Bid to end behind closed doors decisions at York Council

open-door-in-white-brick-wall-Stock-Photo-doors

It could be early autumn before new all party committees get the chance to debate the York Council’s upcoming policy plans.

A report being considered on 13th July proposes a return to a form of Executive Member advisory panel (EMAP) which was in use in York during the early part of the last decade. These meetings involve Councillors from all parties and are held in public.  To aid planning, meetings occupied a scheduled day each month and were cancelled if there was no business to consider.

Introduced by the Liberal Democrats when they took power, EMAPs sought to widen discussion on policies which affected the City. The sessions were abandoned in 2008 when Labour – who were the main opposition in a balanced Council at the time – refused to participate saying that they preferred the (confrontational) option of “calling in” some proposals for review.

Under the new arrangements, so called “Officer in Consultation” decision meetings are also to be scrapped. These were the meetings which prompted the “behind closed doors” criticisms of the old Council.

Instead these decisions will be taken at an open Executive member meeting.

Of course, how the system works in practice remains to be seen. It’s success rests heavily on future decisions being correctly identified  on the Councils “Forward Plan” although this will – rightly – become a “rolling“ programme in future

The new system doesn’t address the issue of Council officials taking decisions exploiting their delegated powers. This has been a particular problem in the Housing department where some wide reaching decisions – including one which saw visits by skips abandoned on some estates – have been taken without even, apparently, the knowledge of Councillors.

Similar issues arise with the growth of third party agencies such as the trusts and companies which now run our museums, libraries and economic development activities.

Thought also now needs to be given as to how residents can feel more involved in the decision process. Extended use of social media channels seems to be an obvious further refinement

Still the report is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully the new arrangements will start in September after the Council’s August recess.

York Police roll out new property marking machines

dot-peen-chassis-component

Four new property marking machines will be in action across York from next week in a bid to deter thieves and protect property.

North Yorkshire Police

York Police have invested in the top-of-the-range “dot peen” property marking machines, and are offering the service free to residents.

Every year, police recover hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stolen property from the hands of criminals, but all too often there is no way of identifying its rightful owners. Being able to trace the ownership of the property not only helps people get the property back, but it can also provide evidence that is vital in securing convictions.

Dot peen marking involves using a tungsten carbide-tipped pin to indent an object with dots to create a visible, permanent unique number. The unique number will be entered onto the national Immobilise property register database, vastly increasing the chances that it will be reunited with its owner if it is lost or stolen.

The new machines in York can mark at a speed of two characters per second, to an accuracy of 0.006mm, and can be used on everything from steel and aluminium to plastic.

They have been funded by North Yorkshire Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, and Safer York Partnership.

While other methods of property marking, such as UV marker pens or forensically-coded liquid, can also be very effective in reuniting property with its rightful owners, the visual deterrent of a permanently marked serial number alone could be enough to deter would-be thieves.

Inspector Lee Pointon, of York Police, said: “York is a very safe city, but we do know that over the summer holidays burglars will be on the look-out for empty homes and unattended outbuildings containing valuable property.

“Marking your property is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from being a victim of crime. Criminals will see the permanent unique number, and know immediately that your property is too hot to handle. If the worst happened and you were targeted, marked property is far harder to sell on, and we are much more likely to be able to return it to you.”

Jane Mowat, Director of Safer York Partnership, said: “Safer York Partnership is pleased to support the purchase of additional Telesis property marking equipment as part of our ongoing work to tackle burglary. We cannot stress enough the importance of marking and registering property so that it can be returned to its rightful owner when stolen property is recovered by the police.”

Dot peen marking is suitable for everything from bikes and garden tools to PlayStations and laptop computers.

More than 80 York police officers, PCSOs and volunteer Special Constables are being trained to use the dot peen machines, and in the coming months residents will be invited to attend drop in sessions to get their property marked. Officers will also be working closely with City of York Council and local Neighbourhood Watch schemes to publicise the service.

For more information about property marking, visitwww.northyorkshire.police.uk/propertymarking. You can also install North Yorkshire Police’s free home security web app, BurglarProof, atburglarproof.nyp.mobi. And you can download our interactive home security iBook – just search for “Securing your home” on iTunes.

To find out when your next property marking event is taking place, follow your local York police team on Twitter at @snayorkcityeast,@snayorknorth or @snayorkwest. The service will be promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #whatisdotpeen

Hob Moor flats plan paused

Newbury Avenue garages

The new Council has suspended the letting of a contract to build on the garage site on Newbury Avenue.

The scheme, hatched by the last Labour administration, had been pushed through against strong opposition from residents who lived in the area. Most objectors had pointed to the lack of alternative car parking space on the estate and to problems with the road network (which is limited to a single entry route from Kingsway West).

The problems had been exacerbated by the Council’s decision to almost double the number of homes being built on the nearby Our Lady’s school site.

