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).