Local Policies

Introduction

The Green Party believes in a fairer society for everyone, within the limits of the natural environment on which we all depend for our day to day existence. Recent climate change reports drive home the urgency for us to take action to cut our carbon emissions, improve resilience and prepare to move as quickly as possible to a low carbon economy.

Our vision for the future of York is for

  • a city in which ‘politics’ is about ordinary residents engaging with decision-making, for example through direct participation in Council meetings, referenda, citizen’s initiatives, and neighbourhood budgets. A culture of open government, where political parties look for common ground in the interests of citizens, rather than opposition for its own sake see pages 5 and 6
  • a city that is welcoming to new residents, visitors and people seeking our help, protects its most vulnerable citizens and tackles low incomes and inequality – for example through actively promoting the take up of the Living Wage throughout the city. We will use Council powers over rate relief, city centre business rents and other costs to support York’s small business employers see pages 8-12 & 15
  • a city that invests in the future by increasing the supply of sustainable affordable housing and ‘green’ jobs, for example through maximising the use of empty buildings and upper floors, funding new build social housing, lobbying nationally for rent controls and prioritising the skills and investment needed to bring all our houses up to the highest standards of energy efficiency, so we can all spend less on energy see pages 14-15
  • a city with less traffic, better transport and healthy residents. We will work with York residents to identify and implement solutions to York’s traffic congestion and dangerously bad air quality. ‘Quick wins’ could include a free city centre shuttle bus, more evening bus services and far more active promotion of car-sharing see page 22
  • a city that lives within its natural limits, protecting its special heritage and green spaces in the urban areas and in the Green Belt around the city. This will help with reducing future climate change, adapting to existing climate change and working to create local resilience. We oppose the excessively high housing numbers in the Local Plan and will put environmental sustainability at the core of the Plan, including local energy provision, more local food, flood resilience and less waste and more recycling, re-use and repair see pages 17 and 19-24

A Green Council will lobby for the restoration of local service levels. The Council is set for yet another austerity budget for 2019/20 and there is no commitment from Labour nationally to restore funding levels. The Green Party General Election Manifesto (see www.greenparty.org.uk ) addressed long term deficit reduction but argued that as the 6th largest economy in the world there is no excuse for failing to properly fund our public services, including local government.

Local Democarcy

Lack of transparency and openness with residents was a regular concern under the Labour administration. Improvements made following Labour’s loss of overall control don’t go far enough. We will

  • promote a culture of openness and transparency. There should be a presumption in favour of providing full information
  • review the Council’s constitution to cut secrecy and promote cross party working
  • consult on a return to the Committee System that enables more cross party involvement in decisions by all Councillors as well as by members of the public
  • introduce public questions to committees and Full Council, not just brief speeches
  • re-enable a 1000 signature petition to be brought to Full Council but add a requirement for this to be accompanied by a full officer report and debate followed by a vote
  • re-enable a 1000 signature petition to be brought to Full Council but add a requirement for this to be accompanied by a full officer report and debate followed by a vote
  • review the scheme of planning delegation to return more decisions to public scrutiny
  • review the Council’s system of scrutiny to make it more consistent and effective
  • introduce a transparent system of public consultation when Council land or property is to be disposed of via a long lease or sold off
  • consult early in any decision making process so that public views can make a difference, whilst making it clear when the Council consults what can be changed and what can’t
  • ensure consultation events are well advertised and in locations and at times accessible to a wide range of people including those in work, the elderly, parents, people with disabilities and so on
  • review all Council funding that affects local neighbourhoods including Residents’ Forum budgets and voluntary and community sector funding, with a view to devolving more funding decisions to a local level and involving more residents in decision-making. Many more councils are now devolving budgets to combine resident participation with fair distribution of limited resources
  • support other channels of resident involvement including Planning Panels, Residents Associations and Parish Councils. We will also support the “parishing” of urban areas if residents want it
  • develop participatory budgeting, using workshops and talks in local communities to enable residents’ engagement with the spending decisions that have to be made
  • continue web-casting Full Council and other meetings. We argued strongly for this to take place.

See also Running the Council.

We have lobbied the Government to support local decision-making by devolving both powers and appropriate funding to the local government level. The Green Party has opposed Government attempts to ride roughshod over local opposition to fracking and has supported the campaign for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal. Locally  we believe an elected regional assembly could play a useful role, but that the devolution of budgets and powers to the local level is most important.

