Consultation with Council tenants in York

Disappointing report from the York Council.

Its over 12 months since the York Residents’ Federation were forced to fold. They were the victims of an over officious approach by some Council staff. Their independent input never seemed to be welcomed by senior Councillors or officials.

As with any voluntary body, those involved needed to feel that their contribution is valued. Too often it clearly wasn’t by the York Council.

Some Councillors to their credit saw this as a backward step and the LibDem manifesto at the May local elections gave a pledge to revive citywide consultation arrangements.

A report on the subject of tenant consultation has now been published and will be considered by one of the Councils scrutiny committees next week. The report can be found by clicking here

Sadly there is little new in the report. It has apparently not even been run past the several successful residents associations which exist in the City

The Council needs to take consultation and tenant involvement much more seriously.

York Council stops publishing Freedom of Information responses

The York Council has stopped publishing its responses to FOI requests on its web site.

For many years the authority made information publicly available on this web site

No FOI responses for 2019 published by Council

That practice stopped last summer although there was no consultation or publicity given to the change of policy.

The new LibDem administration has apparently gone along with this change of approach.

The Council is not required by law to publish responses but it is regarded as good practice. Most Councils do publish this information and it has the advantage of helping to discourage duplicate requests,

Some responses are published when a request has been submitted via the independent web site What do they Know” However this is not the York Councils preferred channel for submitting and answering information requests.

It provides is own “on line” information request form (click)

The Council received 2068 requests under FOI and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) during the last financial year

News blackout

The Council has also scrapped its “Ward News” web pages.

For many years the authority provided web pages which told local residents what was going on their local neighbourhoods. These were linked to background pages for each ward (click for example)

The pages typically carried “what’s on” lists and event posters. These have now been binned by the local authority.

The Council is also refusing to publish, on individual Residents Association web pages (example), details of their meetings. Copies of agendas and meeting minutes had been published by the Council for several years but,
in a recent decision, these have now been black-listed, ,

This seems to be part of a deliberate strategy aimed at reducing resident influence at West Offices. Half a dozen residents associations have been forced to disband in recent years while the overarching York Residents Federation was also ditched last year.

Liberal Democrat Councillors had previously promised more support for residents organisation.

Unfortunately things now seem to be getting worse rather than better.

Foxwood wins gold award

Sue and Shirley wiht cert

Sue and Shirley receive the award at today’s ceremony

The Foxwood Residents Association is celebrating today after being awarded a gold certificate by Britain in Bloom judges.

Over the last year residents have transformed the area around the community centre and park on Bellhouse Way. Recently they started to plant a bluebell wood in the area.

Today, at an awards ceremony held at York Racecourse, their work was recognised when they received the highest gold award in the open space category.

The gold award is the highest level ever achieved by the Foxwood group.  The certificates where received, on behalf of the  Residents Association, by chair Shirley Gumley and Secretary Sue Galloway.

Award certificate CC garden 3 Garden 4 garden 9

A tale of two communities

If anyone needed more proof that an effective partnership between the Council and residents can make a difference to a community, then they need look no further than the Kingsway and Cornlands neighbourhoods in the Westfield ward.

Kingsway abandoned noticeboard

Kingsway abandoned noticeboard

For many years the Kingsway residents, acting through the KARA organisation, liaised with local Councillors and officials.

Some three years ago the Council chose to totally ignore the representation that KARA made about a couple of planning applications which not only threatened public service standards in the area but also put the adjacent Hob Moor at risk.

The Council chose to ignore its own draft Local Plan and almost doubled the number of houses being built on the former Our Lady’s school site (now called “Hob Stones – which itself in recent weeks has slowed as one of the contractors went into administration).

Nearby the Council, despite a tangible lack of parking space in the estate, chose to build on a garage site in Newbury Avenue.

Again local representations were largely ignored.

Dumped mattress in Kingsway area

Dumped mattress in Kingsway area

The Residents Association were disgusted and threw in the towel.

Without an active Residents Association the Council then chose to end the regular skip visits to the area.

Fly tipping and dumping increased and a downward spiral began.

The most poignant symptom of the decline is probably the KARA noticeboard which has not been updated for nearly two years.

Fortunately the area now has new Councillors who will no doubt begin to re-establish a working relationship with the local community.

They could make a start by getting the noticeboards updated and the skip service restored.

Cornlads Road notiocebaord up to date

Cornlands Road noticeboard up to date

Ironically a small – but active – residents association, in the adjacent Cornlands area, manages to keep its two noticeboards bang up to date.