Strensall ward Councillor Paul Doughty, Leader of the Conservative Group in York has today unearthed the minimum true cost of work to date on the postponed Castle Gateway and St. George’s Field schemes.
As reported earlier last month, the Executive at the LibDem-led Council postponed any decision making on redevelopment of St. George’s Field car park until after the next local elections in May next year.
Conservative Councillor Paul Doughty said
I’ve finally managed to obtain figures showing planning permission for St. George’s Field cost £626,890 as part of the Castle Gateway scheme which has already spent a whopping £3.48M before a spade is even lifted! They say they can’t tell me how much they will have to pay the construction company if the Castle Gateway is abandoned as that is “subject to ongoing commercial discussions.
I had a gut feeling the authority was hiding something. They seemed to stall my request for information which I sent on 9th June. They sent me an email 4 days later asking whether I wanted privileged Councillor information or whether I would use in public. Why would I want to conceal anything, the citizens of York have a right to know how their Council spends their money!
Ironically, this lack of grasp of public finances comes the same day as the LibDems proclaim ‘A Cost of Living Crisis Emergency in York’. Indeed and they are adding to it! I was told I’d have to wait under Freedom of Information processes for 20 days. Their own set date passed and they then sent another deadline of 12th July – which also passed and I still had to chase. I’ve thought for some time now that this council is dysfunctional but this is either incompetence, severe disorganisation or secretive behaviour to mask the uncomfortable coalition of two chaotic political parties. The LibDems appear to be pushing any scheme they fear as too hot to handle until after the local elections in May next year over fear of losing votes.
We learned that work on the Guildhall went £5.5M over budget, which is bad, but at least they have something to show. With this, we have £3.5M spent and the potential for nothing else to happen as at least two of the political parties in York want to abandon the St. George’s Field multi-storey car park in York altogether. Who knows if they are prepared to allow Castle Gateway to continue without replacement parking?
Only the Conservatives will commit to saying the Castle Car Park must not be closed until there is a full replacement of car parking spaces in the city, including access spaces for blue badge holders. Our city’s businesses, who’ve had a hard time the past couple of years are reliant on this and so too are residents who live in the Outer wards and villages who don’t necessarily have the best of public transport. The LibDems need to be honest and upfront. Are they abandoning the schemes or are they prepared to lose the parking and betray residents and city centre businesses? What is it to be?”