Cllr Paul Doughty, the leader of York’s Conservative Group has given his Full Council right of reply to the report of the Lib Dem leader. Paul has described the Lib Dem leader’s report as being lacking in key areas at this crucial time and as far as time allows has addressed concerns of the Conservative Group including the need to build back better after Covid, properly consider issues of office space on York Central and address the failings of the Lib Dems on York’s Local Plan. Cllr Doughty has also formally called for a review of the Community Stadium project to learn crucial lessons for other key council run projects.
Cllr Paul Doughty's full report was as follows:
"Thank you Lord Mayor. The report rightly initially focuses on the ongoing burden of Covid, however it is light on the tangibles of how the council sees York bouncingback. The government grants are indeed to be much welcomed and the report highlights how much the government has truly delivered. However this will still be a hugely tough time for residents and businesses alike financially, what a shame that just a few weeks ago only two councillors in the chamber provided any attempt to keep the council tax increase below the maximum legally allowed.
Cllr Aspden loves to repeat the same nonsense on devolution and his absurd claims that to change electoral boundaries that York has had for just 20 of its 800 year history would essentially see the end of York as we know it. Even with the Lib Dems offeringnothing positive at all to the devolution debate it is impossible to see York not being at the heart of decision making with a broader region of influence. We would finallybe able to see a better run council and better joined up thinking on matters like transport and housing. There are of course different types of consultation from a balanced view of options to a preferred options like the Local Plan, given the council and Lib Dems consultations have been a wall of propaganda for one option and then totally leading questions it should amaze people that support for York to stay as is does not come out at 100%.
I share Cllr Aspden's hope that the York Health and Care Alliance can help improve how healthcare is delivered in the city and that it is an opportunity to develop healthcare around our residents. It will be an important and welcome part of the drive by Government for a new integrated care system to properly integrate health and social care, which has been seen as a priority for future provision. It was encouraging to hear the Accountable Officer for the Vale of York CCG describe it as ‘an opportunity to put the needs of people first and potentially very positive’ recently. Members will have a chance for questions as we will have an agenda item at Health Scrutiny next month.
Once again York Central gets a mention but as with the entire report it is merely anarrative of what has happened and as with most things already all known. There is a lack of detail and I again reiterate the concerns of the Conservative Group that in the hugely changed office space world from the pandemic the office allocation at YorkCentral has not been relooked at to any extent.
The Local Plan finally reappears in Cllr Aspden’s report after months of total silence. Progress remains incredibly slow and it is incredible that after so long to reply to the inspectors their 3rd March letter highlights the council still having not sent all of the required documents. Cllr Aspden puts a very positive spin that the inspectors have approved the council’s timetable, I think it is evident from their letter that the reality is more of a final warning.
As a York City season ticket holder I more than anyone was sad not to be able to see the first match at the Community Stadium. It is good it is finally built but it cannot simply be a case of ‘all’s well that ends well’; the project has come in many years and millions of pounds late and we presumably have further pain to face on the commercial leisure facilities. The council must learn from the experience and I would like to call for a full review of the project. The council embarking on a second Community Stadium is presumably nil but it has a vital relevance to how we deal with other infrastructure projects. Will Cllr Aspden support this review?"