One idea, thrown out by Labour, had been a proposals that anyone affected by the new buildings, and who did not have an off-street parking space, would be offered a free dropped kerb/verge crossover.

The Council were asked to look at other sites including the derelict land to the rear of the Library on Front Street. A site which is very well located for the kind of amenities that the elderly occupants of the flats are likely to need.

 Local Councillor Dafydd Williams was blamed by many for the decision. He was forced to quit his Westfield seat in May and seek election in a ward located on the other side of the City.  The Councillor who claimed responsibility for the proposed development (Simpson-Laing from Acomb) lost her seat at the elections.

The project suspension will provide another opportunity for the issues surrounding this development to be reviewed.

NB Cllr Sue Hunter (Email cllr.shunter@ork.gov.uk) is making efforts to revive the local Residents Association. The last Association collapsed 2 years ago when most of is members resigned in protest against Labour’s controversial local development decisions.

Tadcaster Road bid to change offices into house

292 Tadcaster Road photoA Council committee will decide whether 292 Tadcaster Road will be converted from a telecoms HQ back into its original residential use.

Normally conversions of this sort would be welcomed but Council officials say that they are concerned about the  impact that the changes will have on the Conservation area.

The building overlooks the Racecourse.

292 Tadcaster Road

The planning application seeks permission for the change of use of 292 Tadcaster Road and includes a replacement two storey rear extension, an additional two storey side extension (following the removal of the existing fire escape and single storey extension), a garden room to the rear, a detached annex to the rear and replacement dormer windows to the front.

There have been no objections to the proposal

It is the appearance of the side extension that has led officers to recommend that the application be refused.

The area Planning Committee will make its decision on 9th July

Cycle track ‘missing link’ inches towards conclusion

 

 

Revival cycle track ends

 

On a recent visit to York College Ann, Stephen and Ashley raised the issue of the ‘missing link’ in the cycle track that will connect Tadcaster Road with the Green Lane.

The link currently comes to an abrupt halt at the bottom end of the Revival development, on the old College site.

Revival cycle track
  Environmental consultants have been commissioned to survey the area where a path would potentially go, as the area is an established newt habitat.  The outcome of the survey will determine which alignment the path will take and what time of year would be best for the construction to cause minimum disturbance to the wildlife.

Once there is clarity on the wildlife issues and best route, it should be possible to proceed with construction as the funding has already been secured.

The College has also confirmed that it expects the building work currently taking place on site to be completed in August.

York children urge to “shake up” fitness regime

Following the success of last year, City of York Council is again supporting the 10 Minute Shake Up campaign launched by Change4Life and Disney, to help encourage the city’s children to get active.

10 minute shake up

The 10 Minute Shake Up campaign uses a bit of Disney magic to inspire children to reach the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, with fun, manageable 10 minute bursts of exercise.

This year, 10 Minute Shake Up has lots of new and exciting 10 minute games and activities for children to play as part of four Disney teams: Big Hero 6, Frozen, Monsters and Toy Story. Children can help their chosen Disney team win by taking part in as many Shake Ups as they can each day throughout the summer. Every 10 minute burst of activity can make a real difference and helps towards children getting the 60 minutes they need each day.

Those who sign up for 10 Minute Shake Up will receive a free pack containing inspiration, ideas and tools to help children on their way to achieving their recommended 60 minutes of activity per day.  Packs include a fantastic team wristband* with timer, activity cards, a wild card for children to invent their own Shake Ups, a team poster and stickers.   

*while stocks last

Councillor Carol Runciman, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health said: “This is a fantastic initiative to encourage children and families to get active. Increased physical activity can lead to better academic achievement, with improved attention span, behaviour and self-confidence. I would encourage people across the city to sign up”.

City of York Council’s Acting Director of Health and Wellbeing, Julie Hotchkiss said: “In children physical activity is essential for mental and emotional health as well as physical health and a reduced risk of developing chronic conditions in the future.”
To sign up visit Change4Life and register for a free pack which is full of ideas for games and activities to keep your children active this summer.

SUCCESS – Street-level issues tackled in the Tadcaster Road area

In our recent FOCUS newsletter we reported back on some of the street-level issues that we had identified for action around the Tadcaster Road area. We can now provide a more comprehensive update on the status of some of these issues – see below.

There are many more issues that we are pursuing, and we will keep you updated via this website and of course FOCUS.

2nd July 1 2nd July 2 2nd July 3 2nd July 4

SUCCESS – Street-level issues tackled in the Chaloners / North Lane area

In our recent FOCUS newsletter we reported back on some of the street-level issues that we had identified for action around the Chaloners Road / North Lane area. We can now provide a more comprehensive update on the status of some of these issues – see below.

There are many more issues that we are pursuing, and we will keep you updated via this website and of course FOCUS.

1st july 1 July 1st 2 July 1st 3 July 1st 4