Running the Council

Government funding to York Council has been cut by over £100m since 2011. But there are still choices to be made as to how money is spent, where additional income can be sought, how the Council is run and how it works with York residents. We will

  • aim for a Council tax level on a par with similar authorities. At the moment York has a lower Council tax level than many comparable authorities: York’s average band D Council tax for 2014/15 of £1,166 TO BE UPDATED (without parish and police and fire authority precepts) puts it 14 th from the bottom of a table of 65 shire unitary authorities.* York receives the 9 th lowest government funding per head in the country and as such relies disproportionately more on Council tax income. Overall it has the second lowest spend per head of any unitary Council in England. Our preferred approach is to increase the Council Tax by a small percentage each year in order to protect essential services and maintain the base budget at a more realistic level, as costs and demands on council services continue to increase. This year in a hung council situation we negotiated to pass a budget in which available funds are directed as far as possible towards those most in need.
  • extend participatory budgeting to enable as many residents as possible to take part in meaningful well informed discussions on the Council budget
  • generate income and enhance services through investing in staff to bring in external funding and working with other authorities to develop local authority trading companies, for example a Renewable Energy Company to help reduce local energy costs and our carbon footprint
  • support and invest in the voluntary sector. Review how funding is awarded via ‘Your Consortium’ with a view to bringing the management of grants back in-house. Maintain three-year funding to provide stability
  • review the way the Council works with local communities, tenants associations and friends groups to promote volunteering to complement Council services. We support local action but volunteers should not be expected to replace core services. Much more coordination is needed as well as better communication with residents
  • ensure that the Council promotes equal opportunities in everything it does. We will increase consultation with and support for the wide range of local equality and diversity groups, organisations and initiatives, making more proactive use of the Equality Advisory Group and the Fairness and Equalities Board
  • employ staff directly for all long term work, limiting the use of consultants to when an ‘outsider’s view’ or special expertise is required to move forward
  • resist further privatisation, out-sourcing and externalisation of Council services
  • pay the Living Wage to all Council employees and require it as a standard from Council suppliers and contractors. Promote the Living Wage to other organisations and companies in York, setting a target for sign up
  • implement a sustainable procurement policy based on good value, local purchasing, environmental sustainability and promoting ethical policies such as the Living Wage
  • develop an ethical investment policy for the Council’s pension funds and investments We will lobby the new Government to provide sufficient funding to restore local government service levels (taking into account genuine efficiencies) and local democratic control of Council tax levels. In the longer term we support a land value tax to replace Council tax
  • employ staff directly for all long term work, limiting the use of consultants to when an ‘outsider’s view’ or special expertise is required to move forward resist further privatisation, out-sourcing and externalisation of Council services
  • pay the Living Wage to all Council employees and require it as a standard from Council suppliers and contractors. Promote the Living Wage to other organisations and companies in York, setting a target for sign up
  • implement a sustainable procurement policy based on good value, local purchasing, environmental sustainability and promoting ethical policies such as the Living Wage
  • develop an ethical investment policy for the Council’s pension funds and investments

We will lobby the new Government to provide sufficient funding to restore local government service levels (taking into account genuine efficiencies) and local democratic control of Council tax levels. In the longer term we support a land value tax to replace Council tax

Social services

Protecting the most vulnerable members of our society should be a major priority of any local authority. To this end we will prioritise the protection of health and social care services. In doing so we will

  • resist the wholesale outsourcing and privatisation of care services. Whilst working with voluntary sector partners and social enterprises can provide excellent services, we believe local government should retain direct control to protect standards over time
  • review externalised services such as Warden Call and Telecare and the Re-Ablement Service to ensure that present and potential users are receiving the best possible service, as well as challenging any future moves to privatise the running of the council’s remaining elderly people’s homes
  • work together with staff, user groups and voluntary sector bodies to find the best ways of providing services, including the potential for savings through cooperation with neighbouring authorities
  • prioritise prevention and early intervention measures in keeping with the Council’s responsibility for Public Heath, to help those who need it, when they need it, preventing much greater costs in the long term
  • seek to restore Council funding to people with ‘moderate’ care needs as an entitlement, and in the short term invest extra money in preventative services whilst reviewing the best way to do this
  • implement ‘review and monitoring’ systems to make sure that people receiving individual budgets are not exploited by unscrupulous providers
  • protect and improve mental health services in York in response to rising demand, emphasising the importance of early intervention, quick response and consistent support for service users
  • prioritise provision of adequate levels of welfare advice, benefits take-up schemes and advocacy support
  • adequately support city organisations that work with homeless people as well as those providing information, advice and advocacy to people in housing need
  • work positively with the voluntary sector in keeping with the principles of the York Compact; maintain levels of voluntary sector funding as far as possible including three-year funding arrangements to provide some stability to the voluntary sector in York; establish a Voluntary Sector Capacity Building Fund
  • prioritise support for carers, recognising the invaluable work that they do. We will also seek to ensure that respite care is available at a level that meets clients’ needs; and in the short term begin to reverse some of the recent cuts to respite care
  • support initiatives such as York Faces, the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, that encourage the direct involvement of local service users in the management of service provision
  • maintain and add to the funds in the York Financial Assistance Scheme to provide at least a minimal safety net to those in most urgent need of assistance with food, day to day expenses and basic living costs

We will lobby the new Government to fully restore local government service levels and ensure that all social services are resourced well enough to meet genuine needs. Our fully costed General Election Manifesto commits to free social care for everyone over 65.

