Garden waste collection may be scrapped
One service that every resident uses one way or another is refuse collection. The Council plans to cut expenditure on this service by £750,000 over the next 12 months with further reductions in later years.
So how will it affect residents?
Here is the top 10 list of implications
1. Charges will be made for replacement recycling boxes and bins & provision of black sacks.
2. Either charging for green bin emptying or scrapping green bin collection altogether.
3. Changes to bin emptying days. Grey bins may be on (say) a Monday and recycling on a Wednesday
4. Privatisation of refuse collection in 2013
5. Closing Beckfield Lane recycling centre after Easter.
6. Plans for a salvage and re-use centre axed
7. Number of litter and “poop scoop” bins being reduced by 20%
8. Fewer “barrowmen” will be picking up litter
9. Reduce waste minimisation advice
10. Charges for use of recycling centres for items like brick rubble
Labour are planning a 2.9% increase in Council Tax levels from April 2012 plus another similar increase from April 2013.
The Coalition government have offered the City a one year £1.8 million subsidy which would delay any rise until 2013 (at which point an increase of up to 5% would be likely).
The 1 year subsidy would mean that residents would be about £36 better off during the next 12 months.
Both options involve some reductions in public service quality standards.
Increases in tax levels above 3.5% pa can only be implemented if approved through a residents referendum.
What should the Council do? (see survey right)
Category 3 roads and footpaths in Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Ward. Double click to enlarge
Each year professional officers at the Council assess the safety and condition of footpaths and roads in the City.
They categorise each, with poor surfaces which require resurfacing being given a “3” score.
The Council then resurface the roads as far as the available budget allows.
The worst are done first.
The recently announced £2.6 million reduction in the highways maintenance budget (56%) means that these roads are now unlikely to be resurfaced in the foreseeable future.
Not only is the resurfacing budget being cut but also the provision for temporary repairs (basically pothole filling) is also being reduced.
The effect of these decisions on road safety is likely to be extreme with pedestrians, cyclists and other two wheel users particularly vulnerable.
Potholes that are not treated promptly are more vulnerable to frost damage. This means that a cycle of disrepair will quickly reduce the quality and safety of our roads and footpaths.
It is a very short-sighted plan which will cost taxpayers more in the long term.
The Dean and Chapter of York today launched details regarding the public ticket ballot for the Royal Maundy Service on 5th April at York Minster at 11 am.
The Very Reverend Keith Jones, Dean of York said, “We at York Minster are thrilled that The Queen has decided to distribute the Royal Maundy at York Minster in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Year. It is our hope to enable as many members of the public as possible to be in inside the Minster during the service for this Royal and beautiful ceremony.”
The ballot process is open to all members of the public who reside within the Diocese of York. The tickets are free of charge. The guidelines for residents making a request are:
•One application per household for up to two tickets.
•Applications must be made in writing, stating the name(s) of those to be entered into the ballot.
•Tickets are named and non-transferable.
•Two forms of identification will be required to enter the Service, one of which must be photographic.
•Those attending should come with the minimum of baggage to speed security checks.
Requests should be made in writing to the Very Revd Keith Jones, Dean of York, Church House, Ogleforth, York, YO1 7JN, enclosing a C5 stamped addressed envelope with the word BALLOT written on the reverse. If an SAE is not enclosed the application will not be entered into the draw.
Due to the layout of seats for the service, not all balloted seats can be guaranteed to have a view of the Royal party.
All applications must be received by 5pm on Friday 24th February 2012 for consideration. The draw will take place on Wednesday 29th February and successful applicants will receive their tickets by post. Those attending will be required to be in their allocated places by 10 am.
Labour’s claims to be a party of economic responsibility have been undermined, with an announcement to increase borrowing by £20 million in their upcoming budget. Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Firth has questioned whether this gamble which exposes York’s residents to substantial risk and expense is appropriate at this time.
Only just over a year ago Cllr Alexander was expressing his grave concern that the council’s debt had reached £116 million spuriously quoting similarities with the national debt of Greenland. Now with the stroke of a pen he hopes to add a further 17% increase on that debt. At the same time the proposed budget would impose a substantial increase in council tax of 2.9%, to go towards paying off the debt generated by the irresponsible borrowing, while at the same time reducing services imposing redundancies and cutting funding to voluntary groups.
Paul Firth, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Corporate Services, commented saying “After criticising the City of York’s debt whilst in opposition, James Alexander seems happy to add massive increases to it now that he’s in power. Reckless borrowing from the last Labour government has brought the country to its knees and now he seems intent on bringing the same misery to York. He must learn that in challenging times the answer is not to pile onto a city’s debt whilst simultaneously hiking the taxes of those that live there”.
“It is highly questionable if this borrowing will provide the returns to the council that Labour seem to hope it will, and in the mean time York’s debt will continue to grow. This is a substantial amount of borrowing that we’re dealing with, and it seems that the move is being made without a clear plan about how that will translate into economic benefit for the city”.
