Good news as regional project responds to national fire concerns about second hand white goods

A project by Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group and Electrical Safety Assessments Ltd tackled national concerns about the fire safety of second hand white goods.

This spring, Trading Standards officers from eight authorities carried out tests and inspections on electrical appliances offered for sale.

During the first stage, retail outlets selling pre-owned white goods were visited. Superficial inspections were carried out on items such as; washing machines; tumble dryers; microwave ovens; cookers; and refrigerators.

Next, detailed inspections of test-purchased appliances were undertaken by City of York Council and Doncaster Council.

Testing included checking the rating, make, model and serial number; checking the supply cord and plug; detailed damage checks; electrical insulation strength; and internal wiring and connections.

The inspections carried out found all the second hand white goods within the area to be safe for purchase, and did not incur any warnings or prosecutions for business owners. (more…)

York Council progress on fire risk fears

The York Council has published a report updating residents on the progress made in addressing issues revealed by the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier in the year. The Grenfell fire resulted in the deaths of 71 occupants of the high rise housing block.

It is the third in a series of reports. The Council had previously confirmed that there are no comparable high rise housing blocks in the City

In the autumn the Council had been told that 307 fire risk assessments (FRA) were needed in the City. The latest report says that an inspection contract is “currently being finalised with a suitably qualified contractor with a target date (subject to contract) for completion by March 2018”.

A schedule for the outstanding FRA reviews has been produced which prioritises those property types most at risk; i.e. converted houses/flats; sheltered and older persons housing and hostels; and blocks where fire incidents have previously occurred.

A more detailed check of fire spread prevention measures, e.g. between floors or rooms of a building, will be carried out as vacancies occur.

A national review of the effectiveness of building regulations has resulted in an interim report.  The report concentrates on buildings of more than 4 stories in height (of which there are few in York). “Most professional bodies seem to accept that the current regulatory arrangements are not working”.

The national report concludes,

The work of the review to date has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose. This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulators”.

The York report will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 8th January 2018

Taxi safety shock following checks in York

Another series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out in a multi-agency operation involving council and police officers, to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Officers from partners including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) supported the operations. Bradford and Calderdale councils were also involved as they represent some of the neighbouring authorities which licence taxis and which can legally operate in the region.

The operations ran throughout the evenings and into the mornings of Friday 13 October and Friday 3 November. Over the two operations, a total of 44 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages which were operating in the city that evening were stopped and checked.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed, insured and that the vehicles they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads.

As a result, seven vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA due to the faults found including:

  • a defective tyre (sidewall bulging/casing separated)
  • a tyre with less than the minimum tread requirement
  • defective or inoperative headlights or brake lights
  • a serious fuel leak.

Another seven vehicles were found to have faults and the drivers were given three days to fix them and get MOT approval. The variety of mechanical defects included:

  • defective
  • engine oil
  • split drive shaft cover
  • defective seat belt
  • anti roll bars inoperative

A further eight drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by taxi enforcement officers about breaches of taxi licensing rules.

In addition, eight private hire vehicles were suspended from working due to mechanical defects and other breaches of taxi and private hire licensing rules.

A pizza delivery vehicle was also seized by police for having no insurance.

“Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email so we can investigate.”

Inspector Andy Godfrey, of York City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have continued to conduct joint operations with City of York Council in an effort to improve safety for taxi customers.

“Members of the public who use taxis and private hires in York can be reassured that once again, the majority of vehicles are safe and in good order.

“Our most recent operation, however, has identified some issues and I would remind all taxi drivers that it is their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in good order, and free of defects before they use it, regardless of if it is a company vehicle.

“We will continue to carry out similar operations in the near future to ensure that standards are being maintained.”


Works set to improve Monkgate roundabout safety

City of York Council will be improving the layout of the roundabout on Monkgate in an effort to improve safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Work will start on Monday 6 November and is expected to be completed by early December. Work will take place from 7am-3.30pm, Monday to Friday. To ensure that it is carried out safely there will be some lane closures during the works.

The improvements will see the approach to the roundabout on Huntington Road altered with improved crossing facilities at the traffic island. There will also be a new mandatory cycle lane on Huntington Road o enable cyclists to bypass any queuing traffic to use the off road route.

A shared use foot/cycle path will also be created on the corner of Huntington Road and Heworth Green. The width of the traffic islands on Heworth Green will also be increased to allow cyclists to use them safely.

The scheme was originally approved at an executive member for transport and planning decision session on 13 October 2016. This followed a consultation with homeowners on Monkgate and Huntington Road with most supporting the safety improvements.

As with any construction work, there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption. Residents in the affected area have been contacted directly and assured that everything reasonably possible will be done to keep this to a minimum. However, motorists should expect some delays and plan their journey accordingly.

Changes made to Thanet Road highway plans

The responsible Council executive member – Ian Gillies – has today thrown out plans which would have  seen use of the bus lay-bys on Thanet Road discontinued.

