Road repairs backlog building in York

Residents will have a lot of sympathy with local highways inspectors who have the unenviable task of allocation very limited resources to road repairs. Poor weather has increased the number of potholes appearing over recent weeks. The poor state of highway surfaces is a reflection of inadequate investment in maintenance by the York Council for nearly a decade.

An additional pothole filling team is promised to be in place from April. Their arrival can’t come soon enough, at least in west York.

The Councils on line “report it” system now monitors highway defect reports. It is possible to see which reports have been read by officials. Several, reported over the last month, are recorded as “solved”. In reality the problems remain. The potholes have simply been judged not to be deep enough to warrant filling.

That is potentially bad news for cyclists.

Councillors receive very little in the way of monthly performance reports on highways activities, so its impossible to know whether the condition of roads and footpaths is getting worse or improving. The number of reports and complaints received is not routinely published.

Complaints about damage to verges, like parking on footpaths, go largely unmonitored. In summer it is a similar situation with highway obstructions like over grown hedges and weeds.

We hope for better in the future.

Askham Lane carriageway, near A1237 roundabout, will not be repaired
We’ve asked for detritus to be swept from the gutters in Otterwood Lane
The thorn hedge on the snicket to the rear on St Josephs Court (Cornlands Road) needs to be cut back before it becomes a hazard for pedestrians
The Acomb car park recycling area is tidier than it has been on some occasions in the past. Someone is still fly tipping in the area though.

“Deep clean” requested on key snickets

Many short cut “snickets” get a lot of use. They are vulnerable to litter while large amounts of leaf and other detritus can accumulate. Some are obstructed by overgrown hedges and trees. The surfaces can wear quite quickly because of constant footfall. Many seem to be neglected by the Council although they are an essential part of the  plan to encourage more people to walk for short journeys. They deserve a higher priority for the Councils resources. 

Potholes on carriageway are also a disincentive for cyclists. We’ve reported continuing problems and Gale Lane and Foxwood Lane today

Work is progressing on two major building projects in west York. The centre for the disabled on Ascot Way is now getting its roof installed. Modernisation work, on the adjacent Lincoln Court sheltered accommodation, is taking place at the same time.

Disabled centre on Ascot Way. Single lane traffic working now in place.

Work has also started on constructing houses on the controversial Lowfield development. A decision on how the section of the site reserved for elderly persons housing will be developed is expected next month. 

Lowfield development
Finally another example of a self seeded tree which has been allowed to grow to the point where it is pushing over the railings which protect a water pumping station (Foxwood Lane). There is plenty of room a few metres away on which trees could be planted which would cause no problems for anyone

Verge damage – no improvement despite Council promises.

Damaged verge on Thoresby Road 2019

Its over 3 years since the York Council looked at the problem of vehicle damage to grass verges. A lengthy report promised improvements not least in taking action against drivers who carelessly damaged verges.

Verge damage was costing taxpayers around £35 per sq metre to fix. Enforcement action was promised and some “Ward Committees” also said they would use their delegated budget to provide lay-bys.

St Stephens Road

There has sadly been little progress. Problem locations such as the flats on Thoresby Road continue to be blighted. Promised lay-bys have not materialised. There has been no enforcement action, no protective bollards or “eco grid” surfacing have been installed.

Drivers do need somewhere to park their vehicles but the Council’s response has been glacial recently.

Missed green bin emptying in Westfield today

Collections were missed in the Thoresby Road part of Westfield Ward today. A vehicle fault was blamed

Council officials have now written to concerned Councillors about the chronic unreliability of the bin emptying service. It has gone in 3 short years from being one of the most praised public services in the city to one of the most criticised.

Pressures on the service have contributed to an increase in litter drift in many areas with post round tidy up sometimes being missed out.

Officials say the problems are mainly caused by “an ageing fleet (directly linked to breakdowns), driver shortages and staff sickness”

“When the service is under pressure, we prioritise household waste collections followed by recycling and then garden waste”

“We are in the process of a wholescale fleet replacement. In the 10 years since the last vehicles were purchased the city has expanded so we need to account for this, however York is a historical city which is both beautiful and incredibly difficult to service in some areas when it comes to waste collection. I want to ensure that the next fleet of vehicles are capable of serving all areas of the city in the safest possible way. Health and safety for staff and residents is top of our agenda”.

“Staffing the service will continue to be a challenge, particularly when it comes to HGV drivers. This is a national problem and experienced by our surrounding Council areas. However, this is also exacerbated in York as we simply don’t have the industries to support this. However, we are investing significantly in developing our own staff through apprenticeship programmes and development opportunities. Working on the frontline in all weather is not a job for the faint hearted. One of the reasons that ‘new’ staff turnover is high is that people underestimate how demanding the job is”.

