A response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Council intends to spend 20% less on repairing roads and footpaths in the City during 2021/22 compared to the current year.
The decision will come as a disappointment to many drivers and pedestrians and will be a particular blow for cyclists, many of whom have criticised the rapidly declining quality of local highway surfaces.
Highway maintenance is one of the expenditure areas in the Council where essentially you get what you pay for. So less money inevitably means that fewer paths and carriageways will be resurfaced.
The Council will announce shortly what proportion of the budget it will spend on reactive pothole filling rather than, longer lasting, patching and resurfacing schemes.
Sources at the Council have criticised inconsistent central government funding allocations – such as the annual so called “pot hole” fund – which make long term investment planning difficult. A late announcement of funding for the resurfacing of Tadcaster Road came only weeks after the work had been completed using local taxpayers money (and is now being done again).
However, there will also be concern that some money has been taken from the maintenance budget to fund other projects. Several new schemes, such as rural cycle routes, are sucking funds from the budgets needed to repair existing cycle paths..
The Council has never recovered from the major reductions made to highways funding some 8 years ago.
Successive administrations have failed to find ways of returning investment levels to those seen earlier in the century.
It is estimated that the backlog in maintenance work nationally would require investment of around £11 billion to rectify.
Hopes were raised last year when the York Council established a second pothole filling team in the City. It was hoped that the initiative would at least slow the rapidly deteriorating condition of highways in the City.
Expectations were further raised when the Department of Transport allocated part of its “Pothole challenge fund” to the City.
Sadly, the hoped-for improvements have not materialised.
Many highways are breaking up under the impact of ice and frost. A well-maintained surface is less vulnerable to frost damage but lack of urgency in patching roads in the summer and autumn, means that large stretches are now unsafe for users.
Now hidden within a large report, being considered by the Council later this week, is a proposal which would see less spent on resurfacing.
£600,000 will be taken from pothole filling/resurfacing and instead used to partly fund new schemes like the cycle path link from Wheldrake to Fulford.
Even the most extreme pro cycling campaigners are now realising that maintaining existing paths should be the Councils priority when funds are limited.
The existing cycle and highway networks are in poor condition. Why not fix them first before building more paths?
Sadly, one of the reasons seems to be that highway resurfacing activity is not very glamourous.
There will be no official naming of the pothole that Andy filled in.
On the other hand, a new path may – for a while – attract favourable publicity for its sponsors, at least until it too needs to be resurfaced.
Separately, the same report says that
- the second resurfacing of Tadcaster Road is being delayed until the summer. Gas main works are currently taking place there.
- promised repairs on National Cycle Network 65 will now not be completed until 2021/22.
- £877,000, which was to have been spent this year on Highways Ward Committees schemes, will also be delayed until next year.
With only a few weeks to go until the end of the financial year, the York Council says it will overspend by £3.7 million. Any deficit would be a charge on the Council’s reserves (which currently stand at £7 million)
Most of the deficit is blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic. Details can be found here
Council income has dropped with car parking revenue severely affected.
There are major overspends on children’s social work services including safeguarding vulnerable children with 93 local children currently subject to proceedings.
Adult social care could also overspend by £2.7 million.
There are also major pressures to bail out the indoor sports centres which are managed by GLL.
The main problems with Council housing relate to a repairs backlog and the lengthening time to relet empty properties.
The report contains a highly selective report on public service quality standards. It talks about the – entirely unsurprising – drop in bus usage.
It pointedly fails to mention the appalling decline in the standard of highway surfaces. Despite being reported long before the icy weather – and lockdown – commenced, potholes were only given cursory attention. The result now is that many carriageways are dangerous particularly for users of two wheeled transport.
& maybe part of the solution
The ice and snow has largely disappeared from York today.
In its place are a new – and not so new – crop of potholes.
Please help to make the City safer by reporting any that are a danger to road users.
The next problem we are likely to face is flooding. Three Flood Warnings are already in place for the City.
It will be two or three days before the snow melt in the Dales & Moors catchment areas reaches the City.
Progress can be viewed by clicking the image below.
Surface water drainage seems to be less of a problem at the moment.
The Knavesmire flood works seem to have reduced the standing water problem which was a feature of most winters until recently.
The current icy spell is taking its toll on poorly maintain road and path surfaces. The Council recently agred to undertake some repairs on teb potholed – and well used – section of Foxwood Lane near the sports area. The work has yet to be completed and the potholes continue to pose a hazard particularly for users of two wheeled transport.
The Council promised to repair damaged roads, paths and verges when the building works on Newbury Avenue and Ascot Way were completed. There is little sign of progress.
The arrival of icy weather will put additional pressures on some public services.
The recent snowfall, and subsequent icy road and footpath surfaces, means the the gritters have been out working full time.
There was even a promise from the Council this year that cycle path would be salted but so far this seems to have been sporadic. The Tadcaster Road cycle path, for example, was icy earlier this week.
Some Councillors have reported that they have been out checking local salt bins. They have found some empty, some “solid” & some contaminated with rubbish
We’re not sure that this audit has been completed everywhere though.
With Council resources stretched by the pandemic, this is an activity where residents can help by checking their local salt bin and by removing any litter.
Please let your local Councillor know if a bin needs filling.
Ice and frost will also have a major impact on poorly maintained road and footpath surfaces.
We’ve recently reported potholes on Askham Lane (near the A1237 roundabout) and on Foxwood Lane (near the Thanet Road Sports Area).
There are likely to be many more examples around the City. The sooner the potholes are filled in the less damage will occur (and the safer our roads will be).
We urge residents to use the 24/7 “report it” system (click) to highlight any concerns to the Council
The York Council has an additional £1.8 million to spend repairing roads in the city. It comes for a central government “potholes and challenge” fund.
In addition, an additional £5 million is available to spend on Tadcaster Road although the carriageway itself there has already been resurfaced earlier in the summer.
Apparently, this additional funding will be allocated to improving drainage systems in the area.
Many roads and footpaths in the City are in poor condition so the extra investment will be welcomed by residents.
However, we are approaching the winter period so the Council needs to move quickly to get the work scheduled.
Its good to see that the potholes on the Morrell Court access road have been patched. Earlier in the year the Council claimed that they were not deep enough to justify maintenance work.
No doubt the Kangaroo that jumped out of one last week managed to persuaded them otherwise!
A York Council manager has responded promptly to reports of Epicormic (lower trunk) growth on some trees in the Cornlands Road/Tudor Road area.
Such growth can cause sight line problems for drivers.
The manager says the branches will be trimmed.
We’ve reported a similar issue with a tree at the junction of Cornlands Road and Askham Lane.
We also received a prompt response from Cllr Demise Craghill who has executive responsibility for housing in the City.
She was sympathetic to our complaints about delays in bringing empty Council houses back into use and promised to pursue two long standing issues in the Foxwood Lane area.
Lack of action to level potholes on the Morrell Court access road has now been registered as a formal complaint with the Council. The defects were first reported 6 months ago.
Elsewhere black bags have been left next to the recycling bins at the Acomb Wood Drive shopping area.
We have asked for them to be removed.