The plan to close the lay-by on the Rugby Club side of the road caused major concerns with drivers fearing that sight lines would be impeded by  buses parked on the highways.

There were also fears that traffic congestion would increase as would pollution levels.

The proposal was opposed by officers of the Foxwood Residents Association who argued that the plans were “over engineered” and unnecessarily expensive.

An alternative, which would have kept the  bus lay-bys together with an advisory 20 mph speed limit and guard rails to prevent children running onto the highway, was tabled by local residents.

The bus lay-bys have now been saved but additional road humps are to be installed, despite the fact that the Council has now admitted that average speeds are well below the 30 mph limit.

The Residents Association has asked that they be consulted early on when proposals like these are considered in future.


So how safe are Council flats in York?

We’ve been out checking today

Clearly a check needs to be made on those blocks which have not recently been redecorated to ensure notices are up to date.

Fire procedure notice

We think that the housing department needs to proactively communicate with tenants to reassure them following this weeks tragic news from London.

Combustible storage notice

York has relatively few high rise blocks but, even at those with 2 or 3 storeys, checks need to be made on alarm systems, lighting, fire doors and electrical safety.

The results of the latest Fire Service safety audit needs to be publicly displayed in each block

We think that tenants should be offered smoke alarms and free electrical equipment safety checks.

We hope that the council will ensure that both primary and secondary safety requirements are highlighted in any planning decisions made on new or modernised flat developments ( including conversions such as the one agreed for the former Nestle factory as recently as Thursday).

Fire exit direction sign

Finally the Council needs to reconsider whether it should be consulting on transferring its stock into the management of an “arms length company”. This weeks events point to the insensitivity of such arrangements with both tenants and Councillors frustrated at a lack of engagement by officials.

Better to refine the tried and tested Council housing model which at least allows tenants to exercise some control through the ballot box.

The present system is far from perfect but appears to be better than the other available options.

Education day aims to ensure York’s students stay safe

Police and educational institutions in York have joined forces to make sure young people studying in the city stay safe.
Welfare and security staff from York St John University, the University of York and York College attended a training and education day with North Yorkshire Police officers and local charities earlier this month.

The day, on Thursday 6 October, focused on vulnerability, providing the right support to students, and protecting them from drinking to excess, drugs, domestic abuse, hate crime and other issues affecting young people.

Attendees received presentations from Supporting Victims, the Lifeline drug abuse charity, and police officers with specialist training in dealing with hate crime, sexual abuse and modern-day slavery.

Dozens of cyclists spoken to in bike light safety operation in York

A campaign to keep road users safe in York saw 17 cyclists reported for offences and 12 more given words of advice on Tuesday 18 October.
Dozens of cyclists spoken to in bike light safety operationOfficers were at the city’s

  • Micklegate,
  • Bootham and
  • Walmgate Bars

for two hours on Tuesday evening, to target the minority of cyclists who cause a danger to themselves and others by cycling without lights during hours or darkness, as well as those who cycle on footpaths.

The high-profile campaign will continue as the nights draw in, with further evening operations planned.

As part of the campaign, City of York Council has funded high-visibility rucksack covers and small sets of emergency cycle lights. They will be offered to young people and other vulnerable people who would otherwise have to walk home if they were forced to continue their journey without lights. Officers will continue to issue tickets for cycling offences if necessary.

PCSO Chris Turner, of York Police, said: “The nights are getting much darker now, and it is really important that cyclists take their safety on the roads seriously. Having lights on your bike which are in good working order is essential to ensure that other road users can see you and drive accordingly.

“This operation has in the past been well-received by cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Thanks to our joint work with City of York Council, cyclists who put themselves and others at risk can be educated and sent on their way, not just with a ticket or fine, but also with the means to get home safely if they are vulnerable.”

Police out tonight keeping York safe for young people

hoodyOrganisations in York are working together this summer to help children and young people enjoy their holiday safely right from the start.

Over the school holidays, North Yorkshire Police and City of York Council will head Operation Liberate, an initiative that will identify young people in potentially vulnerable situations, and take steps to keep them safe.

While York is a very safe city, young people may be at risk due to their location, the time of day, their peer group and the potential for anti-social behaviour.

Operation Liberate ran for the first time in 2015, and got underway this year on Saturday 23 July. Under the operation, young people identified to be potentially at risk can be brought to a designated ‘place of safety’. There, they will be spoken to and advised by police and volunteers, and referred on to other organisations if necessary.

Partner agencies including domestic abuse charity IDAS, the NHS, Lifeline and the council will work together with specially-trained volunteers to ensure any particularly vulnerable young people get the support they need.

Inspector Lee Pointon, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “It’s vital that we do everything we can to help young people in York keep safe. During the summer holidays, some youngsters may find themselves in potentially harmful situations. We and partner organisations can support them, to ensure they don’t put themselves at unnecessary risk.

“Operation Liberate is all about working together to support these young people so we can identify their needs at an early stage and help avoid any problems recurring in the future.”