Education

The Green Party believes that education should be for everyone for life. In York we will

  • support a diverse and inclusive education that is accessible to all, including Early Years provision
  • restore at least some of the cuts that have left York’s Children’s Centres still in existence but unable to provide consistent full time services
  • promote play as the primary source of well-being and learning for young children, providing pre-numeracy, pre-literacy and social skills and the basis for future learning of all kinds
  • ensure everyone has a good local primary school within walking or easy cycling distance of where they live. Every school should be a good school
  • encourage the inclusion of outdoor activity, citizenship, environmental education and life skills in the curriculum
  • seek to restore at least some of the cuts to the education support services run centrally by the Council for schools. The increasing need for schools to buy in services such as music teaching, careers advice and specialist educational advisors undermines standards and increases inequality
  • support and develop the network of sustainable schools where good management of the school buildings and environment (energy efficiency, energy generation, waste management, food production etc ) complements the curriculum and children’s involvement and learning
  • support the high standards in York’s secondary schools, encouraging the maintenance of links between schools and local communities and resisting the trend to over-specialisation
  • encourage diversity amongst school governors so that all sections of the community are represented
  • continue to provide a wide range of further education courses via the Adult & Community Education Service. We will also explore ways of providing free access to courses for those on lower incomes both as preparation for work and as social and cultural enrichment
  • work with York College, Askham Bryan College, and the two universities to foster good relations between students and local residents, including community volunteering and the enrichment of the student learning experience

See also Services for Children and Young People

We will lobby the new Government to take a fresh approach to education and to maintain levels of funding. Teachers should be allowed to teach, with a focus on the needs of the child or student. We oppose academies, an over-prescriptive national curriculum and the marketisation of education. Teachers’ pay and conditions should be maintained to reflect the key roles they have in our society.

Further and higher education should be open to all – we will abolish student tuition fees.

Also see our national education policy for more details.

Children and Young People

York Greens recognise the central importance of good services for children and young people. We will

  • maintain and develop York’s playgrounds and playing fields. Seek funds for a centrally located playground away from road traffic. Require developers to provide on-site play space and equipment for all new developments of more than a few houses
  • seek to restore at least some of the cuts to Council-run Youth Services, whilst also working with the voluntary and community sectors to provide a wide range of out of school activities and facilities for young people across the city. Retain the three Personal Support Inclusion posts that work with vulnerable young people and seek appropriate premises for the Castlegate holistic support service
  • support the development of a city centre facility including a cafe for young people
  • support the YorOK website and York Family Information Service as valuable information sources for families and young children
  • work closely with voluntary sector organisations such as York Learning (formerly Future Prospects) to provide support, advice and training for young people and others

We will lobby the new Government to extend the Living Wage to everyone including young people, support cheap access to public transport for young people and lower the voting age

sport

Sporting activities, leisure, culture and the Arts can enhance the quality of life for everyone. We will

  • review the Council’s strategy for providing better access for all of York’s residents to swimming and other sports facilities. Following the Barbican fiasco provision is patchy and many residents, including those in the city centre, have no nearby public facilities
  • review the decision to privatise the running of all our main sports facilities as part of the Monks Cross Stadium deal. We will seek to ensure that York’s citizens are getting the best value for money in the short and longer term and affordable access to high quality services
  • keep Yearsley Pool open and work with the support group and local residents to seeking additional funding to enhance its valued community provision
  • monitor the outsourced Library Service and if necessary consult on the pros and cons of bringing it back into direct Council service provision. We will keep all of York’s libraries open
  • protect Council funding to arts and cultural organisations, prioritising community arts and initiatives to promote access for all
  • work with York’s many heritage organisations large and small to protect York’s heritage

See also Planning and Running the Council

Health

Health We believe that a Local Authority has a central role to play in promoting good health for everyone. We will

  • oppose privatisation of NHS services. Work with the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and the Hospital Trust to maximise the retention of publicly delivered services and minimise ‘externalisation’, protecting standards now and in the future
  • promote preventative health and early intervention as much as possible. We will make this a budget priority and review where extensive cuts in these areas have been made in recent years
  • aim to keep access to comprehensive health services as close to where people live as possible
  • work to keep specialist services accessible to local people to minimise the need for travelling long distances with all the financial and emotional strain that this involves for families
  • involve local residents in discussions about health services and how best to deliver them – and then we will listen to what they say and act on it
  • promote integrated healthcare based on good sound evidence
  • prioritise support to people addicted to drugs and alcohol (whether the services are provided by the Council, voluntary sector or others). This spending is not just the right thing to do, but is very practical as drug and alcohol abuse fuels much crime and anti-social behaviour as well as leading to higher NHS costs if not tackled
  • support the development of a Health & Social Care Hub to improve ease of access to voluntary organisations currently scattered across the city. We will prioritise identifying the necessary capital investment
  • ensure high quality of care for York’s growing older population including dementia care and support for carers
  • protect and improve Mental Health Services in York. We will appoint a local Mental Health Champion to advocate for people with mental health issues when policy decisions are made in York
  • work to reduce York’s health inequalities (Marmot Review – ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’)
  • promote healthy eating including vegetarian and vegan options in Council owned premises and schools and work to make junk food unavailable in schools
  • oppose the fluoridation of water supplies or school milk
  • review the Council’s use of glyphosate weed killers as there is increasing evidence of negative health effects

