Dumping and litter blights nature area

“Investment in waste and environment services to include additional staffing on waste rounds, improved city centre cleaning and effective weed control”. That’s what the York Council is promising in their newly published budget for next year.

In total – over two years – an additional £1 million will be found for a new system of “neighbourhood working”.

This, says the Council, will “improve the waste collection service to residents by increasing the number of green waste collections, adding two extra green waste collections each March from 2021 onwards.

The pilot of 3 free replacement boxes per property will continue and be made permanent.

The Council will develop neighbourhood working models across public realm and waste to better respond to the communities needs building on the success of local management, ownership and responsibility elsewhere in the council.

The Council will work with York Business Improvement District to review how city centre cleansing can be improved. The resilience of the services will be improved by removing the reliance on fixed term staff.

In addition they will invest in the weed control service to increase the areas treated and, in response to the world wide ongoing challenge about the use of glyphosate,  will trial alternative methods for dealing with weeds such as foams etc”.

The proposal is short on detail but improvements in cleaning services can’t come soon enough for some sub-urban areas.

Several amenity areas are now overwhelmed by fly tipping and litter.

The Westfield/Grange Lane park and adjacent nature area is a case in point and is particularly bad at present.

Westfield Park which is located between Grange Lane and Westfield Place

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Issues reported today in west York

The end of the holidays brings with it a need to deal with some issues. Today we have reported issues with

  • dog fouling,
  • dumping next to the recycling banks on Acomb Wood Drive,
  • leaf fall in the Greenwood Grove area
  • litter in the Chesney Field area &
  • more litter on the Tithe Close snicket

Hopefully they will be addressed quickly now.

Issues reported for Council attention in west York

Gale Lane carriageway breaking up. The section is only a few metres away from the area that was resurfaced a few months ago. The Council really should have resurfaced as far as the junction
Widespread damage to verges and speed humps in the Kingsway area blamed on heavy building plant. The Newbury Avenue bungalows should be finished at the end of the year so hopefully some repairs will then take place.
Dumped fridge in hedgerow at Chesney Field
More dumping in back Foxwood Lane
& again in the little Green Lane garage area
Graffiti in Howe Street area. This will prove to be a test of the Councils new graffiti removal processes which were implemented a few weeks ago.
Still a lot of leaf fall in some streets. This is Windsor Garth. Streets now need mechanical sweeping before mulch becomes embedded.
Litter in hedgerows near Doherty Walk. The Councils street cleansing systems still aren’t working with problems on several estates and at some shopping centres.
More litter!

Crowds add to litter problems in York

Its not just the transport systems that have been under pressure in York this weekend.

People have been pointing to issues with street cleansing in the City centre. Can’t be easy for Council staff and the BID team to keep on top of the problems with such high volumes of pedestrians around (not to mention the security zones).

Even in suburban areas we’ve been finding examples of full bins and badly littered streets. All have been reported for Council attention.

Full bin at Askham Lane bus stop
Same issue at the Cornlands Road shops
Shops forecourt badly littered

Problem with leaves on Askham Grove steps reported

We’ve reported several instances where fallen leaves could resent a safety issue.

Askham Grove steps
Leaves on paths at junction of Gale Lane and Cornlands Road
Resurfacing contractors have almost reached the end of their Gale Lane job
Both sets of goal posts are back on the Westfield Park. Sadly they still haven’t been painted yet.

Wear and tear takes its toll of street furniture and access gates. Maintenance work is needed at several locations.

The access gate to the Bachelor Hill amenity area from Askham Lane – aimed at preventing access by motorcyclists – has been in need of attentions for some time
Similar picture at the Tennent Road access. We’ve reported litter in the nearby hedge
Litter also a problem on the Cornlands park
….and another gate – to the playground – where the spring closer doesn’t work. This was installed to stop dogs accessing and fouling the play area.
Tedder Road/Cornlands Road snicket. One of several which would benefit from a “deep clean” this winter

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)