Anyone expecting the York Council’s Executive to take decisive action, to address declining public service standards at their meeting yesterday, will have been disappointed.
Despite a plea from Independent Councillor Mark Warters that a team be set up to deal with outstanding complaints, the Councils leadership remained tight lipped.
Cllr Warters was echoing a similar call from a growing number of Liberal Democrat supporters in the City
Many residents may conclude that there is something seriously wrong at West Offices.
Not only is there no timetable for addressing outstanding issues, but communications with residents are poor while many local Councillors (not all) fail to roll their sleeves up and tackle issues directly in their wards.
The York Council is no longer a “can do” organisation. It’s become a “maybe things will get better next year” type authority.
That won’t do. Its the kind of complacent attitude that has prompted a rise in more extreme political ideologies elsewhere in the country and abroad. It needs to be reversed, and quickly.
Not everything is bad, of course. Some individual Council officials are making limited progress in improving our streets as we show here.
Residents, businesses and community groups are being asked to comment on how City of York Council can help them achieve the best quality of life in the city.
Through the council plan consultation, City of York Council is wanting to hear from residents, businesses and community groups and ask them to comment on eight suggested outcomes for the council over the next four years. They are:
Good health and wellbeing
Well paid jobs and an inclusive economy
Getting around sustainably
A better start for children and young people
A greener and cleaner city
Creating homes and world-class infrastructure
Safe communities and culture for all
An open and effective council.
As well as comment on these themes and what they mean to them, residents, businesses and community groups will also be asked what they think the council could do to achieve the outcomes and what they could do in support.
Residents without online access will also have the chance to contribute their views at venues around the city or add their thoughts to pop-up boards in public spaces or other activities taking place across the city.
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Councilsaid: “Residents, businesses and community groups make York such a fantastic place to live and work. We want to hear from them what we can do to deliver against the suggested outcomes and how they may be able to support this journey to being a cleaner, healthier city with an inclusive economy.”
“Once complete, this plan will set our ambitious vision for the future of the city and set clear expectations on how we propose to deliver improvements for residents, against which we will monitor delivery and measure performance.
“We look forward to hearing suggestions from people about what our priorities should be.”
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council said: “The council plan is important so we can clearly set out what we hope to achieve over the course of the next four years. These proposals acknowledge the need for us to address the climate emergency declared by full council and listen to residents’ ideas about what the council should do to address this. We would like to hear what actions individuals, businesses and organisations might take to support this work.
“As well as climate change, the proposed outcomes also consider a range of social, economic and environmental factors we are keen to prioritise and ensures the city supports a good quality of life for residents.
“We look forward to hearing from residents, businesses and local community groups. We think it is really important they have a chance to discuss and play a part in the work we will be doing over the next four years and want to hear their views and suggestions.”
Council leadership set to prioritise road repairs, play
facilities, housing, energy efficiency and Social Care.
The new Council leadership has announced changes to the budget
that it inherited. As expected, extra investment in improvements to street
level public services are planned.
There will be extra investment in
Additional Litter bins
Street environment (cleaning and community
Electric vehicle charging point maintenance.
The biggest investment will be £1 million spent on road repairs
and a further £1 million on cycling/walking improvements
There will be a £250,000 boost for children’s play facilities.
The Council will invest £1 million in speeding up housing modernisation
and a further £1 million on energy efficiency improvements
£22,000 is being taken for the reserves to improve children’s and adult social care standards.
Several of the proposals are less than transparent. We are told, for example, that the Council will “Re-purpose funding from the Leeds City Region Business Rates Pilot to strengthen our approach to inclusive growth, including child poverty, greening the high street and promote lifelong learning”
Also, the Council will fund “connections with communities most impacted by EU exit to better understand their needs, and to take forward the community hubs work initiated”
Four schemes are intended to be self-funding. They relate to
foster care, Special Education Needs and Disability pupils, Public Health and mental
The proposals will be welcomed by many in the City. It will, however, take more than £1 million to get the City’s roads back into good order.
