Timetable to address York public service woes needed

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.

The drainage channel on Foxwood Lane has been cleared
The Field Lane cycle track has been cleared of obstructions
But for every success there is a failure. The footpath on Hull Road remains obstructed despite pedestrians being forced onto the busy highway
and weeds still haven’t been treated even on streets where Councillors actually live!
New issues are emerging each day. This footpath on Field Lane, near the Hull Road junction, is now obstructed.
Not the Councils responsibility, but there has been a build up of litter on the Teal Drive “pocket park”. Reopened 6 weeks ago, it is being well used but it does need routine cleansing (or a litter bin). Reported to JRHT.

Help us shape our council plan

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.

Highways England have confirmed that the Council is responsible for removing weed growth on former trunk roads like the A59. Hopefully “cleaner” will come before “greener” in the York Councils list of priorities when addressing highway obstructions

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.  

The consultation is available to complete now at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YorkCouncilPlanConsultation2019 and closes on Sunday 15 September. 

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 Council said: “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.”

Big investment in York Public Services

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

More to be spent on road repairs
  • Removing graffiti
  • Additional Litter bins
  • Tree management
  • Crime reduction
  • Waste collection
  • Street environment (cleaning and community projects)
  • Buses
  • 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

We think that there is unlikely to be rioting in the streets as a result of the Councils decision to discontinue the “digital immersive model” marketing project. There may be public unrest if the Council doesn’t publish its reports in plain English in future.

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 health.

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

A full list of budget proposals can be read by clicking here

Full list of budget changes
Budget changes list continued

Give them a break!

Many public service workers will be on duty over the festive period.  Inevitably the services of the Police, Council workers and health professionals will be required by some members of society.

However we can all help to reduce the pressures on public services with a little forethought and consideration

Vandalised car seats in Cornlands Road garage area.

Litter on Cornlands park

Trolley dumped in little Green Lane parking area

Abandoned bike chained to Indoor bowling club railings

Vandalised house sale sign

Full litter bin

Litter near Foxwood shops. (Residents undertook a litter pick near the bus shelter yesterday)

Delays on street lighting and other York Council repairs

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.

Residents angry over state of roads as Council says “collect a petition”

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

 

 

 

Westfield residents survey results updated to include Cornlands Rd/Gale Lane area

The results, from the Westfield Councillors annual survey of public opinion, have been updated to include the Cornlands Road area.

The summary report can be downloaded by clicking here

Residents said they were satisfied with most public services in the area. The best performing was the bus service, mirroring the similar result obtained in the nearby Chapelfields estate.

Lack of car parking on local roads was the key grievance.

Residents wanted to see the return of a regular skip service.

There were many complaints about overgrown Council owned  trees and bushes which are obstructing paths and gardens.

Several policing issues were highlighted with anti social behaviour apparently on the increase.

The top priority for regeneration of the Front Street area was the provision of level forecourts across the whole shopping area.

The future of the Front Street area is due to be discussed at a public meeting taking place tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Gateway Centre starting at 6:30pm. 

York Council launches appeal for “estate champions”

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.

estate-champion

 

Have your say on York Council budget

 The Council has issued a media release saying, 

“City of York Council’s Executive is facing some tough decisions in 2016-17. Below outlines why these difficult choices need to be made and why residents’ views are so important.

To help shape the 2016-17 Budget proposals, the council is inviting residents to have their say through a consultation by Wednesday 20 January:

·         Online at www.york.gov.uk/consultations/

·         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”.

Council consultation

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.
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Litter, footpaths, dog fouling, dumping & weeds top residents concerns

Thanks to those living in the Front Street and Hob Moor areas who have been returning the LibDem Focus “grumble” sheets.

So far the most complaints have been about:

  1. Litter
  2. Uneven footpaths
  3. Dog fouling
  4. Dumping
  5. Weeds/bushes obstructing paths

So pretty much basic public service standard issues.

This weekend we’ve moving on to look at services in the Cornlands Road and Askham Lane areas.

We’ve already been out and about this week checking on public service standards in the west of the City. Around 255 issues have been reported via “Fix My Street” including

Dogs have badly fouled the tithe Close snicket

Dogs have badly fouled the Tithe Close snicket

Weeds are still a problem on some footpaths

Weeds are still a problem on some footpaths

Grange Lane park play equipment still needs strimming

Grange Lane park play equipment still needs strimming

Swings damaged on Grange Lane aprk

Swings damaged on Grange Lane park

Full litter bin on Askham Lane reported by Cllr Sheena Jackson

Full litter bin on Askham Lane reported by Cllr Sheena Jackson