60% of York residents say road maintenance is “poor”

With the York Council’s ruling Executive due to discuss it’s first quarter performance later today, a new survey has revealed that many residents are unhappy with public service standards in the City.

West York survey results July/Aug 2016

West York survey results July/Aug 2016

Road repairs (60% rated “poor”) and footpath  repairs (57%)  top the list of woes, but there is also criticism of litter bin provision and car parking arrangements in some sub-urban estates.

Best rated service was recycling (92% rated good or satisfactory), with refuse collection also rated positively (89%).

The Council’s investment in new street lighting seems to be impressing people  with 87% now rating it as good or satisfactory.

However there is little evidence that the Council’s proclaimed priority – investing in street level service quality – is having a positive effect.

Dissatisfaction with roads and footpaths is at an all time high.

Councillors today will be given a different set of figures to consider. Their “key performance indicators” are not included on the Executive agenda but can be accessed via the”open data”  web site.

This is in itself a step forward from previous years when data was often hidden from residents.

Transport KPIs August 2016 click to access

Transport KPIs August 2016 click to access

However a closer look at the stats reveals that, not only are most quarter one figures unavailable, but also many of the out-turn figures for 2015/16 haven’t been updated.

No improvement targets are identified.

Quite what “performance”  – other than a bland anecdotal commentary – Councillors will therefore be considering later today is a mystery.

The York Council must now put more emphasis on customer satisfaction. Publishing the results of quarterly residents “talkabout” panel views would be a start.

The key message though, as the Council begins to construct its budget priorities for next year, is that  residents want to see more invested in repairing our roads and footpaths. 

 

11% increase in crime in York

“Hate crime” figures up from 108 in 2014/15 to 141 in 2015/16

Performance figures released by the Council confirm that there has been a significant increase in crime levels in the City.

Crime levels up. "Hate" crime increasing

Crime levels up. “Hate” crime increasing

 During 2015/16, there were a reported 12,018 crimes for the York area, a total of 1,211 more than those reported during 2014/15.

Increases have been seen in violent crime, criminal damage and the burglary of non-dwelling properties.

Detailed crime figures reveal that the number of complaints about “hate” crimes (such as racially motivated abuse) were on the increase even before the recent referendum result served to highlight the issue even more.

Residents will have to search if they want to find KPI data for public services.

The figures are not being reported to the Executive meeting taking place tomorrow.

However, they are available by clicking here.

Unfortunately many of the tables do not include comprehensive target information and most of the customer satisfaction measures haven’t been updated since 2013.

York Council releases latest – more comprehensive – performance stats

Unemployment low, forecast 12% increase in crime levels, poor housing management performance,

The latest performance figures from the York Council provide a lot more information about public service standards in the City. It is a welcome improvement from the “dark ages” between 2011 and 2015 when little was revealed and Freedom of Information requests flourished

Environment KPIs click to access

Environment KPIs click to access

The Council is reporting a big over-spend on the costs of looking after children from broken homes. Car parking income is already £282,000 below budgeted levels, and the Council has, of course, received no income from ANPR enforcement on Coppergate.

One worrying trend is on crime where “significant increases are forecast in the violent crime, criminal damage and burglary of non-dwellings”. With elections for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner coming up in May, candidates can expect to be questioned closely on their plans to reverse crime trends in the City.

As you would expect, performance in other areas varies. No one expects perfection – just a solid response to any evidence of declining standards.

The only department that still hasn’t adjusted to the new, more open, culture appears to be the Housing department. The Housing Revenue Account looks like it will underspend by £480,000 this year – yet many estate regeneration projects remain on the shelf.

Housing KPIs click

Housing KPIs click

Housing KPIs lack information about contact volumes, complaint levels. repair numbers and customer satisfaction levels.  There is no exception reporting. No “longest outstanding issue” figures are provided.

Housing have also produced a new “business plan” which singularly fails to identify any administrative savings despite a heavy investment in technology. The lamentable condition of many estates – particularly  communal spaces and in garage areas  – together with growing issues like the lack of off street car parking, is largely ignored.

The Council’s Executive when it meets next week should send the housing documents back for a rethink.

Detailed KPIs can be found behind these links:

Still no performance stats on basic York Council services

The latest performance report to the Councils Executive taking place on  26th November  , pointedly fails to provide any data on core public service standards.

The nearest insight a taxpayer could expect to get to day to day service standards is a statement about the number of bins which the Council failed to empty first time round during the last quarter (535)!

Of customer satisfaction levels or speed of response on roads, footpaths, street lighting repairs, weeds, litter etc. there is silence.

Does the York Council even know how good its public services are?

A response to a recent Freedom of information inquiry suggests that in many cases they don’t.

Key public servicesWe asked for performance information on 20 key Council service areas (see left).  They are the kind of services that every resident is likely to use – or see – each year.

Performance information had been gathered routinely, and reported publicly, up to 2011. However, over recent years, the York Council has seemed to be increasingly reluctant to provide  information about basic service standards.

The Council said that it didn’t measure how many issues it received – or how it responded – for five public service areas. They were:

  • Dog fouling
  • Fly posting
  • Play equipment defects
  • Public open space/park maintenance issues &
  • Council estate communal and garage area defects.

    Garage area maintenance standards not recrded

    Garage area maintenance standards not recorded

That shocked us – not least because some involve safety issues.

We asked for information on the:

A Number of issues reported    

B  Average time taken to resolve issue  

C  Target completion time           

D  % of issues resolved within the target time    

E  Longest outstanding issue at the month end 

F  % quality checks which were considered to be satisfactory

The Council was able to provide volume information, on the number of issues that had been reported, for most of the activity areas.

Areas where the number of problem reports were increasing included

  • Trees, bushes and weeds overgrowing paths
  • Graffiti &
  • Street lighting faults

The number of reports in other activity areas was fairly stable over an 18 month period.

Looking at how quickly issues were resolved,  the only target times regularly achieved were for  clearing full litter bins “within 3 working days” (a fairly generous target) and removing “obscene” graffiti  within 1 working day.

If you telephoned the Council offices in August you had a 75% chance of your call being answered in 20 seconds.

 A visitor would have waited, on average, 8 minutes to be seen. 

However residents emailing the Council and expecting a response within one working day, would be disappointed. The Council has stopped recording the length of time taken to deal with electronic communications.

So what’s the longest wait that I can expect?

Well the Council doesn’t measure the longest outstanding issue. So no one knows.

But there must be some quality checks?
Some issues like weed growth never seem to eb resolved

Some issues like weed growth never seem to be resolved

Well actually no.  The Council says that it doesn’t record the results of quality checks undertaken by inspectors nor does it undertake any customer satisfaction surveys with complainants.

So work undertaken isn’t routinely checked and recorded.

Maybe the issue hasn’t even been resolved? Just ticked off on the work management computer?

Who’s to blame?

Poor management practices, Councillors, Directors, computer systems?  The Chairs of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees – who should guard the public interest – have generally failed to table performance information.  

So perhaps everyone shares the responsibility?

Will they put things right?

Maybe. The, still relatively new, Council deserves some time to put things right. But they need some quick wins to restore public confidence.

They could start by putting these, and other, basic KPIs on their “open data” web site and updating them each month.

The sooner that a new Chief Executive is appointed by the Council – and its management vacancies filled – the sooner we can expect to see an improvement in service  standards.

The full set of results, covering the last 18 months, can be downloaded by clicking here or here (Sendspace Excel spreadsheet) 

Our thanks to the FOI team at the Council who clearly tried very hard  to provide the information that we had requested.

KPI extract