Progress in York – our report back after 12 months in joint administration

A little over twelve months ago, the Lib Dems in York entered into a joint administration on City of York Council. It wasn’t an easy decision to take, but we knew that having increased our representation by a third despite the disappointing national picture, we had a real opportunity to deliver on our manifesto commitments to the people of York.

I am very grateful to many colleagues in the city, including fellow Executive Members, Councillors, local party activists (and our very new members this week!) for their ongoing work.  A year on, we thought we’d let you know how we’re getting on.

Greenest City in the North

We promised to take steps towards York becoming the Greenest City in the North, including working with residents to reverse the decline in recycling rates and developing a plan to cut the Council’s carbon emissions. Additionally, we committed to reintroduce additional winter Green Bin collections and rule out cuts to the frequency of Grey Bin collections.

This was confirmed just two months after the election, as our Emergency Budget in July last year financed the reintroduction of 2 Winter Green Bin collections and scrapped Labour’s proposal for extra Green Bin charges. Our increased investment has funded a new recycling campaign and we have re-established a Green Jobs Task Group.

We will continue our support for waste collections and do more to work with residents on ways to boost recycling in York.

Local decision making: Ward Committees

York’s Ward Committees had been abolished by the previous Labour administration. We pledged to re-instate Ward Committees with a very significant increase in funding to allow communities to take more decisions about local services.

Since then we have devolved nearly £1million in funding to Ward Committees, including from environment, highways and adult social care. Local schemes and priorities are now being funded in communities across York. As the Executive Member for Community Engagement, it has been very rewarding to see Councillors engaging with local communities in conversations about what services and investments will benefit their area most.

We are seeking to develop and improve the new system through sharing best practice with other councils and listening to feedback from residents.

York’s Local Plan

York hasn’t had a Local Plan for sixty years. This lack of direction for the city was something we were determined to change. We pledged to prepare an evidence-based Local Plan to deliver much-needed housing while taking all practical steps to protect the Green Belt and the character of York.

After extensive work preparing a new evidence base and reworking the previous proposals, we recently announced our new proposals for public consultation. We hope these provide a new vision for the city and our communities while striking a better balance to ensure York’s growth and protection for the city’s special character.

More for Frontline Services, and ending wasteful vanity spending

We promised to focus resources on frontline services and put a stop to Labour’s wasteful and irresponsible spending. Our Emergency Budget put an extra £2million into key services such as gritting and street cleaning. Our 2016/17 Budget followed this with another £2.7million investment for road repairs, £1.9million extra for vital children’s social care and £416,000 in new streetlights, plus further investment in gulley cleaning following the flooding in the city. The future of Yearsley Pool, a vital historic community asset, is secure as part of our Community Stadium plans. We will continue our focus on frontline services in the coming year with for example 94 additional litter and dog bins across York.

Recently we were all hugely shocked and disappointed at the vote to leave the European Union. York did buck the national trend, with 58% of us voting to Remain. We will be asking questions and campaigning to try to make sure York doesn’t suffer as a result.

Despite this, I am looking forward to the year ahead. We will continue to deliver on our promises to the people of York and planning is already underway for the 2019 local elections.

You can find out lots more about our progress and our plans for the next 12 months on our website here. You can see the whole  12-point-plan here.

* Keith Aspden has been the Councillor for Fulford Ward in York since 2003 and for Fulford and Heslington Ward since 2015. Since 2019 he is the Leader of City of York Council, and the Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of the LGA Fire Services Management Committee.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Paul Revell 2nd Jul '16 - 7:05am

    Great to see so much progress here in York, especially in light of the GE setbacks and the EU referendum result. We all know the turnaround won’t be sudden or seismic, it will be on the back of many smaller victories – locally as well as nationally.

  • I love York, and I loved going to the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference there this March – even though I did get bitten on the leg by a goose sitting on the pavement as I was trying to walk to the conference venue from the Hilton hotel…

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