Many of our other policies on transport, air quality, energy, food, leisure, crime and green space all contribute to a healthier York with less pollution, better food, warmer homes and more secure communities.
We will lobby the new Government to maintain funding levels and equal access to NHS services for all – free at the point if delivery; to stop the privatisation of our NHS and to repeal the Health and Social Care Act. Prescription charges should be abolished. In the longer term we believe that health services should place as much emphasis on illness prevention, health promotion and the development of individual and community self-reliance as on the treatment and cure of disease.

Crime and Anti-social Behaviour

Crime, Anti-Social Behaviour and Local Communities Strong local communities can do so much to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. We will:

  • work with residents groups, individuals, the police and the Safer York Partnership to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, including inappropriate speeds in residential streets, and respond effectively when it does happen and support victims. We will promote a sense of community in local neighbourhoods.
  • actively support development of local Residents’ Associations (Council, private and mixed), Friends Groups, Neighbourhood Watch’s as well as student support schemes like ‘Night Angels’
  • support activities that provide young people with alternatives to ‘hanging around on street corners’, whilst recognising that sometimes young people just need to hang around together
  • initiate and support efforts to bring persistent street drinkers in off the streets and help in their rehabilitation
  • support the provision of an integrated drug treatment service in York. Drugs underpin a large proportion of crime and anti-social behaviour
  • encourage residents to report crimes to enable resources to be focussed where most needed
  • ensure prompt repair of damage to local amenities and public space, and swift removal of graffiti and litter. Neglected local environments encourage crime and lack of community pride. Encourage a multi agency approach including Council staff, Community Payback and volunteers alongside local residents
  • encourage and make it easier to organise street parties and similar community organised events.
  • support ‘alley-gating’ schemes where the majority of residents want them and where they do not cut off important rights of way or access to local amenities
  • support the use of CCTV cameras where residents want them to deter and gather evidence of crime
  • monitor the implementation of the current alcohol restriction zones and positively consider community requests for extensions. We believe it would have been more effective to extend the Alcohol Restriction Zone to the outer ring road, rather than just keep pushing the problem from one group of streets to another
  • review the city’s licensing policy to limit new permissions for late night opening (including off-licenses) in residential areas where residents have identified problems of street drinking.
  • make further use of the concept of saturation zones to limit the concentration of licensed premises, particularly those involving off-sales and late opening hours close to residential areas
  • support the work of Victim and Witness Support in York and North Yorkshire
  • promote campaigns against domestic violence and support the work of North Yorkshire’s Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS)
    We will lobby the new Government to restore cuts to the police and properly fund community policing to ensure sufficient officers are on the ground and are able to respond to incidents.
Housing

Housing Prioritise the provision of safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable housing in the city through

  • direct investment in new Council housing and working with housing associations. Use available Government funding, local government borrowing and possibly the issue of local housing bonds
  • making better use of existing housing stock and other buildings including Empty Dwelling Management Orders, loft conversions in Council housing to provide larger family houses and initiatives to utilise upper floors in the city centre where possible
  • encouraging development of alternative approaches to shared living such as cooperatives, self-build and co-housing as well as innovative approaches that maximise use of existing accommodation
  • efficient use of existing housing by improving information systems so that property that has been adapted (or is adaptable) for use by disabled people can be identified and any opportunities for people living in larger properties to share with those in housing need can be realised
  • supporting the provision of university funded affordable student housing on campus where feasible and off-campus when appropriate, to ease the pressure on private-rented housing in the city. Continue with the planning controls on change of use for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and work with community associations, student groups and the universities to promote balanced local communities
  • fully supporting organisations in the city that work with homeless people as well as those providing information, advice and advocacy to people in housing need
  • supporting the current dynamic approach to the provision of affordable housing by developers for new builds, whilst challenging the levels of development cited in the current Local Plan. Our preferred level of house building in the Local Plan is well under 800 per annum, with a greater emphasis on better use of existing stock. However we believe it is crucial that a Local Plan is approved to protect against indiscriminate over-development. We will argue that any plan with a higher level of development must include stringent zero carbon sustainability measures, including zero carbon housing, nature conservation, traffic reduction and excellent public transport provision
  • requiring all new homes in the Local Plan to meet levels 5-6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes or equivalent to achieve zero carbon emissions. This is a win-win which reduces York’s carbon emissions, fuel poverty and energy bills and improves quality of life

