Acomb Wood: Welly workout

We will be having a general tidy up of the woodland. We will be cutting back some trees, litter picking and any other little jobs that need completing this spring before everything starts growing again.

Mon 5 Mar, 1pm to 3pm at Acomb Wood

Cost: FREE!

For more information and to book you space please contact Jenny Cairns on 07833 436832 or jennifer.cairns@york.gov.uk. Please come prepared to get muddy. All tools will be provided.

Blossom Street roadworks start on 5th March

The Second phase of work is due to start next month (week commencing 5 March).

Significant work was carried out on Blossom Street at its junction with Queen Street, close to Micklegate Bar during phase I in September 2010. Phase II is due to start shortly and will focus on Blossom Street and Holgate Road and their junctions with The Mount and East Mount Road.

The main features of the work will include:
• Full replacement of old traffic signals with new modern equipment.
• Partial resurfacing of the carriageway
• Pedestrian crossings to be widened and modernised, incorporating on-crossing detection.
• Widening of the footway on the corner of Holgate Road.
• Inbound and outbound cycle feeder-lanes on Blossom Street.
• Inbound cycle lane on Holgate Road starting at Dalton Terrace.
• Inbound bus stop outside the Reel Cinema to be extended and the shelters and cycle parking repositioned.
• A new bus shelter introduced at the outbound bus stop (for bus numbers 3 and 4).
• New stop-line and signals (inbound only) on Holgate Road near to Holgate Villas to keep queuing traffic out of, and ameliorate the air quality in the bottle-neck at the end, but which will not affect traffic capacity.
• No change to number of traffic lanes.

Full details of the planned improvements are available at www.york.gov.uk/council/consultations/current/blossomst/

Labour confirm Council Tax increase in York

Labour have gone ahead with their threat to increase Council Tax rates by 2.9%. A further rise of over 2% is forecast for April 2013. They turned down the offer of a £1.8 million subsidy from the government to freeze tax levels

We know that many residents still don’t fully appreciate what is going to hit them over the next few weeks and months. Our guess is that anger will grow as the following sequence of events take place:

• February: Acomb Council branch office closes

• March: Higher Council Tax bill arrives. Many find that they will have to pay over £30 a year more.

• April: Car parking charges up 18% for residents. ResPark charges up. Issue of refuse collection sacks in terraced areas stops. Beckfield Lane recycling centre closes. Number 4 ftr bus services axed. Disabled people attending specialised work placements told that they may be transferred to the private sector. Unemployment increases as organisations like Future Prospects are forced to reduce their activities.

• May: Potholes in roads and footpaths are still unfilled following winter damage. Only a handful of roads are put on resurfacing list. Elderly seeking Council help with home care are told that the bar has been raised. Council will now only act if their needs are judged to be “substantial”. Around 200 elderly people lose existing home care service. However the Council finds money to provide “free” WiFi in City Centre.

• June: Complaints about stray dogs and footpath fouling increase following a reduction in dog warden numbers. Residents expecting more CCTV, security improvements, car parking lay-bys etc, told that Ward Committee funding averages less than £10,000 per ward. 20% of litter and “poop scoop” bins removed.

• Summer: Reduced spending, on crime prevention, results in more burglaries and vandalism. Enforcement of alcohol sales to minors scaled back. More anti social behaviour evident. Voluntary bodies and charities struggle with reduced grants. Some flounder. Litter on streets increases following a reduction in street sweeping. New refuse collection rounds bring chaos. Collection is on different days each fortnight. Cuts to parks and open spaces budget means York fails in “Britain in Bloom” contest. Fly tipping up since Beckfield Lane centre closed.

• Autumn: Number of cyclists involved in accidents increases. The Council faces increased insurance claims from pedestrians who have fallen on uneven footpaths. Enforcement of under age sales of fireworks is scaled back. It is a noisy October. Gulleys haven’t been cleaned for at least 6 months. Heavy rain brings flooding to several streets.

• Winter: The number of streets gritted is reduced. Salt bins, left out all year, are found to have been vandalised. Those remaining are filled only 3 times before the budget runs out. Salvation Army forced to reduce services for “rough sleepers” as grant runs out. Street environment budget also used up. No money available to deal with damage to verges, graffiti and dumping.

• Spring 2013: Charities, sports clubs, scouts and charities told that they will lose their discretionary rate relief. Parish Councils told that provision to avoid “double taxation” is being discontinued. Green bin garden waste collection stopped. Residents told to compost waste in garden. Privatisation of waste collection announced.

York’s debt per head is at an all time high. Opposition Councillors point out that it is now the equivalent of the external debt of Fiji (and twice that of Greenland).

Partners In Crime Thursday 8 March, 7pm – 8.30pm at Dringhouses Library

An evening with mother and daughter crime novelists Pauline Kirk and Jo Summers, who write as PJ Quinn.

Pauline and Jo will read from ‘Foul Play’ and forthcoming novel ‘Poison Pen’, and give tips on getting published. There will be a question and answer session at the end.

