Category Archives: Council

Councils, Why do you need to know about my personal life in a consultation on bins?

On a recent consultation into Labour getting rid of the Garden Waste Collections, or charging residents I was faced with the usual public sector bumff of unnecessary details.

An entire section of the consultation was purely about me and my personal life. HEre are the questions included.

  1.  What age range do you belong to?
  2. Are you… ? (male/female)
  3. Do you identify yourself as trans?
  4. What is your ethnic origin?
  5. Which of the following best describes yourself?
    1. Bisexual
    2. Homosexual/Gay Man
    3. Lesbian/ Gay Woman
    4. Heterosexual/Straight
    5. Prefer Not To Say
  6. What is your relationship status?
  7. What is your religious beliefs?

There was more to do with disability and carers.

First of all it is a waste of both mine and their time, it has no relevance to the consultation.

Second of all, why do they need to know my sex, race, sexual preference and inside leg measurement on a consultation to do with sending garden waste to be disposed of, or throwing it in the landfill with the other general waste?

You would think the council had more pressing matters than who I am sleeping with or whether I am trans, but it seems the public sector must carry on this pointless question asking so they can racially and sexually profile the respondents  The respondents personal details are irrelevant and should remain irrelevant and more importantly why do we need the local government to pry on our lives.

Just ask the questions about the and leave the personal details out, it is wasting your time, my time, internet bandwidth and we don’t need the state nosing in.

That just reminds me of the old poster against Socialism

Inspectors all round - Socialism

My home is indeed my castle and too many inspectors are just a waste of my tax money just to unnecessarily profile who is interested in what happens with their Garden Waste.

The Great Big York Council Furniture Debate

Since it was made public that there would be an additional cost to the new Council West Offices for the purchase of furniture there seems to be a a rather wide difference of opinion.

The fact is a new office layout that has completely different use tot hat in which the furniture was intended can make the whole exercise a bit pointless. Anyone who has had the misfortune of having to relocate an office block or combine a couple of companies in a single office will tell you the same. You can spend ages trying to fit each individuals furniture that they previously had and then dummies get spat out “Why do they have a bigger filing cabinet/desk/etc”. You also have the situation of a layout. The installation needs to know what furniture is going where before they start fitting out, especially the electrics.

There is also the flip side to this with hundreds of offices across York being vacated. What is happening to all the old furniture? A lot of charities would very much welcome a donation of a new desk/filing cabinet/etc; or they could use the sale of the furniture to go into the kitty to fund the new furniture. Either way I am all for charities benefiting after a lot have struggled with the new Council funding arrangements.

The big faux pas in all of this is how the hell did the Liberal Democrats not know about this, after all they wrote the initial budget? So surely they must have known the initial budget contained funding for the furniture.

Either way is someone going to tell us what is happening with the furniture?

York Council Waste £300,000 on Art

The new West Offices for City of York Council has commissioned £300,000 worth of art to be installed in the courtyard and the building.

At a time when cuts are being made to services is it right to focus spending on something as frivolous as public artwork?

This is just another long line of ways in which local councils are not thinking of how their residents money is spent, but how to make their environment glamorous. There could have been several other alternatives used such as using it to showcase new artists work. There are hundreds of artists who would relish an opportunity to have a public display of their works of art and used as an advertising billboard to build their career.

As part of a £42 million project some may say that this is just a small part of the budget. However it shows that the public spending is rife, but not on the facilities or services offered by the council, and the burden on York residents should be reduced. This is after all a council that wants to increase Council Tax yet again. York has begun to expect such wasteful spending without a care in the world of the consequences. The huge debt pile the council has does not seem to worry them, they can just blame someone else. Then pass it on to someone else. That’s modern politicians for you, only thinking in election cycles and not the long term good of the City.

I have no idea when the penny will finally drop that wasting our money on frivolous spending is not right when cutting services. They should be looking how to cut waste and spend the money on services rather than glamour.

Public Support Of Strikes… Some Exceptions Included

Since the Labour party are no longer in power the inevitable has happened and their paymasters are starting on their path to strike. However this time there is one big difference, people just don’t care.

The whole purpose of a strike is for it to cause disruption and for the public to show their support for the workers and be on their side. Even more so when not all the workers go on strike; willing to face the abuse that comes from the Union members on the picket line. When the public are not on your side and your co-workers are not on your side, then there really is no point to strike.

A prime example of this is the strike that has been arranged by the Unison members of the York Civil Enforcement Team, Traffic Wardens to layman like you and I who don’t have a degree in pointless job titles. They have decided to hang up their pads over stretching their working week from 4 days to 5 days, while still remaining on 37 hours, due to cutting down on the overtime hours costs. The union is claiming it will put ‘even more strain on the employees leading to sickness and stress levels rising and damage the service‘. I doubt this very much as many do already work the 5 days, but with one day as overtime and I hardly think working a 5 day week over a 4 day week is going to reduce you to gibbering wreck in need to take time off. Clearly the unions who decided this must have a screw loose if they think the public will support extended 4 days to 5 days and by Traffic Wardens of all people.

There is a huge amount of public support for the strike, as long as they remain on strike. The public as a whole do not want to see this issue resolved. There will still be a core staff who can carry out duties to a certain extent, but unlikely to be able to enforce their fine pads on too many people. So there wont be anarchy on the streets of York as there was in Aberystwyth when they decided to stop having traffic wardens. Whoever in Unison thought that the move for York Traffic Wardens to strike would be one that would force the hand of the council is clearly from a different planet.

