STREETLIGHTS NEED REPLACING NOW

Missing light in Middlethorpe

Councillor Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Neighbourhoods, has urged the City of York Council’s Labour Cabinet to bring forward plans to replace streetlights which had been cut down. The call comes with the news that the replacements are hoped to be in place by the end of the summer.

This means some residents will have gone nearly six months without streetlights before seeing any action.

The Council has only outlined the plans, and Councillor Reid says the lack of detail leaves too many questions from residents unanswered.

She said “At the time when Labour cut down the lampposts without a plan to replace them, Liberal Democrats called for action to be taken as soon as possible. Finally, a plan has emerged, but the lack of detail will leave residents in the dark for even longer.”

“Labour are implying that this is a new investment. In fact, the money is simply being taken from other areas in the Neighbourhoods budget. They are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. This means residents will see a decline in services elsewhere to pay for Labour’s mistake in cutting down the streetlights.”
Cllr Reid went on to attack the proposed system for prioritising action saying “The cabinet has said that individual wards will be ranked on a priority basis, but we don’t know what this system will be based on. I do hope that this system is made clear and transparent to the public. It needs to be based on hard evidence, not on which wards the Labour cabinet chooses to help first.”

“Streetlights are a vital service. They deter crime and help to keep our roads safe. For local people to be without them for such a long time is unacceptable. This is a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.”

Seeing the light?

With controversy still raging over Labours decision to remove 600 street lights from the City, questions now being asked about the costs and benefits of some of the replacement units.

One type being trialled extensively across the country is the LED light. The unit costs about £700 plus disconnection/reconnection charges. It has lower maintenance costs. The manufacturer’s claim it will last for 60,000 hours compared to the 18,000 hour life of the more common sodium unit.

It is more efficient using about 25% less electricity; which also means lower CO2 emissions.

It was these figures that led the former LibDem led Council to introduce a lighting modernisation programme which will pay for itself (through lower maintenance and energy costs) in less than 3 years.

However, such savings are put at risk if units like this one in Acomb are allowed to burn during the day time.

Long queues at bus stops as ftr is withdrawn from York

Long delays have been reported on the number 4 bus route following the withdrawal of the ftr bus.

The replacement double deckers are one man operated meaning that loading times have more than doubled. Long queues have formed at some bus stops. The situation in the evening rush hour is likely to be chaotic.

No proper provision for the disabled has been made, capacity for push chairs has been reduced and, of course, many elderly people are unable to access the upper floor of double deckers.

It signals the end of a progressive public transport policy in the City. If the council had persuaded First to provide modern replacement vehicles with smart card readers then the inevitable criticism of the backward leap might have been mitigated.

As it is, once again Dringhouses is bearing the brunt of Labours unnecessary cuts to local public services.

Be a SAVER and join Britain’s Biggest Climate Change Campaign – 12 to 18 March 2012

Climate Week is a supercharged national campaign to inspire action on climate change. It culminates in thousands of events and activities, planned by organisations from every part of society. Last year in York public talks, public events, school competitions and a big Climate Week marquee were just some of the great actions that went on to celebrate Climate Week.

As a city, York is committed to tackling climate change, and to significantly reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2020. In order to achieve this many projects are underway, however, we need everyone in York to play a role in helping to meet this target. Climate Week is a great way to get involved.

Get involved

You can help accelerate action on tackling climate change by getting involved. The week will see loads of fascinating, educational and fun events and activities to inspire you to take action – and show you how you can save money in the process! So take part in climate action and become a SAVER!

Cutting down carbon means cutting down cost

The really good thing is that most of the things we can do are both good for the planet and the pocket.

Taking just a few practical actions in your home, businesses or when you are travelling about York can help to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

For example, the average household can cut its annual fuel bills by up to £200 every year simply by using energy efficiently and effectively.

For more details on Climate Week please contact jacqueline.warren@york.gov.uk or telephone 01904 551666.

Council to replace missing lampposts “before the end of summer”.

As previously reported, the Council is taking £1 million from the road and footpath resurfacing budget to pay for the replacement of the lighting columns that were removed last year. The decision to fell nearly 600 lampposts, without making budget provision for the replacement, has been heavily criticised by residents.

Now it seems that a replacement programme will get underway in April although it is unclear whether the procedural difficulties, which often lead to a big delay in getting power reconnected, have been overcome.

For example, new lampposts were installed in part of Front Street 2 months ago but they are still not working.

The Council report talks of “testing and replacing” a proportion of concrete lampposts which are a feature of many residential estates. Thus it appears that the Council has learned its lesson and is returning to a phased programme of “test & modernise” which should mean that we are unlikely to see massive gaps in the lighting network appearing again.

In a media release, the Council claims that the replacement programme is the biggest since “Victorian times”, conveniently forgetting that the conversion of lighting columns from gas to electricity in the 1930’s a was a much bigger programme (although the major cost then was in cabling works as many of the gas columns were simply modernised to take the new power source)

The “spin” continues with a claim that “in order to preserve York’s unique character the Reinvigorate (sic) board will meet shortly to discuss and agree the best approach for the types and styles of streetlights to be used in the city centre and the other 34 conservation areas across the city. The lights in conservation area locations will be replaced within the scheduled time and are estimated to start in June or July”.