To book your free place contact Dringhouses Library on tel. (01904) 552674 or email dringhouses.library@york.gov.uk

Dusty bin makes a come back

The Council is likely today to decide to reduce the number of litter bins on our streets by about 20%.

At the same time it has announced that it will follow the lead of other Councils in introducing a new design of “intelligent” litter bin. The bins use solar power to “compact” waste and are capable of sending an “empty me” Email when they are full.

The Council is right to trial technology like this.

However, they are talking of putting them in the City centre and removing 5 of the old style bins at the same time. This they think will reduce both emptying costs and the street clutter which some find intrusive in the historic core.

There is a limit to how far some people will walk to use a litter bin and a well dispersed network of bins is the best way of ensuring that street litter does not ruin the environment.

The decision to reduce the amount of litter picking by barrowmen in residential areas is another example of short sighted thinking.

Whether the Council will adopt the type of bin which segregates recyclable waste (bottles, cans, papers etc) remains to be seen. The 3 bin suite is larger than anything we have had in the city before but Labour were insistent that we should offer the recycling option when they were in opposition, so we will have to wait and see whether they are consistent now that they are making the decisions.

The key question though for “dusty bin” is whether it proves to be reliable and whether the extra costs can be justified.

Mobile safety (speed) camera routes 22 – 28 February 2012

North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following roads between Wednesday 22 and Tuesday 28 February 2012.

Those being checked in the York area include:

•A64 east-bound carriageway Bowbridge Farm Tadcaster
•A64 west-bound carriageway, Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•Millfield Lane, Poppleton, York
•Beckfield Lane, York
•Green lane, Acomb, York
•Ryecroft Avenue, Woodthorpe, York
•Temple Lane, Copmanthorpe, York
•A1036 Tadcaster Road, York
•A1237 Monks Cross, York
•Strensall Road, Huntington, York
•The Village, Stockton-on-the-Forest, York
•A1036 Malton Road, York
•A171 Jugger Howe opposite Springhill Farm

The mobile safety cameras will be in operation at the above sites at various times during the dates stated. Cameras will not be in use on the above routes all day, every day.

64% back Council Tax Freeze

64% of residents, responding to a Liberal Democrat Focus survey, have backed a proposal to freeze Council Tax levels in the City for a further year.

The survey was carried out in the Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Ward together with parts of Westfield, Acomb and Micklegate.

The option is being considered on Thursday and is expected to get the backing of both Liberal Democrat and Conservative Councillors.

The option is available as the Coalition government has offered a £1.8 million subsidy to the city if it keeps tax levels down.

Labour are proposing a 2.9% increase with a minimum 2% more to come the following year. This option drew the support of only 14% of respondents.

A third option – to hold a referendum to see whether residents would support an increase of over 3.5% – won the support of 22% of respondents.

LIB DEM PLANS WOULD REVERSE £2M IN CUTS

Liberal Democrat Councillors have announced their plans to amend the ruling Labour Cabinet’s budget plans at the Budget council Meeting on Thursday 23rd Feb. The plans would see over £2m of the cuts Labour have planned for frontline services reversed, paid for by cutting the Labour leader’s planned £1m ‘Delivery and Innovation Fund’ and reducing council borrowing.

Just some of the plans included in the Liberal Democrat Amendment are:
– Reversing Labour’s planned cuts to voluntary sector organisations (including York CVS and the Salvation Army)
– Reversing Labour’s £50,000 cuts to Youth Services
– Cutting the planned £1m ‘Delivery and Innovation’ fund
– Introducing living wage of £6.83ph for council workers
– Freezing council tax
– Reversing £895k of road maintenance cuts
– Reducing borrowing by £1.5m this year (which saves £135k in interest payments this year alone)
– Reversing local Ward Committee funding cuts
– Cutting two cabinet members
– Reversing cuts to the target hardening fund to combats anti-social behaviour
– Keeping Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre open

Councillor Carol Runciman, who is proposing the amendment, said “Our amendment would make the proposed budget fairer for York’s residents, in particular the most vulnerable.”
“We think that local council services are more important that a fund for the Council Leader to spend at will. That’s why we are planning to cut the ‘Delivery and Innovation’ fund and put the £1m back into frontline services for residents. Our plans would see funding restored for projects that benefit residents all over the city.”

She added: “I very much hope that backing from all parties can be found for reversing cuts to vital services and support for the most vulnerable in our city.”

Mayfield Pond and Meadow

The problems surrounding this area of public open space look as if they might be nearing some kind of resolution at last. The recent Ward Committee heard from Council Officers about the recent history of the site and the action that is being taken to finally resolve the issues.

As previously reported in Focus, Taylor Wimpey have carried out remedial works, particularly to the trees and have made it clear to the interested parties that sale of the small area of land at the rear of Hob Moor Terrace needs to be rescinded so that it can all be included in the public open space. The aim is for the land to be transferred to the Council who will lease it to an appropriate organisation to manage.

A report is due to go to the Cabinet Member for City Strategy at the beginning of March which will outline how it is proposed to achieve those aims.

The Chase Resident Association gave a presentation about the consultation work they are undertaking to establish the kind of uses that are made of the area now and what kind of things people would like to see happening in the future.