Keeping our promises
Last year, Hull City Council made 40 promises about things it would do to 'make a difference' to people's lives in the city.
- We will do more to tackle the impact of illegal drug use in Hull
Vance Atkin destroyed 20 years of his life through heroin abuse - but he has since become a success story, because he has been drug-free for more than a year.
Heroin led him down into a vicious and chaotic world, in which he lost his self-respect and his health - and encountered the death of friends.
He also served numerous prison sentences for petty crimes committed just to get money for his next hit.
But under the close supervision and guidance of staff at the West Hull Addictions Service, run in partnership with the council, Vance was able to successfully complete a methadone programme.
"It was a complete waste of twenty years of my life - I just want to make something of myself now," said Vance.
Meanwhile, waiting times for drug users in Hull to receive treatment have fallen massively. Advice and support, as well as methadone and alternative therapies, are now available within three weeks, compared to an average wait of three months in 2004. Drug workers say this helps to reduce drug-related offending.
- Copshops will target crime hot spots
The mobile copshops have led to a 19 per cent reduction in overall crime in the past year in the areas where they have been set up.
One area was Wellsted Street, west Hull, where there was a serious problem with youths causing disorder and nuisance.
But complaints about disorder fell by 45 per cent, and those relating to rowdy, nuisance or inconsiderate incidents fell by 70 per cent - thanks to the copshop.
There are three mobile copshops in Hull, which are set up in areas covering around 2,000 households for periods of around eight weeks.
Other copshop areas have included Ings Estate, Greatfield Estate, Sutton Park, Dorchester Road, The Quadrant, Fountain Road, Southcoates Lane, Summergangs Road and Albert Avenue.
Across all these areas, house burglaries have fallen by 28 per cent as a result of the copshops - and the theft of motor vehicles by 51 per cent. Working alongside the three copshop police teams are community safety development officers, from Hull City Council, and outreach drugs workers. The copshop project is supported by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund through Cityvision, Hull's Local Strategic Partnership.
- There will be better support and protection for people affected by domestic violence
A brand new multi-agency partnership has been set up to support victims of domestic violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
Hull DAP (Domestic Abuse Partnership) is a multi-agency team including police officers, a health practitioner, a social worker, a housing support worker and other specialist support workers. The team have all been trained in dealing with domestic abuse and are co-ordinated by a specialist worker on secondment from Women's Aid, a national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.
All the team work within the same office, with the aim of reducing repeat victimisation within the city.
- Hull city centre will become a safer place for everyone to enjoy
Retail crime is down by a third, thanks to Operation Capital - a joint effort by Citysafe, Humberside Police, Hull City Council and the Hull Retail Crime Partnership.
City Centre Ambassadors, a six-strong team who tackle everything from vandalism and litter louts to begging and illegal drinking, are making the city centre a safer place. They're run by The Goodwin Development Trust Ltd.
Crime in parts of the new town has fallen by as much as 30 per cent over the last year. The many CCTV cameras in the city, run by the council's state-of-the-art control centre, which is said to be among the best in the country, have also helped reduce crime.
- Abandoned and untaxed vehicles will be removed quickly
More than 1,000 abandoned and untaxed vehicles have been seized and crushed since April 2004.
This has followed reports from the police or members of the public.
And around 10 to 15 motorists per month contact the council to ask if their vehicles, which have come to the end of their life, can be removed for free under the council's Free Take Back scheme.
All vehicles are crushed (just like the ones pictured).
You can help the council by reporting abandoned vehicles by ringing 300300. They will be removed within 48 hours.
- We will develop a more vibrant city centre
Hull's getting a face-lift. The council is actively working with partners to improve the appearance of the city centre by developing new buildings and public spaces. (see also Number 8)
- We will be a more tolerant city
The council organised a Citizens' Day last October, which was part of its attempts to make Hull a more friendly city.
And the council has put out a strong message that hate crimes are not tolerated in Hull - five council offices with trained staff are now available to receive reports of this.
- Hull will be a better place to shop
St Stephen's Development, a £200 million giant retail and business complex with a state-of-the-art bus and train interchange, will be completed next year.
