Now Labour stop skip visits to many Council estates

Skips scrapped

The Saturday morning skip visit may be a thing of the past for many York Council tenants.

Officials are understood to have cancelled the skips scheduled to visit the following estates/villages.

They claim that the reason for the cancellation is that there is no “active residents association” in the area.

However, that shouldn’t have prevented officials and Councillors from organising a ballot to find out how tenants wanted their share of the Estate Improvements Budget to be spent.

Many of the areas affected have a high proportion of elderly tenants who are least able to make alternative arrangements (and who, understandably, may not be able to participate in a “residents association”)

The matter was discussed at last nights Tenants Federation meeting.

We understand that all Council candidates are being asked to confirm that they will – if elected – intervene to get the skips restored.

The Liberal Democrats have already announced a widespread estate regeneration programme part of which will include improved waste collection and storage facilities.

The skips are regularly the most popular facility voted for by tenants in the annual ballot on how estate improvement monies should be spent.

There has been speculation that the Council also intend to stop altogether the programme of dropped kerbs/verge crossovers which, until 2011, was gradually reducing the numbers of vehicles parked on estate roads. The programme slowed when Labour took office, but there were hopes that the new Council – to be elected on 7th May – will take urgent action to address escalating parking problems on some streets

The news is the latest of a series of set backs for Council tenants in York. A few weeks ago the Council revealed that it had a surplus of £15 million on its housing account.

Many tenants blame Cllr Tracey Simpson Laing for the deteriorating condition of their neighbourhoods. She has been responsible for housing in York for the last 4 years.

Problems with dumping have gradually increased in west York since the Beckfield Lane recycling centre was closed in 2012.

Coupled with proposed reductions in grey bin emptying frequencies and charges for emptying green bins, the Council is in danger of creating “perfect storm” conditions for the sub-urban environment

Whatever happened to York’s salvage and re-use centre?

Well we know that it was one of the first cuts that Labour made when they took office in 2011.

Whatever happened to the salvage and re-use centre

The project was to have replaced the Beckfield Lane recycling centre but would have offered much more.

Its priority would have been to encourage the re-use of unwanted items. Currently only informal on-line groups like Freecycle address this need.

Only when the re-use option was exhausted would materials have been salvaged. For example, there is a ready market for building materials such as timber, bricks and hard-core.

Not only was the Beckfield Lane site closed but the replacement – which would Probably have been located at Harewood Whin – was also scrapped.

In part the decision contributed to the decline in recycling rates in the City and an inexorable rise in Landfill Tax costs.

The £2 million salvage centre would have paid for itself by now.

Sadly many residents resort to dumping items. One armchair has found its way onto a verge on Gale Lane today. Although some of these items are picked up by “rag and bone” men, many have to be removed by the Council.

Dumped mattresses are a particular problem for those lacking transport to get to the remaining 2 civic tips.

The York Council now charges £40 to remove up to 10 bulky waste items

Small wonder that so many residents are petitioning their objections to reduced waste collection frequencies and the prospect of a £35/£37 pa charge for emptying green garden waste bins.

“Save our bins” petition hits 1000 signatures

Call for Council to release results of resident’s opinion poll

Labour and Green Councillors voted through a Council budget for this year which includes a big reduction in waste collection costs.

Waste collection update 12th April 2015

Only two options for cost reduction were offered to residents in a survey undertaken earlier in the year.

  • Reduced grey bin emptying frequencies &
  • £35/£37 pa charge for emptying (all) green (garden waste) bins.

We said at the time that the survey was deeply flawed.

Now the Council has now said that it won’t reveal the results of its survey until after the Council elections on May 7th.

Labour’s charging plans were leaked last autumn. Not surprisingly neither they or the Green have been candid about the plans in the election manifestos that are currently being circulated

Copies of the petition for can be downloaded from here

Bins petition – 500 sign in one week as residents face 57% increase on tipping charges

Council let slip £37 a year “tax” on Green Bins to start mid summer

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Over 500 residents have signed our petition opposing Labour plans to reduce bin emptying frequencies and impose an annual charge of £35 or £37 for emptying green, garden waste, bins.

The on line version of the edition is now suspended until after the election but copies of the petition form can be downloaded by clicking here

At a recent Council meeting in response to a question the responsible Cabinet member said,

“Officers from waste services, IT and customer services are working to determine a time frame in which chargeable Green waste collections could be implemented should the Council choose to proceed. It is anticipated that sufficient evidence will be available in the summer of 2015 for the Council to consider this matter”

 Labour Councillors fear that many residents will avoid the new charge by putting green waste into grey – residual waste – bins.

Hence the – still secret – move to reduce bin emptying frequencies to once evry 3 or 4 weeks.

Like the proposals to close Lendal Bridge 4 years ago, it is unlikely that Labour will publicise their plans for the future of waste collection in the city until after then Local Elections on May 7th.

