It seems that the York Council is pursuing a policy of overkill with many and various public consultations currently underway.
There is already some scepticism among residents about whether it is even worth responding to the Council’s questions. A recent survey found that the majority of respondents didn’t want to see any major change to traffic signal arrangements at the St Leonard Place/Bootham junction. The views were largely ignored when a decision on changes was shelved until the autumn.
Meanwhile, the ill timed (but well intentioned) Groves experimental traffic scheme is still in operation and attracting comments. It was implemented at the height of the pandemic when streets were virtually free of traffic. It is likely to be 6 months before a “new normal” is established and the true impact of the road closures becomes apparent. In the meantime ambulances and other emergency vehicles are forced use an unnecessarily longer route.
The Council is now trying to promote it’s ” My City Centre” survey.
It says the questions are aimed at shaping “a people-focused, business-friendly city centre where people love to spend time, live and work“. You can complete the survey visit My City Centre York.
There is more than a sneaking suspicion that the questions simply replicate the Castle Gateway approach which started in 2018. There a seemingly endless stream of questions were apparently aimed at wearing down non conformist opposition.
The best test of the voracity of any survey is whether it offers the status quo as an option!
The Council has had little option but to start consultation again on its Local Plan.
Planning inspectors have asked for the six-week consultation period before examining the plan at public hearing sessions later this year.
The consultation will ask for comments on additional evidence and modifications submitted since the ‘Phase 1 hearings in 2019’, including the recent submission of the Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum (2021).
Consultation on “York’s Community Woodland” finished yesterday. It ran for over 6 weeks without managing to answer key questions about how much each of the options would cost and where the funding would come from. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YorkWoodland
Another consultation which closed on 11th May relates to changes to recycling arrangements. The proposed 3 weekly collection system attracted one of the highest response rates ever seen. Whether the Council decides to go ahead with the changes, despite the concerns raised, may be the defining moment for the present Council. A decision is due on 24th June.
The latest figures from the government reveal that York increased its recycling rate in the latest period for which statistics are available (2019/20)
The figures are revealed as the Council agonises over plans to introduce 3 weekly recycling collections. The proposal attracted a large number of comments (22,000) when residents views were sought.
The Council perhaps needs to look a little further at waste volumes in the City and how they can be controlled.
As the graph indicates, total waste produced – despite an increasing population – has remained fairly static over the last decade. The volume going to the Allerton Waste Recovery Centre (and, before 2018, landfill) has also been fairly steady.
The role of the commercial and voluntary sectors in mopping up unwanted articles cannot be under-estimated. Clothing banks are widespread and these are supplemented by doorstep collections.
Surplus food giveaways are gaining in popularity while “Freecycle” style schemes are encouraging more reuse of many household items.
It’s 10 years since the Council abandoned its plans for a salvage and reuse site. Perhaps its time to revive that project?
In the meantime, some attention to the effects of lockdown in the City is needed.
Nationally lockdown 1 saw both the volume and composition of household waste shift to levels seen during a “traditional Christmas period”, with some local authorities seeing a 30% increase in dry recycling volume. With many people working from home and businesses reducing their output, especially in the hospitality sector, more plastic and glass in particular has been sent for recycling from households.
Not surprisingly there was a reduction in commercial waste volumes.
What the long term effects of more people working from home will be needs to be factored into the York Councils forward planning.
The Council says that it has received over 7,000 responses and 22,000 comments during the recent recycling consultation
It faces a major dilemma now as it tries to reconcile its wish to reduce the costs of the waste collection service with residents aspirations.
Waste collection has consistently rated as the top public service when residents have been asked to rank the services provided by the Council.
The key question – so far unanswered – is “if it ain’t broke, why fix it”?
The Councils media release reads “City of York Council would like to thank all residents who provided their feedback during the recycling changes consultation
The consultation has seen one of the largest responses to-date, with over 7,000 submissions and over 22,000 comments.
The 6-week consultation ended Tuesday (11 May) and will now be taken to an Executive meeting on 20 June, after collating the responses.
In addition to the online survey, the council commissioned a series of independently run focus groups to ensure as many residents’ view could be reflected in the final findings.
The focus groups encompassed views from residents across the city, including residents living in terraced properties, and were staggered over a period of time to ensure key themes emerging from the online consultation were able to be explored further.
The proposals come at a time when the focus on improving our environment has never been more important. The council wants to explore how it can collect recycling in a way that minimises our impact on the environment, improves the service on offer for residents and maximises our opportunity to recycle.
Recycling waste is cheaper than collecting items in black bins (household waste) and therefore residents can help the council save money whilst protecting the environment. The proposals also include the order of new waste and recycling fleet”.
It seems, for once, that the York Council has had a large response to its consultation on plans to introduce 3 weekly recycling collections.
A decision on the plan, due this month, is being deferred into June.
A report, contained in the forward decision making programme, says,
“Given the incredible engagement with the consultation and the large volume of responses, this report will be deferred until the 24 June 2021 allow the responses to be fully considered before Executive are asked to determine next steps”.
We are not surprised.
Bin emptying is one of the few public services provided by the Council that virtually everyone uses. There are unresolved issues for many residents with the proposals. Lack of storage space for 3 bins and 2 boxes was something that troubles many.
The Council has (not for the first time) boxed itself into a corner with a delay in ordering replacement refuse collection vehicles. Such vehicles have long lead in times.
