bank Grove access to Hob Moor

Labour’s Kallum Taylor struggles with an unfortunate legacy. Labour’s current team of 3 Councillors have hardly set the ward on fire with their actions. Chunks of money delegated to be spent in the area remain in the Council’s coffers while, in the absence of regular inspections of public service standards, parts of the ward now look distinctly run down. Taylor blundered by claiming “I use the same services, shops and streets as everyone else in Holgate, and am affected by the same local problems”. He’s only been living in the ward for a few weeks since moving into the area from Fulford Road. That may mean that the cashiers at Iceland and Aldi will be seekingr counselling, but it did look like an opportunistic comment.

Had he said that he had moved into the ward so that he could monitor the standard of public services in the area each day, then he would have had more credibility.

Still, he is apparently the goalkeeper for Poppleton football club – skills that may come in handy when trying to avoid own goals from the John – “run railways via a worker cooperative” – McDonnell section of his party.

In most elections, since Local Government reorganisation, the battle for Holgate has been between Labour and the LibDems. This pattern was interrupted in 2015 when local and parliamentary elections took place on the same day. National issues were uppermost in people’s minds. This also led to a much higher turnout at 66%.

Given the time of year, a turnout of little more than half that percentage can be expected to vote tomorrow.

Labour have been criticised for not opposing the closure of Acomb Police Station

Perennial Green Party Candidate Andreas Heinemeyer, makes up the quartet of hopefuls. His previous election attempts have so far failed to induce exhaustion in those employed to count the votes

The LibDem candidate is the only woman in the field. With emancipation reaching its centenary this month, it would be fitting if Emma Keef saw off the boy’s club.

She is likely to win or lose based on the effectiveness of her campaign in the Lindsey Avenue and Leeman Road areas. The previous LibDem win in 2003 owed a lot to the votes of Council tenants and those living in the terraced areas

Emma Keef will at least expect to raise the LibDem vote back to its usual level of about 30%.  With Labour hoping for 40%, the difference may be down to tactical voting and differential turnouts.

The result should be known at about 11:00pm

More about candidates in Holgate by election

There is an increasing tendency for election candidates to announce themselves on social media, with their political party left to play “catch up” in the communications game. Last week a Labour activist announced that he would be the next Councillor for Holgate. Turned out that he had applied to be the candidate. Later he was turned down.

So, what do we know about the runners and riders?

Liberal Democrat

Candidate is local resident Emma Keef who lives in Clive Grove. Has been involved with local groups like the Friends of Hob Moor and the Friends of St Paul’s Primary School. Is a Trustee for York’s Special Care Baby Unit.  Works for a local Charity. Married with two children. Formerly a helper at the local children’s centre. Has lived in the area for over 10 years. The LibDem campaign got off to a slow start, but they are the only party to have beaten Labour in this seat since local government reorganisation, so they have a chance.

Labour

Had a false start when one “George Norman”, a Momentum activist, declared last week that he would be the next Councillor for Holgate. Apparently, he hadn’t told anyone else and was promptly unseated by a Kallum Taylor. Taylor is a former Student Leader at York Uni and very much in the James Alexander mould. He has a lot to do to retain the seat following disclosures about lack of activity by the present Labour Councillors (who failed to post a single update on their web page between April 2015 and January 2018). He works for JRHT in housing. Main claim to fame seems to be his connection with Poppleton FC.  Kallum Taylor claims to live in the ward, but it is unclear where. Possibly another instance of Maskell syndrome – buy/rent a local property a few days before you seek election? Taylor finally made it onto the elector register at 21 Bromley Street when it was updated in February 2018

Tory

The Conservative candidate is expected to be Joao Rei Villar a Portuguese national who has lived in York since 2011. He moved into the Holgate ward in the summer of 2016 after which he tweeted that he was the Holgate Tory spokesman. EU nationals are currently eligible to vote, and stand for election, in Council elections in the UK. The York Council already has one EU national amongst its membership (a Green Party Councillor in the Micklegate ward). Joao Rei Villar seems to be a colourful character having formerly been a CDU Councillor in Lisbon. He is also a qualified anti-aircraft gunner which could come in handy if Teresa May starts “claiming back our borders”. Which side of the border Joao will be on come 2019 remains to be seen. By profession he is a script writer and had a minor part in last years Mystery Plays.

The by election takes place on Thursday 15th February.  Nominations must be submitted by Friday.

Residents who are not currently registered to vote are encouraged to go visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. All applications must be made by Tuesday 30 January 2018.

Residents who wish to arrange a postal vote can find further information at www.york.gov.uk or by contacting Electoral Services on 01904 551007 or electoral.services@york.gov.uk.

Completed applications for a postal vote must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 31 January 2018. Postal votes will be sent out first class from Thursday 1 February 2018.

Holgate by election – So there’s more to representing people than delivering leaflets?

Yes, making oneself accessible is important.

So how well do the present Holgate Labour councillors present themselves?

Many residents, wanting to contact their local Councillor, will turn to the Councils web pages.

Looking for the three Holgate Councillors, they may become confused. They all give their addresses as the Councils “West Offices”. So, if you want to drop a note through their letterbox, about a local issue, you will be disappointed.

Labour claim their new candidate – student leader Kallum Taylor – “lives in the Holgate Ward”. They pointedly fail to say where, or for how long he has been there. No doubt time will reveal all.

There has been no publicity about any Councillors surgeries or advice centres in Holgate, so we must assume that they are things of the past.

But perhaps representatives are so active, they anticipate issues and report them before they become problems for residents.

Well a good Councillor will indeed “walk the ward” each week and report issues to the Council.

We know how many issues each Councillor reported, in each of the first two years of the current York Council, following a response to a “Freedom of Information” request.

All the present Holgate Councillors appear to be less active than their counterparts elsewhere.

It seems that the number of issues raised by Councillors generally is reducing compared to 10 years ago when Councillors were, on average, highlighting over 200 issues per Councillor per year. This may be because standards are higher and therefore issues fewer? We doubt that.

So, what about attendance at Council Committees?

The Council publishes its own stats on meeting attendance records

Better news here, for one of the existing Holgate Councillors. Mary Cannon has a 100% attendance record at meetings. Unfortunately, she is let down by the other two Councillors who are well below the York Councillor average

So, its looks like the present Councillor team in Holgate are not as effective as they should be.

We’ll look later this week at how the by election candidates shape up. Hopefully there will be at least one local resident among them with an established  track record in working for the Holgate community.

We will see next week.