Time to get on top of weed growth on our roads and footpaths

With a new Council elected and most candidates committed to ensuring that street level public services are improved it is a good time to report any issues in your street.

We came across this weed infested traffic island build out on Gale Lane today.

Gale Lane 1400 hours 14th May 2015

Gale Lane 1400 hours 14th May 2015

We recommend residents to use the “My Council” app which can be found  by clicking here http://www.mycouncilservices.com/


More and more residents contacting the York Council as Smarter York “App” fails

Lunched amidst a blaze of publicity 18 months ago an “App”, that was supposed to transform the way that residents communicate with the Council, has flopped.

Council Leaders in London looking for an "App" 2 years ago.

Council Leaders in London looking for an “App” 2 years ago.

The Smarter York mobile phone “App” allowed residents to report an incident – including a photo – straight into the Councils contact handing system. The “App” cost £8000 to develop.

It ran into problems with the Data Protection Act in October of last year

Now figures released by the Council have revealed that only 200 reports were made using the “App” between April and September 2013.

That is only 0.07% of the total number of contacts from York residents.

Last year 321 residents used the system during the equivalent period.

Many of the reports are understood to have been made by Council staff during the course of their normal duties.

During the same 6 month period, other residents used the following channels to contact the Council.

  • Telephone 183,385 (2012 – 140,851)
  • Personal visit 60,841 (36,528)
  • Email: 32,106 (22,034)
  • “Do it on line” (council web site) – 7848 (7778)

The figures show a 37% increase in the number of customers contacting the York Council this year.

This will be deeply worrying for the Council, Leadership who anticipated that changing customer preferences would see a big shift to using electronic means to contact the Council.

Electronic transactions cost a fraction of the expense incurred in dealing with personal callers.

The whole business case for the new Council HQ was based on assumption that heavy investment in state of the art IT facilities would reduce day to day running costs for the Council.

This appears, so far, not to be the case.

The period covered was a time when residents were besieging the Council with complaints about revised bin emptying arrangements and new traffic restrictions in the City centre.

Meanwhile the Smarter York App needs to be upgraded to cover more public service areas.

In that respect at least, it has fallen far behind proprietary web based reporting tools such as “My Council”  and “Fix my Street”.

York Council tackles issue reporting problems

My Council

The York Council has moved to address problems that residents were having reporting issues using the “My Council” mobile phone “app”.

The “app” allows users to report any issues that they find on the streets of the City. Copies of the report, a photo and locations map are then emailed to the complainant.

It has a longer list of issues that can be reported than the Council proprietary system (Love Clean Streets) The Council seems to have abandoned the “Love Where You Live York” web site  although it is still advertised on their own site

It transpires that many of the “My Council” reports were going astray as a result of incompatible interface systems.

Easy to report footpath damage using "my Council"

Easy to report footpath damage using “my Council”

Now the Council says that the problem has been fixed.

We’d like to see systems like “My Council” fully integrated into the Councils working practices and for any responses to residents to include a confirmation that a problem has been addressed successfully.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Cuthbertson has tabled a question on the issue for Thursdays Council meeting
“How many complaints, forwarded to the York Council Contact centre over the last 6 months via web based reporting tools (such as “My Council”, “report that hole”, “report that pothole” etc), have been successfully recorded and actioned and how many reports have been discarded because of data translation problems?”

York Council loses dozens of complaints

My Council

At least 50 reports about failing public service standards in York have not been actioned by the Council over the last couple of months.

The Council has claimed that reports submitted via the popular “My Council” Mobile app were not processed because they were indecipherable when uploaded to the Council.

Rather than get to the bottom of the problem, the reports were ignored.

Now an administrator for the “My Council” web provider (abavus.co.uk) has stepped in and offered to sort out the difficulties.

More and more people are using web sites like “My Council”, Fix my Street  , and Fill that hole”  to report issues.

This is to the advantage of Councils because the costs of processing issues electronically are much less than hard copy mail, personal callers or telephone communications.

However this case is likely to damage the credibility of the system in some residents eyes.

The Councils own mobile app (Smarter York) allows only a very small number of issues to be reported and user numbers have been disappointing.

The “Report it” section of the Council web site is cumbersome and has similar limitations.

The Council has been asked to sort out its data interface problems, ensure that reports blocked over the last couple of months are now entered onto its systems and to make efforts to contact those residents who may be unaware that issues that they have reported have not been actioned.

The industry generally needs to do more work on interface issues.

Councils in other parts of the country may be affected by incompatibility issues