It isn’t just cycle paths which have seen a major increase in use over the last few months.
Sometimes long forgotten Public Rights of Way have been rediscovered as residents have sought to heed government advice to exercise safely.
Nationally a campaign grouphas identified threats to many open spaces.
Sadly, in York, building work is underway on former sports fields at Lowfield and on Windmill Lane. Several spaces in the green belt remain under threat.
The loss of this green space needs to be compensated for. It is important not only for peoples health but also to conserve natural fauna and flora.
The opportunities to create additional green spaces near the City centre are limited – although what is available could perhaps be better managed – but there are more options available between the City boundary and the ring road.
Local Councillors could lead the fight to improve the availability of both urban and county parks by identifying suitable areas which could be protected under “village green” legislation.
There are several opportunities on the west of the City where access could be sustained for people living in the Westfield, Dringhouses and Acomb wards. Some proactive leadership is now required
Last year the York Council did say that they wanted to extend and add to the number of strays in the City. There has so far been little tangible progress to report on that promise.
The Council has allocated virtually the whole of its pedestrian/cycling budget to schemes in central York. £500,000 had been earmarked for delegation for ward committees to spend addressing local issues.
In a decisionlist (below) published today, the work programme concentrates on cycling schemes claiming that no improvements for walkers were identified (other than possible long term improvements to pedestrian crossings).
There is no funding allocated for schemes in the Westfield, Dringhouses, Holgate, Acomb or Rural West wards.
Even pleas for cycle margin work on roads like Bradley Lane, Foxwood Lane and School Street have been ignored, as has a request for resurfacing work on the Knapton – Rufforth off road cycle track. The latter has been heavily used during the lockdown period with sections now breaking up .
Works to improve access for walkers don’t even rate a mention in the decision notice.
No action to tackle public footpath ponding
Among the schemes local Councillors were asked to back were actions to tackle difficulties on footpaths linking Westfield Place and Grange Lane as well as within the Council maintained section of Acomb Wood. All that was required at these locations were short sections of chippings to avoid flooded areas. A relatively inexpensive initiative.
Despite the budget apparently having been delegated for local determination, it seems to have been carved up by an official in discussions with the (Executive) Councillor for Fishergate; a ward which gets the bulk of the funding along with the Guildhall and Micklegate areas. There is no sign in the report of any influence on priorities by ward Councillors or residents.
It is unclear how much each scheme will cost, but it is unlikely that the funding will stretch far down the list.
Cycle margin leveling would encourage more cycling
The money could probably most usefully have been allocated to cycle margin repair work. This type of resurfacing programme sees the inner 2 metres of the most uneven carriageways levelled to allow safe passage for two wheeled machines. There was a margins repair programme in place until about 2011 when it was scrapped.
A further £500,000 was allocated for highway repair works which should also have been determined by local Councillors at neighbourhood level.
The Council has not said where this money will be spent although the recent lockdown has served to highlight just how poor some road surfaces are. A list of priorities in Westfield was given to Ward Councillors some 6 months ago but so far there has been no response.
The latest controversy, following on from the Bishopthorpe Road carriageway closure, may serve to confirm the views of those taxpayers who feel that sections of the Council are now out of control and are pursuing their own blinkered, parochial agenda.
The Council Leader may need to make some changes to Executive portfolios if he is to avoid large sections of the York community becoming increasingly alienated from his administration.
The following changes will be introduced from this Sunday 22 March
PARK & RIDE
Park & Ride services will run every 15 minutes instead of the current 10 minute intervals. Services will start and finish at normal times We will be producing a specially-printed timetable which will be posted at P&R stations and stops for customers.
CITY & UNIVERSITY SERVICES
Sundays: Will operate a normal Sunday service until 2000, after which evening services on 1, 4, 6, 66 will operate at hourly intervals.
Monday – Friday: Will operate a Saturday Service with additional early morning journeys Monday to Friday, evening services on 1, 4, 6, 66 will operate at hourly intervals after 2000.
Saturday: Will operate a normal Saturday service until 2000, after which evening services on 1, 4, 6, 66 will operate at hourly intervals.
We are advising customers to check for updates on the First York Twitter feed and the company’s website https://www.firstgroup.com/yorkwhich also has customer information about Coronavirus. Detailed times will be published shortly.
Support for vulnerable people
To help meet residents’ needs, particularly those most at risk or isolated from communities, the Council has created a help line and support.
Those vulnerable residents who do not currently have any access to support, but who need help because of impact of COVID-19, are asked to email our Community Support Coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 551550 for assistance.
Thank you for sharing the messages regarding volunteering, we hope that you can continue to do so. We are asking that people register their support by emailing email@example.com calling 01904 551550.
We will ask for details of their skills and capacity, match them to an existing voluntary group or train them ourselves, coordinating with city groups and council requirements, manage them to deliver support where it is needed.
