Ward highway improvements list published – nothing for Westfield?

It looks like the Westfield area has been snubbed in the latest highways maintenance budget allocations.

In another “behind closed doors” decision, tens of thousands of pounds, from “delegated” ward budgets, has been allocated for highway and footpath repairs plus some other work  like new parking laybys.

Areas benefiting are Bishopthorpe, Clifton, Copmanthorpe, Dringhouses, Fishergate, Guildhall,  Heslington, Heworth, Hull Road, Holgate, Huntington, Micklegate and Rural West.

One of the roads omitted from repair programme

The absence of Westfield from the list is doubly surprising.

Some local roads are in an appalling condition.

Local Councillors were given lists of problem locations over 6 months ago.

Poor weather in the intervening period has seen some surfaces – such as those on the Morrell Court access road – deteriorate quite markedly.

The report to the decision meeting gives details of how much money is available for local ward Councillors to manage.

It also explains the assessment process.

The Ward Highways Capital Scheme is a four-year programme formed from £250k p.a. of capital resources set aside from the main Highways Capital Programme. It is designed to allow wards to bring forward schemes that are important to local residents but would struggle to be prioritised as part of the main capital programme. A nominal allocation is made to each ward on a population basis. Wards are able to aggregate their allocation by carrying over / bringing forward annual allocations in order to undertake more substantial schemes.

The programme was enhanced in 19/20 through the allocation of the following one-off amounts to it:

  • £500k to use for highways improvements in respect of Roads and Footways
  • £500k to use for Walking and Cycling improvements

(NB. Details of how the walking and cycling budget is being spent were published a couple of weeks ago. Yet again no projects in the Westfield area were agreed).

The Council says the aim is to use this funding flexibly to meet the needs of wards whilst taking account of all relevant legislation and statutory guidance as highways are heavily regulated environments.

The following process is used to identify schemes:

  • Community Involvement Officers liaise with ward councillors, residents and key partners to identify potential schemes
  • The Highways team bring forward condition surveys, customer requests, and safety audits for consideration by wards to help inform their decision-making together with information showing the roads in the ward that are to be repaired through the main capital programme
  • Ideas are taken to a ward walk-about for initial consideration followed, where appropriate, by detailed feasibility work and any appropriate community / statutory consultation
  • The Highways team then form the prioritised ideas as far as possible into a coherent capital programme”

Wards not receiving an allocation were Acomb, Haxby, Heworth Without, Hull Road, Holgate and Westfield.

The list of improvements that have been agreed can be viewed by clicking here

The good and the bad of decision making at the York Council

The present administration at the York Council was elected on a raft of manifesto promises which included a commitment to improved street level public service standards as well as to more open decision making.

They rightly aimed to achieve this by delegating more decisions so that they could be taken at community level.

In practice ward Councillors were given more neighbourhood responsibilities supported by an enhanced budget.

Additional funding was made available for general improvements. The Housing Estate improvement budget processes were also changed in an attempt to give those areas that did not have a residents association a share of the available resources.

Although progress in delivering schemes which were identified in the summer has been painfully slow, at least some attempt has been made to provide more transparency. The latest list of approved schemes can be downloaded (link). It lacks update information on implementation progress but it is better than was provided by the last Council.

Decisions are now being publicised on a regular basis. The latest was agreed at the end of February (click)

Latest approvals

Its a great shame though that that the new delegated budget – totalling £1 million – and intended for highway, cycle and footpaths improvements has not produced any tangible results. The condition of several local highways is now very poor, yet the budget remains unused.

The Council today published what purported to be a delegated decision (which has apparently been approved by a senior manager) detailing  how the budget will be used. However anyone viewing the Council web site would still be unable to see a list of the roads which might benefit. It simply says that the schemes  are located in the Fulford and Derwent Wards.

There are poorly maintained road surfaces across the City

This really isn’t good enough.

Road requiring attention were identified by local residents over 6 months ago.   That is long enough to allow for resurfacing to be arranged. 

We are now within 3 weeks of the end of the financial year.

Parking bays – the wait goes on

We’ve said before that the length of time it takes the York Council to install parking bays is excessive.

In some cases, even surveying possible sites has taken over a year. That’s too long. The Council should put the work out to a contractor on a “design and build” basis.

Here are a couple of roads where residents have been waiting  over 2 years for work to start (lay-bys are funded through delegated ward budgets).

Longest outstanding job is outside the flats on Askham Lane. Been waiting for nearly 4 years. Drivers have little option but to park on the verge. although this doesn’t help the appearance of the area

The Council has been agonising for over 2 years about where to put a lay-by on Dijon Avenue. It is needed before building work starts on the Lowfield School site. After saying that the lay-by should be built near the junction with Green Lane they decided a few weeks ago that it wasn’t practical because of electrical plant under the verge. Nevertheless drivers still park on the verges in the area

Also in Dijon Avenue we’ve reported damaged fencing around the amenity area