Double click to enlarge
We today begin to take a detailed look at how some of the planned Council cutbacks will affect the residents of York.
The voluntary sector in the city has played an important role in the City’s life long before David Cameron invented the “Big Society” phrase.
During the current year the Council is supporting the sector to the tune of £3.2 million. Much of this goes to large organisations like the Museums Trust (which is set to get a £300,000 cut to the £1.3 million that it currently gets for running the City’s Museums and Art Gallery).
However it is the smaller neighbourhood organisations, some of which relay on Ward committee support, which face the biggest cuts.
The Ward committee budget is being cut from £646,000 to £224,000, meaning that pro rata cuts would see voluntary bodies lose more than half their income.
We believe that it is wrong to do so to fund vanity projects like “free” city centre WiFi access.
York’s Liberal Democrat Member on the North Yorkshire Fire Authority has welcomed the decision made by the authority to freeze the precept (the amount residents pay for fire services) for 2012/13 using a £600,000 grant from the coalition government.
Councillor Keith Aspden said this decision showed that the suggestions made by Labour-run City of York Council that it wouldn’t be financially viable to freeze local taxes for York’s residents to do so were politically motivated.
The fire precept plans were voted through the Fire Authority unanimously today, by councillors from all parties, including Labour.
Labour-run York, in outlining their budget plans last week, said they weren’t able to take the grant and instead would pass additional costs on to residents. They argued this was because the government couldn’t guarantee the funding for the grant would continue next year.
North Yorkshire Fire Authority has avoided this issue by planning to save some of the grant this year in case the money isn’t available next year, together with continuing to save money over a number of years on back office functions.
Councillor Aspden said “The decision by North Yorkshire Fire Authority shows that additional costs for services do not need to be passed on to residents when the Government is offering funding. The decision to sensibly keep money back in reserve alongside back office savings will protect against the loss of the grant next year makes sense.”
Councillor Aspden said that this future planning showed how the grant could be used to avoid passing on costs to residents without affecting the future financial stability of the authority, something that York’s Labour Cabinet are unwilling to accept.
He said “It just goes to show that Labour in York are playing party politics when they say it would be financially reckless of them to take the grant. They could have elected to make contingency plans to avoid a tax increase in these tough times, but instead chose to pass this on to local residents.”
Highways maintenance expenditure - double click to enlarge
Ward committee budgets - click to enlarge
Sad, but not surprising, to see the Labour spin machine at work in The Press. Some of the figures quoted in articles about the Council budget are just plain wrong.
Highways maintence expenditure is reducing by a massive 56%. The effect on the safety of our roads and footpaths will be dramatic
Similarly Ward Committee expenditure – on projects like security patrols, CCTV and improved parking arrangements and which have been prioritised by York Residents – will be reduced by an unprecidented 65%.
Click the calculations right – which have been verified by the Councils professional officers – for details.
The savings are not being used to help the less well off.
They will fund the interest payments on vanity projects like the £20 million borrowing on a “re-energise York” programme as well as the Council Leaders personal £1 million pa “delivery and imnnovation” slush fund.
North Yorkshire Police will be carrying out mobile safety camera enforcement on the following roads between Wednesday 8 February and Tuesday 14 February 2012.
•A64 west-bound carriageway, Bowbridge Farm, Tadcaster
•A19 Selby Road, Whitley
•Brayton Lane, Brayton, Selby
•Barff Lane, Brayton, Selby Westcroft Lane, Hambleton
•A19 Selby Road, Whitley
•Millfield Lane, Chappel Haddlesley
•Northfield Farm, Cobcroft Lane, Cridling Stubbs
•Skipwith Road, Escrick
•Church Lane, Wheldrake
•A64 Seamer by-pass Scarborough
•B1249 Staxton Wold, Staxton, Scarborough
•B1249 Foxholes to county boundary
•A1039 Filey Road at Flixton
•A165 Reighton by-pass
•A64 Seamer Road, Scarborough
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.
Double click to enlarge
The Council are scrapping the public decision sessions at which Cabinet/Executive members considered policy changes in their departments. The meetings heard representations from other Councillors, interest groups and residents.
They were open to the Press.
Now the Councils Audit and Governance committee is to consider a proposal which would see such decisions taken “informally” behind closed doors with no opportunity for residents to influence what was discussed.
The decision sessions include those that decide traffic management and parking restriction changes. Detailed road layout plans and subsidised bus service arrangements also came to the sessions.
Until recently the decisions were subject to an open debate in what were known as Executive Member Advisory Panels, but these were abolished by Labour.
Now it seems that the first that residents will find out about decisions is when they see work starting in the street.
A similar plan would see the requirement for senior officers to keep a public record of their decisions also abolished.