Many York homes have not received a council leaflet containing important information about how to access help during the coronavirus emergency – sparking strong criticism from opposition councillors.
The Labour Group have described the City of York Council efforts to deliver the leaflets as ‘farcical’ and a ‘fiasco’.
In response the ruling Liberal Democrat group have admitted that the flyer “was only partly delivered by the council’s usual local distribution supplier” but would now go via Royal Mail.
And they have accused Labour of putting party interests before those of the city.
‘Done on the cheap’
Labour Group leader Cllr Danny Myers said: “We know across a number of wards we represent that people largely or completely confined to their homes don’t know what help is available because they haven’t received details from the council of where to go for help.
“Other forms of communication are useful, but they will never reach every home. This has shown up the error of trying to do this on the cheap through private delivery companies rather than through Royal Mail in the first instance, when cost should never have been the primary consideration.”
We now have the farcical situation of local volunteers, who are doing fantastic work, finding their local volunteer Facebook groups needing to apply for council funds to print simple information leaflets for their local communities, in the absence of any official council information leaflet.
That exposes the gaps that still exist in what should have been the relatively simple task of sending a single piece of paper to every home in the city.
Call for apology
Ward councillor Pete Kilbane said information about local businesses, including those who can deliver food, meals and other goods to people, was missing from the flyer.
“People are avoidably suffering by going without help and support that is available, if only they knew about it,” he said.
“An estimated 20% of York residents do not use the internet and this group will contain some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. They have been badly let down by this administration.
“It’s time our council leaders took responsibility for their inaction, apologised for this communications fiasco and urgently made contact with our most vulnerable residents.”
Over 300K letters
But executive member for culture, leisure & communities Cllr Darryl Smalley hit back.
He said: “We absolutely recognise how important it is that residents have the most up to date information on how to get help, how to volunteer and how to keep safe.
“The council will be delivering, using the Royal Mail, over 300k letters and leaflets, some of which will be landing on doormats today.
“That’s on top of the thousands of phone calls the council and volunteers are making, and the hundreds of emails going out to specific groups, and the sponsored social media, radio and newspaper advertising.
“The council has already recommissioned the information flyer that was only partly delivered by the council’s usual local distribution supplier.
“On top of that, residents will soon be receiving a letter containing important health information, a leaflet with details of food delivery/collection services and a special copy of Our City detailing how council services are changing and what support is out there for residents.
“We are deeply disappointed by the approach the Labour group has taken in recent weeks. At this time of crisis, it is essential that elected representatives put party interests to one side and work together with us in the interests of York.”