We have a free post address & will write letters to anyone who is isolated & doesn’t use the internet but still needs to be connected! Our Freepost address is: Healthwatch York, FREEPOST RTEG-BLES-RRYJ 15 Priory Street YO1 6ET
We have therefore taken the very difficult decision to temporarily close all Fenwick stores to the public from 6pm on Thursday 19th March until further notice
As from Thursday 19 March
1. Only 3 items per customer on every product line 2. All meat, fish, deli counters and salad bars closed 3. All stores close at 10pm 4. Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9am – 10am – elderly customers only except in Express stores 5. To free up slots for vulnerable people nd who normally shop on line or click and collect please consider shopping in store to free up slots 6. Will be encouraging card payment and introducing distancing measures at checkouts
We’ve been out and about checking on public service standards in west York in the wake of the recent storms. These are some of this weeks reports
The Council have promised a thorough review of the snickets in the area. The residents association is currently conducting an audit of standards. In several there are problems with worn paths, weeds, litter, dumping and damaged boundary fencing. During the summer months, anti social behaviour is an issue in some while other s are obstructed by trees and hedges.
Hopefully these issues will all be addressed later it the year.
Cllr Ashley Mason continued to closely scrutinise the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) at yesterdays North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel.
The PCC agreed with Cllr Mason that work was needed to review neighbourhood policing in York, following public concerns.
Because of these concerns, a public meeting for residents and community leaders has been organised to raise issues with the Deputy Chief Constable on the 19th December, at West Offices, York (see below).
We have seen a more effective police presence in west York over the last few weeks. Offices attended Wednesdays Foxwood Residents Association meeting to provide an update following incidents of vandalism in the area.
The neighbourhood policing team (left) have also been using social media to update residents (left) on the progress they are making.
Thursday’s Police and Crime Panel saw welcomed engagement with younger residents, as students from York College’s Public Services course attended to put questions to the panel. Cllr Mason, who originally suggested to the panel to hold the meeting at York College, was pleased to see young people participating.
Cllr Mason pressed the Commissioner regarding Freedom of Information (FOI) practice at the OPCC and North Yorkshire Police, and additionally, requested an update on the progress of the 101 service.
Given recent negative coverage regarding the Force’s handling of FOI requests and reports of callers suffering delays to speak to operators via the101 service, Cllr Mason felt it fundamental that Julia Mulligan update the public.
Cllr Ashley Mason said:
“We must continue to scrutinise the OPCC and ensure vital police services are maintained to an excellent standard. Recent reports have suggested that this has not been the case and therefore, the OPCC must be upfront and relay this information back to the public they serve. Services such 101 are hugely important to the local community and I will continue to push for better standards.
I was also delighted to see students from York College at Thursday’s Panel, having originally requested that the Panel increase its engagement with younger residents. It is so important that young people are heard at the local level and I will continue to amplify their voice where possible in all areas of my council duties.”
Residents can attend the public meeting on the 19th December at 6pm. There is no need to pre-book, simply attend West Offices. For further details, please contact Cllr Mason on firstname.lastname@example.org
The results of a public opinion survey conducted by local Councillors in the Chapelfields estate were published. One issue raised by residents was lack of progress on repairing the local bus shelter.
…by Thursday, following work by Cllr Andrew Waller, the Bramham Road bus shelter had been repaired.
Andrew had also reported full recycling bins in the Acomb car park
…and a damaged street sign on Front Street
The recent poor weather has brought several problems. Earlier in the week we reported several problems with detritus and overgrown hedges with particular issues on snickets in The Reeves, Thoresby Road and Tennent Road
The surface of the snicket linking Thoresby Road and Cornlands Road is uneven. We have asked for it to be repaired
Broken glass on the Tithe Close footpath was reported for action
Sadly still no action by the Council to trim back the overgrown hedge on Askham Lane
Cllr Andrew Waller, together with several residents, have complained about the recent proliferation of fly posters advertising a fair and circus. The posters have to be removed within 2 weeks.
Work is progressing well on building the new bee hotel at the Community Centre in Foxwood
Unfortunately one of the bus shelters on Foxwood Lane has been vandalised over the weekend
Cllr Sheena Jackson has reported problems with loose direction signs and broken glass on the Hob Moor cycle track. We’ve also suggested that the Council take the opportunity of drier weather to improve the surfacing of pedestrian entrances (above right) onto the moor.
We’ve reported more fly tipping on Acomb Wood Meadow. The AGM of the Foxwood Residents Association last week was told that the Council had made little progress in response to a plea that skip services be restored to the area. The weed killing programme is due to start shortly. Snickets in the Greenwood Grove area are among those which will be treated
Meanwhile in the City centre the derelict site next to the new hotel at the Barbican is an eyesore. We’ve told the Council that they should act to have the area cleaned up. The land was earmarked for a block of flats but that project seems to have stalled.