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.
Anyone expecting the York Council’s Executive to take decisive action, to address declining public service standards at their meeting yesterday, will have been disappointed.
Despite a plea from Independent Councillor Mark Warters that a team be set up to deal with outstanding complaints, the Councils leadership remained tight lipped.
Cllr Warters was echoing a similar call from a growing number of Liberal Democrat supporters in the City
Many residents may conclude that there is something seriously wrong at West Offices.
Not only is there no timetable for addressing outstanding issues, but communications with residents are poor while many local Councillors (not all) fail to roll their sleeves up and tackle issues directly in their wards.
The York Council is no longer a “can do” organisation. It’s become a “maybe things will get better next year” type authority.
That won’t do. Its the kind of complacent attitude that has prompted a rise in more extreme political ideologies elsewhere in the country and abroad. It needs to be reversed, and quickly.
Not everything is bad, of course. Some individual Council officials are making limited progress in improving our streets as we show here.
The Press and other local media outlets are running stories
today about excessive weed growth on paths and in drainage channels in the City.
The local Tories are criticising the Lib Dem/Green administration for the problems.
The published stories give the impression that the Tories have been actively campaigning
on the issue.
That is misleading.
Problems with the effectiveness of the weed spraying contract
became apparent in May. As the contract was relatively new, and responsible executive
members were busy changing roles post the local elections, It seemed fair to
allow a few weeks for things to settle down and for the chemical treatments to
We reported serval dozen problem areas including the
longstanding weed problem on the parapets of the Ouse Bridg,e together with a
build-up of silt on many traffic islands.
Nothing much seemed to happen. As usual with this sort of report
there was no feedback from the Council to those who had highlighted the problems.
There was still no response from Council officials. Councillors
were notified but the only response came from Mark Warters who was having problems
in his Osbaldwick ward.
6 more weeks passed and we felt we had no option but to make a formal complaint (see below). This was tabled on 15th August. It was copied to the Councils leadership.
An official replied on 21st August blaming the weather for the problems.
The complaint was escalated on 22nd August and we await a further response.
The Council’s leadership did announce yesterday (Wednesday) that they would conduct a review of weed control processes at a meeting which will be held in October. What happens in the interim remains unclear.
We are quite clear that a blitz on weeds and overgrown hedges, using mechanical removal methods, is needed urgently.
One other aspect that needs to be clarified is the responsibility for keeping former trunk roads like the A59 clear. Highways England confirmed that it was down to local authorities to deal with these highways. Yet the Council’s current weed control contract seems to exclude these roads (they have certainly not been sprayed).
Ironically a review of performance indicators, being considered by the Councils Executive later today, pointedly puts no focus on the appearance of the City’s streets.
While the Tories are being opportunistic in highlighting the current weed problems, they might have a point if a Council, committed at the recent election to raising street level public service standards, failed to address quickly and effectively significant failures when they have been identified.
Invasive weeds were being cut back on Hob Moor yesterday. The area is fortunate in having supporters who will undertake this sort of task with the Friends of Hob Moor one of the most successful of local amenity societies
However, there are some problems on the Moor. Hedges have become overgrown with several paths, including part of Kingsway West, being obstructed.
Little Hob Moor (adjacent to Tadcaster Road) is showing signs of neglect.
So there is some work to be done. As this area is off the public highway (and relatively “safe”) gardening could be undertaken by – suitably equipped – volunteers. The Council does, however, need to add amenity area management to its promised weed control review agenda.
Senior York Councillors have confirmed that they will be reviewing how the City controls weed growth in gullies, on footpaths, on traffic islands and on other hard landscaped areas. A review meeting will take place on 7th October.
The move comes after many residents, together with some local Councillors including Independent Mark Warters from Osbaldwick, pointed out that this years spraying programme simply hadn’t had the required effect..
More perceptive residents will, however, have also worked out that, by October, weeds will be dying back naturally anyway.
So some action over the next 6 weeks is still needed.
This can really only be done now using mechanical – rather than chemical – processes.
We can report that today the weeds that disfigure the Ouse Bridge still remain along with assorted empty beer cans.
Three weeks after local residents sprayed weed killer onto an overgrown traffic island on Northfield Lane die back has been limited. Further investigation revealed that around 4 inches of silt had accumulated around the island. Moss is a major problem on this and other similar islands
The area in question is important because it is immediately adjacent to the Councils Poppleton Park and Ride site. It is one of the first (and last) neighbourhoods that tourists are likely to see. Neglect is not a good selling point for a City with an economy dependent on visitor income
The nearby A59 is worse with weeds around 1 metre high.
While we don’t advocate residents taking matters into their own
hands unless it is safe to do so, there are some roads where relatively little
local effort could produce a startling improvement.
In every problem location we do ask residents and visitors
to report obstructions – including excessive weed growth, overhanging hedges
and trees – to the York Council.
We understand that a Councillor plans to raise the issue of failures in this years weed control contract at an executive meeting which is taking place on Thursday. Despite there being 300 pages of reports to the meeting, they fail to review the Councils performance on key street level public services. The Councillors responsible for street public services are likely to come under increasing pressure to issue a public statement, and initiate a recovery plan, aimed at restoring acceptable standards.
Thanks to Osbaldwick Councillor Mark Waters – a professional horticulturalist – we have identified one of the weeds that is damaging road and footpath surfaces on the west of the City
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), often called
mare’s tail, is an invasive, deep-rooted perennial weed that will spread
quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage, crowding out less vigorous plants in
beds and borders.
says that horsetail “is persistent, and several applications of a strong weed
killer – possibly over a number of years – may be necessary to
completely eradicate the problem”
Horsetail has appeared in several areas in west York. These include the Council garage areas on Kingsway West and on little Green Lane. It is already doing considerable damage to the recently bitmaced forecourt access road at Green Lane.
We will now be formally submitting an official complaint about lack of action on weed growth in several areas. For example, weeds reported in early May on the Beaconsfield Street back lane have still not been cut back. It is a similar picture at many traffic islands
Residents have called on local Councillors to intervene to ensure that weeds growing on local paths and gutters are cleared. Today’s weather, damp and warm, is likely to see the problem get worse over the weekend.
In the little Green Lane garage area grass is now growing through the recently resurfaced forecourt. It is a similar situation in Windsor Garth