After that, there will be a massive expansion of the Princes Quay shopping centre under the £250 million Quay West development, which will bring scores of new shops.
Some new shops are also planned as part of The Boom complex, a mix of residential and office buildings on a derelict stretch of the east bank of the River Hull, between The Deep and Drypool Bridge.
- Hull will become a cleaner, tidier city
There have been six prosecutions relating to fly-tipping, resulting in more than £9,500 paid in fines and costs, in the last six months. There are a further ten prosecutions pending.
More than 200 statutory notices have been served warning of court action or fines to both businesses and households in relation to environmental matters - and more than 100 formal warning letters have been issued.
Six fixed-penalty fines of £75 have been issued across the city for dog fouling.
All complaints of graffiti, fly-tipping and fly-posting are dealt with within 48 hours.
- People living in council houses and flats will have a greater say
Tenants are leading the way to help Hull Housing provide a better service for all its customers. A Tenants' Forum and Service Improvement Groups have been set up. These give tenants the chance to get involved and have a say. Initiatives include Mystery Shopping, Patch Walks and the Extra Mile Awards (a scheme which rewards council staff for the quality of service). These are bringing real benefits for the city. If you want to get involved, call 300300 and ask for Tenant Participation.
- There will be home improvements for many council tenants
By 2010, thousands of council houses in Hull will have been improved to bring them up to the government's Decent Homes Standard. A total of £189 million - more than the cost of four KC Stadiums - is being spent. The first phase of this scheme is currently being delivered and involves more than 800 homes in both east and west Hull having kitchens refurbished.
- We'll make sure that when we relet our houses they're in good repair
The council has introduced a 'lettable standard' and tenants are involved in ensuring it is maintained. What's more, the council is keeping track of all improvements and repairs - and is making sure they meet the government's Decent Homes Standard.
- We will begin to demolish run-down, empty buildings
Empty and run-down homes often attract vandalism and antisocial behaviour - but Gateway, a partnership between Hull and East Riding Councils, has obtained millions of pounds from the government to improve such areas.
Work started in November 2005 to demolish 89 properties in Furness Close, North Bransholme, the majority of which were empty and causing a nuisance to nearby residents.
A total of 48 properties in Woodcock Street, West Hull, were demolished at the end of January and it is anticipated that more terraces will be pulled down in that area by the end of this month. Work will also start this month in Ings to demolish some of the timber-framed Caspon properties at Camberwell Way, making way for 52 brand-new homes for sale, shared ownership and rent.
- We will reduce homelessness and reduce the number of homeless people in bed and breakfast lodgings
The council will provide fast and efficient advice for homeless people.
There will also be improved access to help for homeless people through
the new customer service centres.
Meanwhile, the council is working with other organisations in the city
to provide more options and solutions to homeless people and families
other than bed and breakfast accommodation.
Since January 2005 there have been no families staying in B&Bs for
longer than six weeks.
- It will be easier to claim housing benefit
Improved administrative processes and computer technology means the average time it takes to process claims is now only around 26 days - and that's fallen from around 62 days last year. Every three months, the council will publish statistics on how quickly it is processing new claims.
- There will be more support to help people live independently in their own homes
Eighty-three-year-old Kath Thomas is just one of the many elderly or disabled people who are able to carry on living at home, thanks to extra support from Hull City Council.
After losing her sight 28 years ago, following a sudden onset of glaucoma, Kath "feels" her way around her warden-controlled, single-storey property in west Hull.
She has lived alone since her husband died several years ago, and feared that, because of her advancing years and disability, she may be forced to give up her independent lifestyle.
But support under the council's Direct Payments Scheme has enabled her to employ a personal assistant, who helps with cooking, washing and ironing - as well as accompanying her on outings such as shopping trips, medical appointments and to church.
"It's wonderful help. It's given me a sense of security that I'll be able to stay here and do what I want to do," says Kath.
- There will be free travel for disabled people and the over sixties
This has improved the lives of thousands of people in the city. If you are eligible and would like to receive a free bus pass, please call Hull Connect on 300300 or pop in to your nearest customer service centre.
