Help play a vital role in preserving York’s orchards

 A new citywide project which hopes to encourage more communities to play a vital role in finding and preserving orchards in York through a new York Heritage Orchard Group has launched.


Traditional orchards are wildlife havens which contain elements of woodland, pasture and meadow grassland, and are often bordered by native hedgerows.

They are recognised as representing ‘biodiversity hotspots’ and have been identified as priority habitats through both the national and local Biodiversity Action Plans.

However, statistics from the national charity Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has found that around 90 per cent of these habitats have been lost since the 1950s.

In order to help halt this decline and to protect these important habitats, City of York Council is inviting individuals and communities to get in touch if they own or care for an orchard, which they believe may be of heritage interest to help get this new group off the ground.

York talk on climate change ahead of United Nations conference

For_the_love_of_yorkshireExperts in the field of sustainability and climate change are inviting community groups to join them at one of several events being held across the region to talk about tackling climate change.

The special event takes place at City of York Council’s West Offices (Snow Room) from 12noon on Thursday 3 December.

The engagement session focuses on the new ‘For the Love of Yorkshire’ climate campaign and also the benefits of tackling climate change for cities and regions.

This session takes place during the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference on 30 November to 11 December, which is recognised as being one of the most important international efforts in recent years. The’ For the Love of Yorkshire’ campaign will also be taking climate messages from York to the European conference.

“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

Hob Moor nature reserve at risk

Farmer forced to remove cattle from nature reserve

Work is taking place on Hob Moor to install a new drain. The system will serve the new development on the former Our Lady’s school site.

It is understood that the work has forced a farmer to remove his cattle from the moor.

The development has always been unpopular with many as it was almost twice the size originally envisaged.

In addition the impact on traffic in the area is expected to be significant with many fearing that lack of parking space could cripple the estate. Already narrow roads like Ashford Place and Ascot Way are bearing the brunt of noise and vibration. from construction traffic.

However concerns about the Hob Moor nature reserve have been ignored by the Labour dominated planning committee when the developer has come back with several requests for modifications to their plans.

We understand that concerns have been raised with English Nature

Inadequate drainage in the area was one concern which led to a significant change to the site height about a month ago

Dramatic fall in numbers fined for littering offences in York

Litter Esplanade car park river bank near Scarborough Bridge

Despite growing concerns about the amount of litter on our streets, the York Council has scaled back by nearly 95% the number of penalty notices issued for littering.

In 2013/14 only 16 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued compared to 216 in the previous year.

The number of people fined more than £100 has also dropped from the 2012/13 high when 18 prosecutions resulted in fines totally £1700.

£280 in victim surcharges were also received together with £4100 in court costs.

The Council has been criticised for the double environmental “whammy” of reducing the number of litter bins in the City while all but abandoning enforcement of anti littering legislation.


York backs Great Litter Count

City of York Council is getting behind Keep Britain Tidy’s annual Great Litter Count, to find out which brands are the most littered.

Residents are asked to get involved with the charity’s survey to count the types and brands of litter that blight communities across the country. Keep Britain Tidy can then work with those companies whose brands are littered the most to reduce the waste left by their customers.


City centre paving consultation

The York Council is delivering a leaflet to all households outlining its plans for resurfacing works in the City centre.

Exhibition Square plans

Exhibition Square plans

They are right to do so but, in pointing to improvements planned for Exhibition Square, Blake Street and Fossgate, they lamentably fail to answer the question that will be on every taxpayer’s lips.

How much will these paving schemes cost?

There is little new in the leaflet.  The Labour Council changed the Council’s forward programme in 2011 putting the modernisation of Kings Square ahead of the Fossgate pedestrianisation scheme which had been set to go ahead in 2012.

Next in line were to have been improvements to Duncombe Place, which could have provided a large and useful pedestrian precinct.

But the Councils increasing financial problems meant that progress would inevitably have slowed.

Residents might usefully have been asked when completing the “on line” survey whether they want any of these schemes to go ahead or whether the money might be better spent repairing the roads in sub-urban areas?

The danger in the Councils approach is that the improvement of the City centre may become politically toxic.

Against a background of plans for a further £1 million cut in road maintenance in sub-urban areas, residents are likely to demand of Council candidates – at the next local elections in 2015 – a commitment to improving public service standards in residential areas.

The City centre may find that its share of available resources is reduced.

Local councils hold the key to zero carbon future

Local councils have a key role to play in Britain’s zero carbon future according to a policy paper agreed by the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners highlighting solar panel development in Dringhouses & Woodthorpe (from left to right: James Walker, Chris Twells, Cllr Keith Aspden and Cllr Ann Reid)

Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners highlighting solar panel development in Dringhouses & Woodthorpe (from left to right: James Walker, Chris Twells, Cllr Keith Aspden and Cllr Ann Reid)

The ‘Green Growth and Green Jobs’ paper, which was passed at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow on Sunday, outlines a number of ambitious policies. The motion calls for an expansion to the government’s ‘Green Deal’ and says all homes should be brought up to EnerPHit ‘passivhaus’ energy efficiency standards by 2050. The paper calls on local councils to create arm’s length local energy companies to produce, distribute and sell electricity and heat. It also says all councils should have carbon reduction targets in local development plans and that councils should be working with local businesses to maximise renewable energy investment opportunities in their area.

In July local Liberal Democrats outlined ambitious plans to make York the greenest city in the north of England. The Lib Dem Group called on Labour run York Council to commit to achieving the highest recycling rates in the region, introduce an ambitious carbon reduction programme, and examine setting-up a doorstep food recycling service and a council-owned renewable energy company. Group Leader Cllr Keith Aspden met with Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey MP, to discuss the policy plans in Glasgow yesterday.

Speaking from Glasgow Councillor Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Group Leader in York, commented:

“This policy motion rightly puts local councils at the heart of the Liberal Democrat vision for a zero carbon Britain. It gives us the potential to make York the ‘Greenest City in the North’.

“Local councils like York should be leading the way, but since 2011 the Labour run Council has introduced a green bin tax, closed a recycling centre and overseen a rise in landfill tax and a fall in recycling rates. We need to reverse this decline and get York back to leading the environmental agenda. Ideas such as creating a local energy company and tackling fuel poverty by bringing all homes up to the highest energy standards should be brought forward.

“The Lib Dem plan for a zero carbon Britain will help to create green jobs, revive the economy, lay the foundations for new technologies, new industries and new, sustainable sources of prosperity, free the country from its dependence on fossil fuels and help tackle the grave threat of climate change.”