A decision on bin design is needed before any vehicle orders can be placed.
In the meantime, more of the existing refuse collection fleet will reach the end of its service life, with possible implications for vehicle reliability.
On 1st April 2021 the Council placed an order worth £400,000 for the purchase of new wheeled bins.
It looks like the Council is struggling to provide a reliable waste collection service again.
Their web site reveals multiple failures this week. One of the reasons given is vehicle unreliability with an aging fleet partly to blame. Such a shame that replacement vehicles were not ordered on time.
We seem to have a blight of fly tipped mattresses in west York.
We reported one that had been dumped behind the railings on the Kingsway West/Green Lane snicket a few weeks ago. It’s still there as the Council claim that it is on “private land”. It’s actually on land that has traditionally been maintained by an internal drainage board. The authorities need to come to an agreement on how the “public realm” will be kept tidy in future.
Elsewhere a mattress appeared on Foxwood Park and was subsequently set on fire.
And another has been duimped on the Chapelfields Road – Wetherby Road snicket.
We think that it is about time manufacturers to come up with an accessible recycling system for bulky items like these.
The York Council has launched an online consultation today, apparently aimed at justifying its plans to move to 3 weekly recycling collections.
The muddled questionnaire includes several leading questions (will anyone say that they don’t care about the environment?).
It is naive
Waste collection is one Council service that every taxpayer uses. Everyone will have an opinion. They’ll struggle to express their priorities via this exercise.
It fails to to provide any meaningful background.
The costs and effectiveness of the existing system are not mentioned.
We aren’t told how much “extra” recycling the new arrangement would be targeted to produce. Our guess is very little – indeed if people, for practical reasons, choose not to have the new bins, then residual waste volumes could increase.
The practicalities of using larger bins, as well as boxes for paper storage, are not explored. These are likely to be acute in terraced streets and at some blocks of flats.
Given the move to on-line shopping and home deliveries, paper and cardboard volumes are set to increase. For some households two boxes to collect 3 weeks volume of paper waste will be inadequate
On the other hand, some residents will favour the use of a (mixed) wheeled bin to collect bottles and plastic. This is a a more secure arrangement than boxes in high winds although the same could be said of paper collection.
The stuttering performance of the household recycling sites is not explored. A missed opportunity given the long queues seen at Hazel Court recently (and the increase in fly tipping)
The Council’s initiative has little to do with increasing recycling rates. It is simply about cutting costs.
The plan to collect green garden waste between December and March is execrable. Effectively it would mean empty lorries touring York’s streets unnecessarily. Staff would be better used if they were redeployed onto winter maintenance, verge edging and other tasks during the winter.
There is no “Should we change or should we stick with the status quo?” final option
A council confident about its policies would include that question.
Ironically on the same day that this consultation was issued the Council wound up its SJB recycling company.
It expects to receive a £300,000 dividend from winding up the company which it jointly owns with the North Yorkshire County Council.
To understand the real reasons behind why queuing traffic is causing congestion problems at York’s central waste collection site you have to go back a few years.
Until 2012, York operated three civic amenity (recycling) sites that residents could use to dispose of unwanted items. One (at Beckfield Lane) was located on the west of the City, as second (Towthorpe) was located in the east with the third being Hazel Court.
In 2009 the Council announced a plan to create a salvage and reuse centre. It was likely to be located at the existing waste transhipment centre at Harewood Whin. It aimed to go a step further in encouraging the reuse of items that had not reached the end of their lives. Reuse/salvage has less environmental impact than either incineration (or even recycling)
A new Labour administration – elected in 2011 – made two mistakes. It scrapped plans for the salvage centre and simultaneously announced the closure of the Beckfield Lane site.
The site was subsequently developed for housing.
In effect, 75% of the City now tries to funnel its waste through the Hazel Court site.
There are some alternatives. So called “bring” bins are located in car parks. They typically provide facilities for recycling paper, cans, glass, clothes, and shoes.
The web based “freecycle” group seeks to put item donors in touch with potential users. (The service closed down for much of lockdown but is now operating again). Private scrap dealers also tour and collect in some areas, but it is a largely uncoordinated service. In some areas “surplus food” is distributed by volunteers to those in need.
For many years, ward committees funded visits by skips to estates. These provided an option for those without personal transport to dispose of items. In some wards the vehicles toured the area on a particular day picking up discarded items. This service has also largely disappeared.
The Council should publish details of the amount of waste being deposited at Hazel Court by type.
That will provide them with valuable information on what needs to be done to ease further the demands on Hazel Court and surrounding roads.
A council report published today confirms that its recycling fleet needs to be replaced urgently.
Obsolescent vehicles are causing the recycling service to become increasingly unreliable.
The Council ran into similar problems with its residual waste collection fleet three years ago when replacement ordering was delayed for too long.
Replacements have only recently started arriving. They include two electric trucks.
The proportion of waste that is recycled or composted in York remains around the national average of 44%.
The Councill seem set to agonise for several months before committing to purchasing new recycling vehicles.
It is likely to rule out food waste collection until details of a government scheme are published.
Meanwhile the focus of a review is likely to concentrate on whether to replace the present open box storage system with something more sophisticated. The Council has ruled out the comingling option (where recycling is collected in a single bin and is subsequently separated before being processed).
it does, however, seems set to continue the present agreement (started during the first COVID Lockdown) where only paper is connected separately from other recycling (bottles, tins, plastic etc)