See also Planning, Flooding, Energy and Fuel, Waste Management and Transport
We will lobby the new Government to prioritise investment in nationwide, directly funded new build affordable housing, to rent, buy and for shared ownership; lift the limit on local authority investment in new home building; introduce rent controls, in line with Green Party policy to make private sector rented housing more affordable and to reduce the amount of public money going to private landlords via housing benefit.
See also policies on Planning and Conservation, Wildlife and Animal Welfare.

Economy and Jobs

York Green Party believes that local businesses have a strong role to play alongside our important large employers such as Nestlé and the Universities, and that all of our citizens should benefit from a vibrant local economy. We will

  • work with city partners to promote a local Green New Deal to create jobs in the green industries of the future including energy efficiency, renewables, re-use, repair, public transport and low carbon science and technology;
  • re-write the Council’s Local Economic Strategy to focus on creating a resilient low carbon locally based economy that meets the needs of York residents , rather than the current unsustainable focus on growth
  • support new business start-ups and local small businesses, including affordable start-up accommodation for new businesses. Use discretionary rate relief and the many Council owned commercial properties to help reduce costs for new small businesses in York
  • allow Council tenants to start up businesses from home, as long as they are appropriate for the neighbourhood in terms of environmental and social impact (and subject to the usual planning considerations)
  • prioritise actions to develop local supply chains and business networks through better advertising and promotion of what local companies can provide
  • support and promote skills swaps and time banks such as in Acomb, and research the possible establishment of a local currency, for example, on the model of the ‘Bristol pound’ which now has half a million pounds in circulation via nearly 700 businesses
  • prepare a Transition Energy Descent Plan to move our local economy away from dependence on fossil fuels
  • support York’s diversity of small, independent and locally based shops which retain up to ten times more wealth in the city than multinational stores (New Economics Foundation)
  • oppose any further out of town retail developments for any reason whatsoever
  • work with city centre and other partners to create a high quality public park next to Clifford’s Tower, with only very limited retail or other development on the castle side of the river
  • work with trader associations to secure investment in local shopping parades outside of the city centre to improve their appearance, maintenance and support to locally based shops
  • investigate and consult on a ‘tourist tax’ – a small amount that could be levied on visitors to the city (including hen and stag nights, nightclubs etc) to contribute to the extra maintenance and cleaning costs involved, as well as initiatives such as the river patrol and ‘street angels’

We will lobby the new government to invest in a national Green New Deal to create a million climate jobs, tackling fuel poverty and investing in secure energy, public transport, re-use and repair and local manufacturing and food production. We will also push for devolving more funding to regions to support resilient local economies and demand a review of national planning guidelines to remove the presumption in favour of development and to protect city centres.

Planning

We will work through the new Local Plan and in other ways to

  • promote policies that support a sustainable future, local services, a good quality of life and a resilient local economy, with full involvement of local people in planning decisions. Environmental sustainability and local self-sufficiency should be at the heart of planning policies
  • resist excessive housing development and focus our efforts on environmentally sustainable developments on brown field sites, with the provision of sufficient affordable homes. Our preferred level of house building in the Local Plan is well under 800 per annum over the next 15 years. However we believe it is crucial that a Local Plan is approved to protect against indiscriminate over-development. We will argue that any Plan with a higher level of development must include stringent zero carbon sustainability measures, including nature conservation, traffic reduction and excellent public transport provision
  • ensure the Local Plan maintains the economic focus on the city centre as a ‘living city’ with many residents and local shoppers as well as tourists and family friendly evening activities
  • oppose any further major out of town retail development for any reason whatsoever
  • ensure the Local Plan encourages mixed use development so employment is close to housing to reduce the need to commute
  • ensure the Local Plan safeguards open space and community facilities, including community centres, sports clubs, pubs, social clubs, youth clubs, post offices, local shops and similar venues where people are able to meet each other and help create a safer and more vibrant community. We support the implementation of a city-wide article 4 direction (approved by Council following a Green Party motion) to ensure that all the city’s pubs have to be subject to planning permission for change of use to retail. We also support the registration of ‘assets of community value’
  • ensure the Local Plan protects, expands and enhances natural green spaces that act as the city’s lungs, providing clean air, safe walking and cycling routes and preserve wildlife and habitat
  • ensure the Council retains sufficient capacity to adequately protect our historic and natural heritage through the planning process via sufficient Conservation and Enforcement Officers
  • initiate a proper Environmental Capacity study in the longer term, as part of the process of Local Plan Review, followed by a city-wide consultation process to assess what level of development the city can sustain without changing its special character, overloading its infrastructure, or significantly damaging the quality of life of residents
  • review the scheme of planning delegation so that more planning decisions are returned to public scrutiny and where local residents are fully informed about planning applications that may affect them. Where decisions are delegated to officers there must still be a transparent publicly accountable process that is clear for residents to influence and follow

We will lobby the new Government to overturn the National Planning Policy Framework, which is essentially a developers’ charter and which contrary to the misleading claims of the Localism Act, is at the core of a massive centralisation of planning decisions. We will also lobby for the return of full planning powers to local authorities and local people.