Landfill Tax charges up by 57% in 5 years as York Council recycling effort fades

Meanwhile the Council has admitted that recycling rates have been falling in the City. Landfill Tax charges – paid by residents through their Council Tax bills – have increased.

Landfill Tax payments click to enalrge

Landfill Tax payments click to enalrge

Landfill Tax increased by £8 per tonne annually until 2014/15 and by inflation thereafter having reached £80 per tonne.

Council set to resist autumn green bin emptying.

The Council is set to stick with its decision to end green bin emptying in October each year.

The service now starts again in April.

Green bin 2

A Council report claims that most residents either store up their green waste in winter or take it to one of York’s two civic amenity recycling centres.

The report does not say how much waste was collected in the additional collection arranged in January of this year.

The Council accepts though that some garden waste found its way into grey bins, adding to the Landfill Tax burden that must be funded by Council Taxpayers.

“Save our bins” petition launched

Residents have launched a petition calling on the York Council to reverse its proposal to reduce refuse bin collection frequencies and scrap the £35 green bin emptying charge.

click to download

click to download

The petition also asks the Council to abandon its plan – agreed at its budget meeting on 26th February – to introduce a £35 a year charge for emptying green bins. The charge has been heavily criticised as a new “stealth” tax – the equivalent of a 4% increase in Council Tax levels for most residents.

The Labour run authority introduced a £35 fee for emptying second, and subsequent, green bins last year.

The new tax will apply to all green bins and will hit the least well off hardest (as the charge will not be offset by increased benefit payments).

Residents fear that the charge will lead to more hedgerow dumping.

The risk will be increased by the move to 3 or 4 weekly grey bin emptying.

Dumping has already become an increasing problem on the west of the City since Labour’s controversial decision to close the civic amenity recycling centre on Beckfield Lane a couple of years ago.

Dringhouses Councillor Ann Reid is backing the petition.

“Many public service cuts are being hidden from residents by dubbing them part of a “rewiring” exercise.

This title means nothing to most people.

A consultation in February was a shambles with leaflets advertising activities being delivered after the event had finished.  A bogus list of choices failed to specifically ask for resident’s views on bin charging and reduced emptying frequencies.

Residents need to make their views known now.

A new Council will be elected on May 7th. It will have an early opportunity  to reverse the damaging decisions that have been taken over recent weeks”

The petition also asks the Council to provide more litter bins and to give a higher priority to keeping highways and hedgerows free from litter and dumped items.

A copy of the petition can be down loaded by clicking here

The petition can be signed “on line” here

Street drinking and green waste collection petitions to be considered by Council

The Council has announced the dates on which two petitions from residents will be considered.

A petition asking for action to control street drinking in The Groves area is slated for consideration on  17th March

A petition opposing the reduction on winter green bin emptying frequencies will be considered on 18th March

Meanwhile opposition to Labour’s plans to reduce grey bin emptying frequencies to 3 or 4 weekly is growing.

Many residents have also emailed us to say that they fear that the £35 a year charge that Labour have agreed for emptying any green bin, will lead to more hedgerow dumping.

 

Labour/Greens implementing £35 a year bin emptying tax

Liberal Democrats have criticised Green Councillors for backing proposals which will see residents charged £35 a year for all garden waste collections.

Cllr Ann Reid and local LibDem candidate Stephen Fenton with green waste

Cllr Ann Reid and local LibDem candidate Stephen Fenton with green waste

As previously reported, Green Party councillors last week supported the ruling Labour Group’s Budget along with former Conservative Cllr Joe Watt. The plans will see a charge introduced for all green bin collections alongside increased car parking rates and cuts to community centres, road repairs and street cleaning.

In 2013, Labour was forced to abandon plans to charge for all green bin collections after 1,700 residents signed a Lib Dem petition and concerns were raised that a blanket charge would see recycling rates tumble.

However, Labour did force through a cut to winter collections and introduced a £35 charge for residents with more than one green bin.

This new charge is the equivalent of a 4% increase in Council Tax for most residents 

The new plans, part of the council’s ‘Re-wiring’ project, will now see a charge for all garden waste collections in 2015/16 with officers recommending a flat £35 fee per bin.

Plans to reduce the frequency of grey bin collections will also be considered as part of the proposals.

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environmental Services, commented:

“It is hugely disappointing that Green councillors supported Labour’s Budget. This decision means further cuts to frontline services, increased fees for car parking and a new charge for all green bin collections.

“Under Labour recycling rates have already fallen and Landfill Tax bills increased to £3.7 million. Making residents pay £35 to recycle their garden waste will do further damage.

“Liberal Democrats worked with residents to defeat these plans in 2013, but Green councillors have now paved the way for a new Green Bin Tax in York as well as the option to reduce grey bin collections.