£4.25 million of the plan is capital investment, meaning higher debt charges in the future (and less to spend in the revenue budget).
The plans are likely to be criticised for failing to clearly identify the objectives of some of the changes with no detail given of how the success of the projects will be measured.
No KPIs are listed and there is no clear vision of how the City will look in 4 years’ time.
Residents may feel that prompt attention to reducing the costs of some inherited major projects is necessary, especially if demands on taxpayers in future years are to remain under control.
It really shouldn’t cost £35,000 to “ launch a public
Citizen’s Assembly on how the Council can best work in an open way”
The Council must become a “can do” rather than a “can talk” organisation.
Still it’s a start, and a better one than was managed by the
last two Council administrations.
The proposal will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 17th July
It looks like there is a backlog developing on street lighting repairs in York. Cllr Sheena Jackson has been pressing for a lamp at the end of Foresters Walk to be repaired but has now been told that it could be as long as a fortnight before it is working again. Officials blame an increased number of fault reports for the backlog, although an extra member of staff has been taken on.
Elsewhere recycling collections have been erratic with several instances reported where cardboard has not been collected.
The Councils web site instructions on how much cardboard can be collected at the kerb are byzantine and really could do with simplification before the peak Christmas period arrives
We were disappointed to find that a “keep left” bollard on Gale Lane – reported 5 weeks ago – still hasn’t been repaired
We’ve asked for the repair to be expedited The darker nights, and potentially foggy weather, mean that illuminated bollards are often a key safety aid for drivers
There have also been problems in getting overgrown hedges cut back for some public footpaths.
We’ve asked for some self seeded bushes on the Thoresby Road garage area to be removed.
We reported the full litter bin on Askham Lane near the bus stop and asked it to be emptied.
The York Council seems to be slipping into an alternative world as they launch “democracy week” in the City. They suggest various ways of influencing their policies and priorities including attending “budget consultation meetings”.
They seem to have developed a blind spot about the quality of some of the public services in the city.
Roads, footpaths and verges in many areas are now in appalling condition and this before we suffer the ravages of icy winter weather.
Reality check needed
One resident has written to us to complain about his difficulty in getting potholes repaired in a local road “the complaints procedure is a farce”
Potholes on poorly maintained carriageway in Welborne Close
The York Council is seeking volunteers who will check the quality of local public services in their local estate or neighbourhood.
Although in much of the Westfield area, Residents Associations and local Councillors do routinely inspect the quality of public services we think that the more people who are involved the better.
So we hope that some will volunteer and feedback their experiences of getting problems rectified.
The speed of reaction by the Council to problems with dumping and litter has improved recently although there are still problems with some services such as the maintenance of communal garage areas and trimming hedges and trees.
Problems with road and footpath surfaces are a continuing issue as is dog fouling in some areas.
· By post to FREEPOST RTEG-TYYU-KLTZ, Budget consultation, City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA
· By hand at West Offices or libraries/Explore Centres”.
On line consultation questionaire https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YorkBudget
The Council of course omits to mention many options that many residents might like to take.
You noticeably won’t be able to vote for a pay freeze for Councillors or to reduce their support costs,
There’s no option to stop the “Our City” newspaper.
Quangos like “Make it York” are off the options list.
Not can you vote to save money through the lower debt (interest) charges which would come if the subsidy was reduced for big investment schemes like the:
New swimming pool at Monks Cross
Access bridge to the York Central development or
Development of the Guildhall site.
There isn’t even a “write in” option for those feeling inventive!
You can say whether you prefer a tax rise to service cuts but you aren’t offered a choice on how much any increase might be!
NB It is likely that the cap in increases will be around 3.9% most of which will be ring-fenced for elderly care.
The Council justifies its stance by saying, “This year’s budget proposals will seek to ensure the council’s priorities continue to be delivered, whilst also ensuring the council’s financial position is managed effectively. (more…)