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.
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.
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.
Its over 3 years since the York Council looked at the problem of vehicle damage to grass verges. Alengthy reportpromised 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.
There has sadly been little progress. Problem locations such as the flats on Thoresby Roadcontinue 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.
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
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
“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
Several councillors have now responded to complaints about weeds, detritus and overgrown hedges in local streets.
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.
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.