- There will be better information for motorists
The council has introduced a trial service of electronic message signs at Holderness Road and Stoneferry Road. The signs, which give motorists important information, including about traffic congestion and road closures, will be extended to other sites in the city between now and 2008.
Car park guidance signs will also be installed at sites across the city, giving information about parking spaces available.
- There will be better information for those travelling by bus
More than 1,300 bus stops in Hull now each have a unique eight-digit number, which allows travellers to text for the latest bus information.
Travellers can simply text the stop number to 64422 to receive, by return, details of the next bus. Brand-new, state-of-the-art electronic bus timetables, which also tell passengers exactly how many minutes until the next bus will be arriving, are also located at selected bus stops in the city.
- Our primary schools will be better still
Fewer pupils now attend Hull schools. Some schools which were built during times when there were more Hull children are to be closed.
The council is closing six primary schools - but, at the same time, it is investing £17 million in building two brand-new primary schools and modernising several others.
The council will be able to reinvest the money it saves in making your child's education even better.
- We will create a better future for children and young people in Hull
The number of children being taken into long-term care is falling.
That's because staff from all agencies are working harder to help families solve problems before there is a need to take children into foster care or children's homes.
What's more, young people aged 16 and over who were formerly in care are now starting to live independently - with support from organisations like the Young People's Support Service (YPSS), a multi-agency team including staff from the council's social services, housing, youth service, and sports development departments.
- New children's centres will help to give our young children the best start in life
The new centres are being opened up at the heart of communities across the city. They provide family support, health services, employment advice and family learning facilities - all within a warm and friendly environment.
Centres which have already opened include Child Dynamix (Preston Road), The Octagon Centre (Walker Street), The Lemon Tree (Noddle Hill, Bransholme) and The Acorns (Nestor Grove, Bilton Grange).
Watch this space for news of the many more centres opening throughout the year.
- We will improve our secondary school pupils' performance in their GCSE exams
Steven Everett's brilliant GCSE results last year were just another achievement by which he proved doctors wrong. They said, when he was born, that he would be laid in bed for the rest of his life, because he has a rare condition known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. But the David Lister pupil achieved 11 strong GCSE passes.He was just one of many pupils and staff who joined in celebrations for what was the city's best-ever GCSE results.
Exactly 44.1% of Year 11 students achieved five or more A*-C grades.
That was a 9.4% increase on 2004 (the national increase was 2.6%).
The record GCSE results mark the eighth consecutive year that standards in Hull secondary schools have risen. These highest-ever results mean that Hull is no longer the lowest-performing local authority in the country, and it has risen six places in the national GCSE League Table.
- We will ensure better results for 14-year-olds in their Key Stage 3 exams
A specialist support programme is now in place in all local secondary schools. It's hoped that this year more than 60 per cent of pupils will have achieved Level Five in English and more than 65 per cent will have achieved it in maths.
- We will cut truancy and absence from schools
Truancy has already been cut. All schools are now taking effective action. There has been an average improvement of 0.5 per cent in attendance since 2004 average.
- Our secondary schools will get better
A total of £200 million is to be spent either rebuilding or refurbishing each of the city's secondary schools. (See last month's issue of Hull in print).
- Young people will have more opportunity to improve their skills
More than 85 per cent of 16-18-year-olds across the city are now in education, employment or training to improve their skills. This has risen from 82 per cent since this time last year.
- We will actively encourage young people who are not already in education, training or work onto courses to improve their prospects
The council has been working more closely with Connexions, the young people's advice service, to assist and encourage young people to take up education and training opportunities. The council is also reimbursing bus fares for young people attending training, education or job appointments.
- There will be more work experience opportunities for 15 and 16-year-olds
More local employers are now being recruited into the work experience programme - and around 90 per cent of eligible pupils are now enjoying a minimum of five days' work experience before they leave school. This helps them better prepare for life at work.
- The Central Library will be further refurbished
The £2.3 million refurbishment started in January. When finished in 2007, the library will be a more friendly and welcoming place and have better access and facilities for families and disabled people.