Energy and Fuel

York can do so much more to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We will

  • oppose any proposals for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or coal bed methane extraction in our area. This risks irreversibly contaminating water supplies and has no part to play in a sane sustainable energy policy
  • produce an Energy Descent Plan to gradually reduce the amount of energy we use in the city. This will help us to meet local and national climate change targets, tackle local air pollution and make York more self-sufficient
  • set targets to eliminate fuel poverty in the city. Investment in better insulation, energy efficiency and the use of renewables will lead to warmer homes with lower fuel bills – a ‘win win’ for local residents and the climate
  • ensure that all Council housing reaches the highest standards of energy efficiency as part of the Decent Homes Programme, going beyond the minimum standards required and introducing further renewable energy schemes for Council housing to give tenants lower running costs
  • work with landlords to boost energy efficiency and renewables use in all housing
  • work with public sector partners and local businesses to encourage and support similar energy saving measures, which can also save organisations thousands of pounds; support the work of the Yorkshire Energy Partnership advice service
  • give high priority to the Council’s own Carbon Management programme to reduce the Council’s own energy use for its own sake and as a model to others, including the installation of renewable energy in Council buildings
  • invest in a dedicated Council Energy Officer (now in the 2015/16 budget) to maximise the city’s take-up of available funding (public and private) for insulation and energy efficiency, reducing fuel poverty and supporting community energy projects
  • invest in setting up a Renewable Energy Company for York to contribute to local energy generation, bring down prices and potentially earn additional income. In Bristol the Council is using £2.5m of European Investment Bank funding to take forward potential renewable energy investment worth up to £140m
  • work with local partners to promote skills training for employment in energy efficiency and renewables installation and maintenance See Local Economy and Jobs
  • require all new homes via the Local Plan to meet levels 5-6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes or the equivalent to achieve zero carbon emissions. This is a win-win consistent with policy targets that reduce carbon emissions, fuel poverty and energy bills and improves quality of life
  • promote transport policies that prioritise active travel and the reduction of fossil fuel use See Transport
  • cautiously support the development of biomass in the Yorkshire region as part of an energy mix. All proposals to use biomass should be assessed in terms of their potential negative impacts due to distance travelled by the fuel impact on the supply of agricultural land in the region and local air quality

We will lobby the new Government to create a UK energy policy fit for the 21 st century; to invest in a nationwide programme of insulation, energy efficiency and renewables; create a reliable consistent market for renewables development, UK manufacturing and skills development and Green jobs creation.

Food

The current increase in the number of people needing to use food-banks to survive in York as in other parts of the country is a disgrace in the 6 th largest economy in the world. Food should be acknowledged as a key political issue at the core of both equality and sustainability. We will

  • support the excellent work of York’s food banks and initiatives such as ‘Food not Bombs’ providing free meals in the city centre one night a week to those in need, for as long as they are needed
  • work with partners to improve access to fresh affordable local food throughout the city, for example through local delivery vans. Promoting access to affordable high quality food for all is a long term process which has as much to do with equality and increasing low incomes through the Living Wage, fair benefits and reduced energy bills, as it has to do with ‘cheap’ food. High quality nutritious food should be the norm for everyone.
  • develop a Local Food Strategy for York in conjunction with the Council, the health service and producer groups in our region, including the promotion of local supply chains and networks, support for producers and feasibility studies into increasing the local production of high quality healthy food in the region
  • maximise the amount of locally produced and fair trade food consumed in York through the Council’s own procurement policies and through work with public and private partnership bodies
  • encourage and support organic conversion of farms within the local area, as well as promoting local unsprayed food. We will also promote and develop local farmers’ markets
  • encourage Community Supported Agriculture schemes whereby urban residents build a direct relationship with nearby farms and become more aware of food issues
  • set targets for school caterers to source food locally and encourage healthy eating initiatives in all of York’s schools. Food growing and cooking should be an ongoing part of school life. We will also seek to continue the excellent work done by York Sustainable Schools
  • support, protect and promote the use of allotments in the city whilst developing new allotments where possible when there is local demand. We will encourage the development of children’s allotments linked to schools, shared community allotments, half-plots and space for bee-keepers
  • support local food initiatives such as ‘Edible York’ and ‘Abundance York’ in their work to create a local food culture in the city; support the growing of food crops on allotments, public spaces, private gardens and back yards as well as garden share schemes
  • oppose genetically modified (GM) crops and GM food, following up on a successful Council resolution proposed by Green Party Councillors declaring York a ‘GM-free area’
  • work through the planning system to ensure that all sizeable new developments in York Central include smaller scale local food shops rather than large-scale supermarkets. We will oppose the saturation of local minisupermarkets with off-sales in some areas as opposed to local food shops

We will lobby the new Government to develop a Food Policy that supports farmers to produce affordable, healthy food, sold as locally as possible with high animal welfare and the minimum of chemical inputs. This will improve health, reduce carbon emissions and create local jobs.