Given that the lampposts in the Acomb Front Street Conservation Area have already been installed, this may just be a piece of window dressing, although QUANGOs like these are notoriously insensitive to the cost pressures faced by taxpayers.

The Council should detail the costs of the different types of lamppost available and take into account the views of affected residents and businesses.

Save Beckfield Lane Recycling Centre petition passes 600 signatures

A total of 380 users have now signed the petition outside the Beckfield Lane recycling centre.

In addition, 118 have “signed” the electronic support form on the Councils web site (http://www.york.gov.uk/ have your say) while 125 have returned reply slips sent out with the Focus newsletter.

There will be another chance to sign the petition when volunteers will have forms available on Front Street on Wednesday (14th) from 11:00am

The petition will be handed in at the Council meeting on 29th March

Another blow for voluntary organisations in York

Local charities will have to pay £20 to rent a stall at the fairs organised by the Council this summer.

The fairs are held at Hob Moor, Rowntree, West Bank Park, Hull Road and Acomb Green and are a popular event attended by many local residents.

Although no fees for stall rentals were included when the Labour Cabinet agreed its charges for the forthcoming year last December, it now appears that the Councillor with responsibility for Leisure (Cllr Crisp) secretly agreed to levy the new charge. There is no record of this being considered at a Council Cabinet – or any other – meeting and none of the voluntary organisations affected were consulted.

Commercial organisations will be charged a fee of £40. In total around £4000 will be raised by the Council from the new charges.

About 100 different community groups will be affected by the decision together with about 35 commercial organisations.

Although not likely to have as serious an impact on the voluntary sector as the huge reductions in grant aid announced by the Council last month, the secrecy behind the move is yet another example of the widening gulf between the attitudes of some Labour Councillors and the views of the community as a whole.

Summer fair on The Green in Acomb

56% cut in highways maintenance hits Dringhouses hard

York Council complete highways maintenance programme 2012/13. Click to enlarge


The Council has now published a report which shows the scale of cuts to highways maintenance services.

Because it is a 2 year programme some promised resurfacing works will not be carried out until 2013/14. Cherry Lane in Dringhouses, Hempland Lane, St Oswald’s Rd and Peckitt St are some of the roads that will see the work postponed while the budget for Tranby Ave has been reduced from £150,000 to £100,000.

Meanwhile the money available safety works such as anti-skid surface and fencing has been cut by £20,000 and by £10,000 for cycle path maintenance. A total of £100,000 less will be spent on winter maintenance and £146,000 less on gulley cleaning and other drainage works.

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Communities and Neighbourhood said “We are now beginning to see the effect of Labour’s budget decisions and residents can expect to see a deterioration in roads and footpaths as maintenance budgets are reduced. Residents often tell us that the condition of footpaths and roads is a top priority for them but unfortunately Labour’s budget decisions will mean less money is spent on this basic service.”

Details of the 56% cut in highways maintenance. click to enlarge

Police say ‘belt up’

North Yorkshire Police has pledged its support to a European road safety campaign warning against the dangers of not wearing seatbelts.

The initiative which is being coordinated by the European traffic police network TISPOL runs for one week from Monday 12 March 2012 to Sunday 18 March 2012.

Officers will be carrying out checks on the county’s roads throughout the campaign to ensure that motorists and their passengers are belting up.

It is estimated that universal seatbelt use would save 6,000 lives and prevent 380,000 serious injuries a year across Europe.

Officers are urging drivers to support the campaign and take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers and other road users.

Traffic Constable Paul Moon, of North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Group, said:
“The benefits of wearing a seatbelt are well documented but unfortunately some people are still failing to wear them when they get behind the wheel .

“The simple fact is that wearing a seatbelt can save your life and I urge all road users to make the effort to use one and ensure that their passengers do the same.

“Over the next week officers will be stopping vehicles to ensure that the occupants are wearing seatbelts and if you aren’t it is likely that you will be fined.”

TISPOL is committed to reducing death, serious injury and crime on Europe’s roads. Its activities are guided by research, intelligence, information and experience, to produce measurable results that contribute to reducing casualties and making roads safer.

Vulnerable burglary victims receive partnership support

York West Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team have been working in conjunction with City of York Council and Safer York Partnership to provide support to elderly and vulnerable victims of burglary.

Following an increase in burglaries in the Acomb area of the city, a clear pattern emerged which identified elderly and vulnerable residents as the main targets. A scheme was set up whereby members of the local policing team visited residents in this area to offer crime prevention advice and reassurance. This was supported by the City of York Council handypersons scheme fitting security equipment funded by Safer York Partnership to secure vulnerable premises and make the properties less accessible to burglars. Equipment supplied through the scheme included internal alarms, security lights and window and door locks.

Sgt Iain Sirrell from the Safer Neighbourhood Team said “This initiative has not only ensured that these premises are now secure from future burglaries, it has also provided essential reassurance and peace of mind to the elderly residents in this area.”