- We will support and nurture entrepreneurs
Pole dancing for fitness is one of the latest crazes to hit Hull. And Clare Bennett, who runs the Pole 4 Fitness studio (as part of Fitness Finesse Gym) on Anlaby Road, is just one of 124 local business people who have been helped by the council. Clare received money from the Business Development Fund to cover the cost of installing ten poles and a stage in the studio - and it's proving really popular with women of all ages.
Meanwhile, back in November the council's Youth Enterprise Team held conferences for hundreds of schoolchildren at the KC Stadium, in order to help develop their entrepreneurial skills.
- We will create more jobs
Since April 2005, the council has assisted 124 businesses with grants and loans. This has resulted in a total of 214 jobs being created in the city.
- We will help more people to improve their job prospects
By the end of this month, a total of 1,135 people will have been trained in the skills they need to gain future employment.
- We will increase the amount of waste that the city recycles
The council, working with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, has launched a campaign to increase recycling to 45%. The black box and blue bin recycling schemes are now city-wide, and major new waste and recycling centres are located at Burma Drive, off Marfleet Lane, and at Wilmington, near Stoneferry roundabout. The council recently delivered an A-Z guide to recycling to every household in the city, as part of the Target 45+ campaign to boost the city's levels of recycling from 17 per cent to 45 per cent.
- There will be major improvements and exciting new facilities in East Park
The official opening of the new East Park will take place on June 17 and will coincide with the Lord Mayor's Parade. It will mark the beginning of nine days of celebrations in and around the park.
A £10.5 million regeneration project has included the building of a giant walk-through aviary, an animal education centre, a farmyard and stable blocks. And the historic splash-boat ride is still there!
For childhood friends Chris Craven and Dez Rocket, the regeneration of the park has a special significance.
They spent just about their entire childhood larking about in the park together, and now they've ended up as workmates there.
Chris is project manager, while Dez has been working as a drott driver.
What makes it extra special is that Chris's father and grandfather were both gardeners in the park.
- The new Orchard Park Centre will improve life for local residents
There will be a ground-breaking development on the site of the Orchard Park Shopping Centre. The new centre - a 'Neighbourhood Integrated Service Centre' (NISC) - will include a replacement community centre, a modern local health centre, city council customer services, a community resource centre and council offices.
- We will save money by being more efficient and spend that money on things that make a real difference
The council has recently negotiated better contracts on the supply of a
range of products, including staff mobile phones, desktop PCs and bitumen tar products used in road works. This has freed up thousands of pounds to be spent on improving front-line services.
The council will also publish annual efficiency statements, in which it will provide evidence of savings made through greater efficiency.
Council financial plans covering the next three years will be updated on an annual basis.
- We will be better at listening and telling you what we are doing
Hull in print has been delivered monthly since last August - and it's a great way of finding out what the council is up to.
Research shows that many people - from all walks of life throughout the city - read and enjoy the magazine.
A Making the Difference booklet (in which you'll find all of these promises) was also delivered free to every home in the city - and that's another way the council has let people know all about its plans.
When it comes to listening, the council is always keen to receive customer feedback through the customer service centres and through 300300, by which people can access the Hull Connect service.
- You'll find it quicker and easier to get what you want from the city council
You can now get access to more than 100 services at the council's six customer service centres (CSCs) across the city - and that includes everything from paying bills and requesting housing repairs (for council tenants) to speaking to specialist council officers through video-conferencing facilities.
The CSCs are located on George Street in the city centre, at North Point shopping centre, Bransholme, at Holderness Road (next to JJB Sports), Walker Street (The Octagon), Ings Road (at the library on Savoy Road), and at Preston Road (retail unit B, next to the Freedom Centre).
- Local people will have more control over services in their neighbourhoods
In each of the seven areas of the city, the council has identified one particular neighbourhood in which to run a pilot project to improve the local community. Each project will engage local people in taking action against issues such as crime, the environment, housing, education, health and employment.
A neighbourhood manager has also been appointed in each pilot area to oversee the work.