Flooding

Increased frequency and severity of river and surface water flooding is going to be an inevitable consequence of the climate change that is already underway. To alleviate this we will

  • work through all our policies to make York a sustainable city that doesn’t add to climate change
  • strengthen the city’s approach to climate change adaption and flood prevention
  • maintain street and gully clearing so as to minimise the risk of surface water flooding in urban areas
  • oppose building on or near flood plains, employing the precautionary approach in local planning guidance
  • seek further funding for additional flood defences and surface water flood prevention, possibly via the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • adopt an ‘invest to save’ approach to upgrade and maintain drainage systems in partnership with relevant agencies where appropriate to deal with increasingly frequent flash flooding and limited drain capacity
  • ensure that new developments meet the highest levels of sustainable construction
  • act on the Surface Water Management Plan with the aim of reducing surface water run-off. This will include maximising the use of permeable surfaces that enable water to soak directly into the ground and minimising the use of impermeable surfaces that increase run-off into the streets and drainage system. This would impact on new developments and car parks, the paving over of front gardens, pavement works and other hard surfaces
  • ensure run-off rates in all new developments are at least 20% below agricultural rates with Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) , rainwater harvesting and water butts as standard
  • argue vigorously at the regional level for more work to be done on tree planting schemes and improved land management in the Dales, where York’s river-borne flood waters arise. The aim would be to slow down the rate of run-off in periods of heavy rain and smooth out peaks of flow. We will also aim to work pro-actively directly with other authorities to make progress on this issue.

See also Planning
We will lobby the new Government to implement fully the Climate Change Act in order to minimise further climate change and to direct sufficient resources to local authorities to enable them to upgrade infrastructure, especially drainage systems, to deal with increased flooding and to work together on upland land management to minimise river flooding.

Transport

Reducing climate change impacts, tackling York’s illegal levels of air pollution and avoiding our beautiful city being strangled by queues of traffic all mean reducing levels of motorised vehicle traffic , not just cleaning up emissions.
Every new development generates additional traffic and the Council has no policy to reduce it. Housing growth is unsustainable if the majority of new residents expect to travel by private car. Following the Lendal Bridge fiasco, we support an independently chaired Traffic Commission that involves everyone in the city in working together to tackle York’s traffic problems. All bids for funding for major transport infrastructure should be scrutinised for cost benefit and effectiveness in cutting carbon emissions before approval, including the £37m proposed for bigger roundabouts on the outer ring road. Our proposed policies focus on traffic reduction, health improvement and neighbourhood renewal – a far more cost effective approach than increasing road capacity on the ring road. We will

  • work towards a traffic free city centre; we will work with all concerned parties to find a model that enables access for people with disabilities, the elderly, businesses deliveries and any other identified need, whilst creating a low speed traffic-free world-class environment.
  • introduce a free daytime city centre shuttle bus running every fifteen minutes, linking the Rail Station, Minster, Hospital, edge of centre car parks, and shopping areas – a 6 month trial has been approved in 2015-16 budget
  • work with local employers to encourage employees to car-share, use the bus, cycle and walk to work
  • work to provide an excellent bus service within the limitations of the current unregulated system, with more frequent evening and weekend services. We aim for low cost inter-ticketing between companies, an oyster card system with reduced fares, and good services to all the areas of the city that need them
  • develop a strategy to create a ‘Dutch-style’ off-road cycle network throughout the city, building on existing off road routes and main roads to make day to day cycling a safe attractive norm for more residents.
  • work with police and others to reduce cycle crime, providing more covered secure facilities and reduce anti social cycling through a mix of education and enforcement
  • re-model ‘bike-ability’ cycle training in York through developing social enterprise and industry sponsorship to make it cheaper and accessible to everyone
  • implement the transport hierarchy that puts people with disabilities and pedestrians at the top, especially in relation to priority at crossings and good quality walking routes whenever highway changes are made
  • follow-up the introduction of a city-wide 20mph limit in residential areas with further engagement with local residents and schools (not done particularly well by Labour) to embed a low speed culture in the city, which is fundamental to encouraging more walking and cycling
  • oppose the over-development in the Local Plan (see Planning) which if left as proposed will undermine sustainable transport options and bring about totally unsustainable traffic levels in York

See also Planning and Local Economy and Jobs
We will lobby the new Government to re-regulate the buses and return control of bus services to local authorities; to take the railways back into public ownership; to scrap HS2 and spend the money on improving railway safety, track maintenance and re-opening local lines. We support HS3 – the electrification of the Liverpool–Manchester-Hull line via York, but see no reason why this should wait for decades until after an unnecessary, costly and damaging HS2.

