York’s Lib Dem / Green Coalition Shutdown Conservative voice

Conservative councillor Martin Rowley has condemned the votes of Lib Dem and Green councillors at last night’s Full Council which denied him the chance to give just a three minute ‘right of reply’ to the Council Leader’s report. With Group Leader Paul Doughty away on a long booked holiday all other councillors supporting letting Cllr Rowley give the right of reply but were blocked by the coalition.

Cllr Rowley said ‘I find it a sad state of York’s coalition that they would not let me have just a few minutes to detail where Conservative councillors, speaking on behalf of many tens of thousands of York residents stand on key issues like York Central, the Local Plan and Dualling the Outer Ring Road. It is a worrying reflection of their views on debate and the Council Leader’s confidence in his ability to discuss issues, as well as making his supposed openness look absurd’.

Cllr Doughty added ‘what makes this all the more bizarre is that such common sense substitutions have been common in York and just months ago Lib Dem and Green councillors voted to let Labour Leader Janet Looker pass her budget right of reply to then Councillor Neil Barnes, just to ‘give him a good send off’.

The remarks Cllr Rowley would have made if allowed by the Lib Dems and Greens are as follows:

“Thank you Lord Mayor

I am grateful to the leader for his report, though disappointingly it seems to be very light on detail and more tailored to leaflets. I don’t know how the Lib Dems are getting on with sorting out their York Outer selection counting mess as to whether the Leader is writing this with his eyes on a place in Westminster or whether he will miss out on that opportunity.

I welcome the chance to see progress on York Central, sadly there doesn’t seem to be much and it is a sad situation when the leader has to refer to the site receiving Enterprise Zone status when that was actually granted in 2015. It is good to see the government continuing to back the project and impressive the way the National Railway Museum’s plans are developing. We must insure the council truly delivers value for the taxpayer as the cheques this administration is willing to write need to marry with tangible outcomes given our relative lack of land in the project. When does the leader expect to see businesses move into the site and when will the first homes be ready?

The leader talks about a lack of government support for Brexit preparation, in the very paragraph after he has referred to the funding the government has provided. Whether at executive or council the Brexit preparations of the leader seem more hot air and point scoring than planning. Does he believe certainty has been helped or hindered by his party and others doing everything it can to defy the democratic referendum result?

His three paragraphs on the Council Plan tell us precisely nothing about what the council will be doing. What are the big aims of the administration which already looks like the ‘do nothing’ and ‘upset no-one administration’?

The section on devolution would probably read well if the government announced plans to bring in devolution yesterday, however we are now several years on and it seems the leader is no further on than clichés. What specifically would he like to see? Given he says we must ‘recognise York’s links north and west’ is writing off the south and east the only decision he has taken?

Transport wise I agree with the need to invest in the East Coast Mainline and welcome the way this government is investing in rail, not least in east / west connectivity and finally getting rid of the pacer trains. As chair of ECMA, how much funding does the leader seek and what would he like to see it spent on?

On the ring road I welcome the investment the government is putting in, which will make a big difference to the city’s businesses and residents. The leader urges us to salute his lobbying efforts, can he give the specifics of what he has done?

Finally, I welcome the council receiving the Gold Award in recognition of it’s work with the Armed Forces Covenant. However, I believe there is a great deal more than can be done. As the leader is aware I, as decorated Army veteran, and executive member of the York Royal British Legion, have offered to help with any of the Council’s Armed Forces activities, and I am disappointed that every aspect of this offer has been ignored.”