Thom Wiseman of York Conservatives reports on the Labour Council's plan to abolish a car park vital for local business – rather than sell it to local people.
Since the rushed announcement by City of York Council's Labour Leader James Alexander in June to sell off the most important car and coach park in the city centre the public response has been overwhelming.
Cllr Alexander announced in a public statement in the local press that the car park was to be sold off to allow York St. John University to build upon it and expand their campus. The local residents, traders and wider public rallied round to show how much the car park meant to the York community as a whole with it servicing the vital tourist industry, local doctors as well as residents. It is the only city centre car park that has the full facility to park coaches all year round, due to flooding of the other coach park site.
York Council immediately began to back pedal and said well maybe they wouldn't sell all of it off, just part of it and announced a further five options for the selling off of the car park on which a consultation would take place. The consultation did not involve the option not to sell.
Opposition councillors put a question to the Labour Council cabinet to include the option not to sell in the public consultation. A petition of over 22,000 signatures was delivered to the council meeting, the largest to be delivered to York council. With such overwhelming public opposition you would have thought that the Labour cabinet would listen to voters, the people who elected them only a few weeks ago; but no. They decided the only options on the public consultation will be on how to sell the car park to York St. John University not IF.
The whole process has been a sham with a sale price of £3.2 million when a similar car park sold recently for £5 million, and that had no facilities for coaches. There has been no option to put the sale out to bids, residents and local business have discussed having the option to buy after all this is a profitable car park for York but this is not even being put on the table.
Final point is that the newly appointed Council Leader James Alexander used to work for York St. John University, this alone should rule him out of any discussions about the whole process. All opposition parties have rallied together and show their support for saving the vital car park. Labour have tried to politicise the detail of the discussions with the University as it is said they were initially discussed with the previous Lib Dem Council, however the detail is clear the public have spoken and still the Labour Council that were elected on the promise to 'Listen To Residents' as a key part of their campaign are showing they only said they to get elected and do not care about the City at all once the votes have been counted.