Waste Management

We are totally opposed to the decision made by the Council in October to go ahead with the over-sized waste processing plant and incinerator at Allerton Park, as the junior partner with North Yorkshire County Council. We believe this will be disastrous for residents’ health, for a sustainable waste policy and in financial terms. We will

  • take advice on options for withdrawing from the hugely expensive contract with Amey Cespa or renegotiating the contract with appropriate small scale waste retrieval plants and no incinerator
  • work towards a Zero Waste Strategy for the City of York drawing on best practice from around the country and abroad. For example San Francisco has a target of zero waste by 2020 without incineration. It has now topped 80% recovery of waste and is being followed by other US cities
  • A Zero Waste Strategy will include
    • very high targets for doorstep recycling with appropriate measures to make this possible. York’s residents are very keen to recycle but are often confused by lack of clear information and support from the Council
    • working with local communities, residents in flats and terraced streets and improving the service in alley-gated areas to make sure everyone can recycle as much as possible
    • the use of community competitions and door to door advice to increase recycling rates
    • small scale mechanical sorting and biological treatment to remove further recyclable materials from the remaining waste
    • working with public sector partners and local businesses to reduce waste production
    • encouragement of home composting and a mobile service for home chipping of woody material
    • the introduction of food waste collections and far more municipal composting
    • active promotion of modern re-useable nappy services
    • an increase in the number of small scale recycling sites around the city for a wide range of recyclables (for example at allotments and any new developments)
    • keeping the cost for collection of bulky household items down and encourage shared collections
    • prioritising some investment in re-use and repair policies
    • the creation of re-use centres at Hazel Court and other feasible locations. Complementing the Community Furniture Store these could include household goods, white goods, clothes, fabrics and other items, possibly run by a franchise as in other towns and cities
    • initiatives to increase the local demand for recycled products. We will ensure that the Council itself uses recycled products throughout all its functions including schools and other facilities and not just in Environmental Services!

See also Running the Council
We will lobby the new Government to change aspects of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme that acts as a disincentive for Councils to collect commercial waste.

Conservation, Wildlife and Animal Welfare

Conservation, Wildlife and Animal Welfare York has many green spaces that contribute to the quality of life in the city. However, the buildings, gardens, parks, rivers, fields, meadows and even the roadside vegetation in the metropolitan area of York are also a habitat for biodiversity and an abundance of wildlife in every neighbourhood. We will

  • protect and promote biodiversity within the City of York based on a regularly updated Biodiversity Action Plan supported by local supplementary planning documents and the Local Plan
  • make a review of the effects of other policy and Council decisions on the natural environment a standard in the decision making process – informal council open spaces need to be managed more effectively for biodiversity
  • protect, enhance and create wildlife habitats throughout the city, and encourage more, not fewer, areas and wildlife corridors within the city where wildlife can flourish and be enjoyed by local people
  • protect the green corridors – the rivers, strays and areas that provide the “green lungs” of York
  • promote a careful balance between the use of green space for wildlife conservation and for the appreciation of that wildlife by local people. The conservation of our natural environment for future generations is a primary consideration
  • formally adopt a York Tree Strategy that includes a comprehensive approach to protection, management, planned replacement and additional planting. We would introduce and enforce a policy that two new trees of a reasonable size and maturity should replace each tree felled. Good quality mature trees need to be considered during any development and their safe incorporation designed into plans at an early stage
  • support the work of York Natural Environment Trust (YNET) and the development of further ‘friends groups’ around the city, but also ensure the Council retains overall responsibility for the day to day care, maintenance and management of natural areas in the city
  • encourage the establishment of more local nature reserves and Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC’s) and oppose the fencing off of any publicly accessible open space for private use
  • promote community and individual gardening and food growing around the city, including more ‘Edible York’ beds in public spaces, in tandem with the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Ensure that all of City of York Council’s policies are consistent with protecting the welfare of animals in the city including its own procurement policies and adopt only humane, management of pigeons and other animals and birds
  • Oppose vivisection laboratories but promote humane research, including technologies such as computer modelling and micro-dosing – which were developed in York.
  • Promote responsible pet ownership including neutering and spaying and encourage local animal shelters to be the first destination for the adoption of animals
  • Ensure that the Council does not hold any investments which support animal experimentation, factory farming or any form of animal cruelty, as part of an ethical investment policy for the Council.
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