“The Lib Dem budget proposal was the only one which scrapped these plans. It would also have returned winter green bin collections and increased investment to boost recycling rates.

“The Labour-Green union, which last year blocked a review into the Lendal Bridge trial, has now passed a budget which will see cuts to services and reckless borrowing continue on projects such as the £9million Guildhall Media Hub.

“While I am pleased that Castlegate has been given a short-term reprieve and there is some hope for Yearsley Pool, the Labour-Green budget includes damaging cuts to community centres, road repairs and street cleaning as well as this new Green Bin charge.”

Details of the Green Bin proposals are included in the council’s plans for ‘Place Based Services’ – click here to access a copy

“It’s almost as if they didn’t want us to know”

Council delivers notification leaflet after meeting has taken place

Following on from our story yesterday, the Council has started to issue a survey form to residents asking for their views on cutting public services (aka “rewiring”).

Most residents have yet to receive the leaflet which advertises a “drop in” taking pace at the Acomb Library on …err yesterday. (There are other “drop in” dates next week)

Labour rewiring proposals

No attempt was made by the Council to publicise yesterday’s event. No media release was issued. The Consultation is not listed on the Council web site and cannot be downloaded from there. (Although we have provided a link HERE to a copy on “dropbox”)

The Council has for some reason set up a separate, impenetrable, web site containing what it describes as background information http://rewiringyork.com/ . Most residents won’t, of course,  know it even exists.  There is no link shown from the Council web site.

Waste collection "survey"

Waste collection “survey”

The rewiring blog makes much of the Council’s new (under development) web site – but fails to acknowledge the leap backwards on communications that has taken place over the last 12 months (the facility to report issues like broken street lights and potholes using the internet was withdrawn by the present administration – increasing pressure on an already overburdened “contact centre”)

The content of the leaflet is risible.

It says that residents can see a copy of the “business case” for change on the blog site. No such business case is visible.

The leaflet says “the proposed changes will have an effect on the frequency, accessibility and cost of services such as waste collection and STREET CLEANSING”. It talks of changes to “roads

The leaflet fails to say how much green bin emptying will cost a resident under Labour’s plans and doesn’t’ even mention “street cleansing” or “roads” again.

 The leaflet makes the bold statement that the Council “needs” to save £2.5 million from “this service area” They mean street level public services but don’t define them or mention current standards.

The statement is in any event untrue.

The Council can make savings in other areas. Many capital investment plans (new access bridge into the station land, new Scarborough footbridge, turning the Guildhall into a media centre etc) could be shelved with annual savings on borrowing costs equivalent to the amount being cut from essential street services.

£9.32 million on Guildhall media centre

£9.32 million on Guildhall media centre

It’s not all bad. Investment in LED lights may well save energy and running costs, and MAY prove to be more reliable and durable that the exiting street lighting systems. But there is no information provided which allows residents to make an informed judgement on that claim.

Included is a very limited prioritisation list. It muddles service improvement (collecting kitchen waste) with service reductions (charging for all green bin emptying & reducing the frequency of grey bin emptying to monthly).

The costs and implications of the latter two “options” are not explained.

So what does it really mean?

Labour are seeking endorsement for their plans to:

  1. Reduce the investment in road and footpath repairs
  2. Reduce the number of sub-urban litter bins
  3. Sweep streets less frequently
  4. Reduce grey bin emptying to once a month
  5. Make an annual charge to everyone who has a green bin
  6. Get local “volunteers” to “manage” parks and open spaces.

Should I respond to the survey?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Silence may be pronounced as contentment with the changes planned by “rewiring” supporters.

On the other hand, prioritising a very limited number of options could be used as a justification for an unpopular change to waste collection arrangements (just about the only Council service that every resident uses).

The survey can’t be answered “on line” so freepost returns will cost taxpayers over 40p each, putting more pressure on public service standards.

What we’d do

Send an Email with your views to rewiringyork@york.gov.uk.

Say that the Council should abandon other, less essential, projects to make savings.

Say that core street level public service standards should be sustained.

Tell the Council to make future consultations timely, fairer giving full information on costs, provide a wider range of options and offer an “on line” response option.

Green bin emptying next week

last year for an additional November collection. The then Labour-run Council Group refused this request.

Ann and Stephen green bins

After Labour lost their majority on the Council last October, the Lib Dem Council Leader sent a joint letter from Opposition Councillors repeating the request for an extra green bin collection. While it was too late to organise this for November, all households with garden waste collections will get one additional collection in January 2015.

The collections will be in the weeks starting 19 and 26 January 2015.

Collections are on your usual recycling collection day.

If you still have Christmas trees to dispose of these can be chopped up and put in your green bin.

Thank you for continuing to use the recycling facilities we set up when we ran the Council. Liberal Democrats are committed to getting back to the recycling rates we achieved then.

Sadly these rates have declined in the last 3 years.