This seems to be a common theme with strikes that are occurring a lot of far left leaders are heads of the unions and they have become so used to the gravy train that existed under labour, getting public funded to a huge degree on top of the subs meant that the top union bosses were living the life of Riley. With a personal hatred of the Tories many of the Union leaders are bringing a smorgasbord of strikes. The unions have such a low turnout in their elections it shows how little their own members care, the fact that they need the public to be on their side to work is simply not happening. The November strikes showed how much support their was for a 50% support of all members to go on strike.

If Union leaders no longer have the bargaining ability and no longer have the tools to enforce their demands and by default resorting to a strike, then maybe the unions running the pay negotiations is really the wrong way forward. They are simply not up to the job of supporting their members. Having rolling strikes from all industries does nothing but increase public hatred of the public services. They must focus on better ways to negotiate if they wish to move forward with their agenda.

Getting York Moving with a 20mph speed limit…

Labour run York council have decided to implement one of their election pledges, not one of their most popular, which is to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all residential streets in York and surrounding towns.

The police forces in York are already the busiest in the entire of North Yorkshire and now they will have to try and enforce the 20mph speed limits. That is if the council move forwards using frequent repeater signs A 20mph zone can only be enforced if there are frequent repeater signs and only then possible if police can provide the necessary resources to cover these areas, here in lies the cost of hundreds of signs that will need to be installed throughout York. The other major addition is for any street that has a speed over 26mph will have additional traffic calming measures using street furniture to slow traffic down, such as chicanes and even more speed bumps.

Cllr Anna Semlyen is the paid campaign manager for 20s plenty and also the councillor who has been the one shouting about reducing the streets of York to a crawling 20mph and yet apparently she is not paid for her campaigning work in York. Another of her finest hours. Previously it was revealed that she received council funding for her Eco Home Open Day, where she peddles other peoples wares and receives commission. This councillor really does only look after number 1.

There should be 20mph around schools and areas that are deemed a risk, these should be strictly enforced, especially to the bus drivers of York who many seem to ignore the speed limit signs. The 20mph signs is there to highlight a change in hazard. If a driver remains in a 20mph throughout their journey through York their attention will not remain enough to be more alert around the hazard areas that will no longer have a 20mph ‘hazard warning’ sign, it will just be the same as every other street.

The 20mph zones should continue to be used for hazard areas and enforced, they shouldn’t be used because a council show their inability to manage traffic which has been seen by the latest traffic lights at Clifton Green and Blossom Street that now create the longest tailbacks to surrounding roads ever seen.

York has a serious budget problem at the moment, the council have removed over 30% of bins, planning to remove many salt bins, have cut down hundreds of street lights without the budget to replace and yet are willing to spend on big investments that are not necessary and will not be enforced by a stretched police force. I have never known a council be so free and willing to spend huge sums on pet projects such as free wi-fi and 20s plenty, when not being able to maintain the basic services that the council is here to provide for.

York Council Fail To Plan For Retirement Of Executive

City of York Council are currently paying £3,000 a week for a temporary position as they failed to plan ahead for the Deputy Chief Executive retirement

Bill Woolley was the Deputy Chief Executive until 9th June 2012 at which point he took his generous retirement package leaving his post vacant. His retirement has not been a shock and many have known for several months when he was due to retire, most importantly the Council knew when he was due to retire. Normal practice would have been to locate a replacement with a hand over period, as any sensible organisation would do to plan ahead.

Instead an interim director of city and environment services, Neil Taylor, is receiving a rather generous payment of £3,000 per week through a recruitment agency.

In April the major search began with an appointment sub-committee set up to find a suitable replacement. 8 weeks later and no suitable permanent replacement has been found and so a temp has been hired, at a cost of over £1,100 a week extra on top of the highest salary, the job was to offer of £88,000 – £102,000. The position will be held for up to 4 months, at a cost of almost £50,000. This may not be a large cost in the grand scheme of a £500 million budget, but this shows the appalling lack of planning in both budgetary and staffing requirements. I think every member of the council who has been involved in this process should hang their heads in shame over the blatant disregard for the residents of York’s money.

The current York council is showing itself to be excellent at making cuts to public services such as bins in the town or community funding all the while splashing the cash on poor planning, paid union staff and the council leaders personal pet project fund.

York Council Stop Residents From Deciding How Their Money Is Spent

I Love Democracy York had a great policy to allow a little bit of democracy when it comes to deciding who receives the community grants. However this has all been changed under the banner of ‘cuts’.

The previous system worked well, any community group who wanted a grant would send in their application, then each year the council wards would send out to residents a form listing all the organisations who have applied and what for. The residents were then given a chance to have their own say on how their money was spent and these were discussed at the Ward Committee meetings. Many countries who do use a more democratic system of direct democracy to decide on Government and Council events use technology to provide these services and this works well and are inexpensive to run.

The funding for the old system was done on a per ward basis and each ward could then decide, a little bit of neighbourhood decision making. Now the budget is being cut for Neighbourhood Management from around £350,000 down to £141,000.

The logical method to reduce the funding would be to inform the ward councillors that during the next years budget they would have their funding cut, however it seems that the York Labour run Council have decided that the public really shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about their own community spending. So out of the £141,000 budget they will spend 10% of that on an outside privately run company to administer applications, so now we are down to a budget of £127,000 on community spending throughout the entire of York.

Many projects are no longer allowed to be funded using the funding; in 2012/13 this will be Youth Services in local wards, extra street lighting and extra salt bins.

I am a big supporter of an open democracy and also direct democracy, many politicians such as Cllr James Alexander clearly feel that the public should not be allowed to have a say on how their money is spent. All this on an election promise of ‘listening to the public’, so far I am not sure if the Labour council have listened to the public once.

Surely this reduces the roles a councillor will perform, so does this mean the allowance will be cut to accommodate the lower workload of the councillors.

Link to Con Home article