Unfortunately the service does not seem to have published an improvement programme with milestones. No figures are produced indicating the number of bins that aren’t emptied each day, so it is impossible to test whether the claimed “improvement trajectory” is a reality.

Critically officials are staying tight lipping about when new vehicles are expected in the City or indeed if they have even been ordered.

Many will be surprised that adequate spare resources did not form part of the original vehicle leasing deal.

In other parts of the world more automation has been tried with mixed results

Local Councillor commitment to tackle untidy streets

Several councillors have now responded to complaints about weeds, detritus and overgrown hedges in local streets.

Front Street

Joining Mark Warters and Tony Fisher, who operate on the east of the City, Westfield Councillor Andrew Waller has pledged to personally remove weeds from the Front Street pedestrian area. The precinct has been weed infested for over 3 months with growth around street furniture and trees a particular problem.

That is a shame because the image of an area – which in recent years has become more economically successful – can be disproportionately influenced by what people see on arrival. Front Street doesn’t have the advantage of the, York BID funded, clean up contractors that have brought major improvements to the York City centre environment.

Elsewhere we have asked for weeds to be treated in several locations. We think it is now time for the Council to give a public commitment to complete a tidy up programme within a specific timetable.

Overgrown thorn like brambles will be a hazard as darker nights approach. We’ve asked for those on the access road to the Thoresby Road garage block to be cut back
Another example – this one on Kingsway West- where basic spraying or strimming of areas around street furniture has not been competed.
Contractors should spray up to the edge of the footpath
Snickets are particularly vulnerable to weed growth and litter
Problem areas are taking weeks, sometimes months, to address
Some footpaths are now being eroded and will be more costly to repair

Some progress but more local issues reported in west York

The hedge which was obstructing the snicket linking Gale Lane and Bachelor Hill has been trimmed back.
Unfortunately the potentially hazardous thorn hedge branches on the Tithe Close snicket (they are at eye height) still need to be cut back from the footpath in two locations
Ideal growing conditions mean that hedges and bushes can quickly obstruct footpaths. This one is near the Dickson Park. We hope that all residents will check their boundaries
We’ve reported littering of the children’s playground at the Cornlands Park. Mostly beer cans! Unfortunately the spring closing mechanism on the fence gate is not working. This means that dogs can access the area. This may lead to fouling problems. We ask users to make sure that the gate is kept closed./
Continuing problems with litter on some snickets in the Thoresby Road area. There is a growing need for some enforcement action.
Some Councillors are now pressing for the Councils weed treatment schedules to be made public. Scenes like the above on The Reeves are not uncommon these days.

Litter still blighting suburb

Despite several requests for a root cause analysis of, and action to address, littering hot-spots problems continue to grow. There are particular issues on routes used by some students on their way to and from school (although this may be a coincidence).

Hot-spots include snickets and bus stops.

We believe that the Council should increase its surveillance of such locations and issue penalty charge notices to offenders.

Litter at Cornlands Road bus top near school entrance. We need a new litter bin here.

The Thoresby Road snicket, near the shops, has a particular problem with litter
The snickets linking The Reeves to Thoresby Road need cleaning and resurfacing
The Tithe Close snicket is subject to littering. The main problem at present though is a thorn bush which is obstructing the footpath. It is potential hazard after dark

More off street parking bays completed in Westfield

Most of the promised new parking bays in the Westfield area have now been completed. These are funded from a combination of the Westfield ward delegated budget and the Housing Estate Improvement Programme.

An additional 5 off street lay-by spaces are due to be provided in Tudor Road shortly. These will be funded as part of the Lowfields redevelopment project.

Windsor Garth parking lay by
New parking bay near Beverley Court now in use
Danesfort Avenue off street spaces completed
Newbury Avenue spaces in use
Thoresby Road lay-by almost completed

More off street parking being provided but litter is still a problem

New off street parking being provided in Bachelor Hill

Good to see some progress on providing more off street parking spaces. Matrix (eco grid) surfacing being provided in Bachelor Hill. Follows on fromt the completion of two additional spaces in Spurr Court.

Unfortunately we still have problems with litter. We’ve reported more issues today (see below)

Litter at Cornlands park entrance

Litter on Thoresby Road snicket

Action taken on local problems in the Westfield area

Thoresby Road garage area. Resurfacing requested and attention to litter and overgrown ghedges

We’ve asked for off street parking to be provided near the little Tudor Road flats. This could be done quiet cheaply when plant is working on the adjacent building site

Also in little Tudor Road we’ve asked for detritus to be cleared