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Labour and York City FC are calling on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition to be clear about its plans for the Community Stadium after mixed messages from the council’s leadership over the future of the project.
Conservative Council Leader, Coun. Chris Steward, had done little to dampen speculation in recent days that a redesign of the stadium is being considered after saying publicly that “plans could change”, with some now believing current plans could be scaled back.
 
However, further public statements from Coun. Steward, who said there was no plan to scale back the planned 8000 seat stadium, and from Coun. Nigel Ayre, who has confirmed that the Coalition will stick within the confines of the agreed procurement for the scheme, meaning no major changes can be made, have left observers unclear on which of these public statements is accurate.
 
Coun. Janet Looker, Leader of the Labour Group, said:
 
“Labour’s commitment first and foremost in this project is getting a community stadium delivered for York, so we give a cautious welcome to recent comments that indicate no major changes to the current plan.  But these statements conflict with a previous statement where it is claimed plans could change.  We need to know the administration’s official position.
 
“Concerns still remain around communication with the football and rugby clubs confirming they found out about the latest two month delay on the radio.  That is quite staggering.  The delay has still not been officially communicated by the council, consistent with the lack of communication on the project since last summer.
 
“We agree with the Chairman of Football Supporters Federation, Malcolm Clarke, when he said the Coalition need to “come clean” with the sports clubs and the public about what its plans are.  
 
“Labour shares the concerns of York City Football Club about the lack of communication with partners in this project and a lack of transparency over what the current council’s plans are.  Everyone apart from the council seems to be completely in the dark and that undermines public confidence in the scheme.
 
“It is quite clear that any significant variation in the scheme will lead to years of delay, and I think, and very much hope, that the council’s leadership has finally accepted this”.  
 
Should the Coalition parties decide to revisit the design and scale of the stadium project, they will have to restart the procurement process, reach a new agreement with partners and gain new planning permission.
 
This would add years of delay and lost revenue, could involve huge costs in terminating current commercial agreements, and present a significant risk of the project collapsing entirely. 
 
Labour says it began to push the council for answers after the football club raised concerns with Labour councillors about the total lack of communication from the council. Labour councillors worked with the club to understand their concerns and seek assurances on timescale of the project. 
 
“We will continue to ask questions and seek clarity on the progress of the project“, said Coun. Looker.
 
“We need to understand what options are being considered and what the risks are, and what financial exposure this opens the council up to.  If the Coalition has alternative plans, it would be best served just getting them out on the table and explaining why.  The silence until now has just led to anxiety among key project partners which hasn’t helped at all”.  
 
Chairman of York City Football Club, Jason McGill said:
 
"York City Football Club were becoming increasingly concerned by the lack of communication from City of York Council regarding the completion date of the new Community Stadium. Further concerns were brought to the fore by the departure, from the stadium team, of Tim Atkins, Project Manager and Neil Wilford, Project Officer. 
 
“Following this meeting York Labour confirmed that they would ask the Council for clarity on the project and an up to date timescale for completion. 
 
“I am grateful that York Labour raised the issue with the Council and that we now have assurances from Coun. Steward and Coun. Ayre that go some way to allay the club and the supporters’ fears for this vital community and sporting scheme."
 

York City FC and York Labour call for clarity on stadium plans

Labour and York City FC are calling on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition to be clear about its plans for the Community Stadium after mixed messages from the council’s leadership over...

A full and proper consultation on plans to split a primary school across two sites is required before a formal decision is taken, according to a Labour councillor who represents the area.
 
Micklegate ward councillor Julie Gunnell has written to education chief Councillor Jenny Brooks, saying more time is needed for local people and affected parents to have their say on the plan to increase Scarcroft Primary’s capacity by creating a split-site school, with a new building constructed on the Millthorpe school site.
 
She says:
 
“The south bank area needs new school places to meet demand and I support the provision of those new places, but the council needs to get the process right in how it achieves this.  I’m concerned at the absence of public consultation being undertaken before the Executive takes a decision on this plan.  The Executive has talked a lot about consultation in recent months but this decision has been delayed once already due to a lack of consultation by the council on this proposed expansion.
 
“Local people are becoming more aware of the proposal after Micklegate’s ward councillors convened a public meeting last week, but many people still feel they are missing the key information that supports this decision, a decision which impacts beyond just the Southbank area”.
 
“A lot of parents have written to me concerned that this is a fait accompli, which, given that the council have not yet initiated any public consultation, is quite understandable.  It’s quite obvious that such a decision will impact local people, including the parents and carers of children at both Scarcroft and Millthorpe schools.
 
“I’m urging Coun. Brooks to ensure a thorough and proper consultation process  is undertaken with parents  before any decision is made”.
 
Coun. Gunnell is calling on Coun. Brooks to defer a decision on the split-site expansion plan until March’s Executive meeting, following a meaningful public consultation.

Councillor Julie Gunnell calls for more time on school split plan

A full and proper consultation on plans to split a primary school across two sites is required before a formal decision is taken, according to a Labour councillor who represents...

Labour is raising serious concerns regarding the Community Stadium project, as progress under the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration is delayed yet again.
 
It follows the news that the next phase of the project – agreeing the commercial contract – has been delayed once again, with a key Executive report slipping from February to March.
 
This follows a number of delays since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration took over in May 2015: first in July – where it was confirmed the stadium would not be open in time for the start of the 16/17 football season – and then again in August – at the same time as York St John University pulled out of the scheme.
 
Further delays risk the stadium not being open for the 17/18 season, meaning lost revenue for the sports clubs and leaving the Council open to compensation claims.
 
There are also concerns about continuity of management of the project, with a number of key members of the project team staff having left the Council or having been taken off the project.
 
There has also been a lack of communication with partners, especially the football club, and meetings of the Stadium Lead Members Group, a committee for lead councillors to monitor the project, have been cancelled.
 
Councillor Janet Looker, Leader of the Labour Group on City of York Council, said:
 
“The Community Stadium is an incredibly important project for the city, with the previous Labour administration approving a business case, gaining planning permission for an 8000-seat stadium and securing the partners that made the whole scheme viable.
 
“Our suspicions are that further delays to the actual development of the stadium will be announced soon, making missing the start of the 17/18 football season increasingly likely.  This would result in significant knock-on costs to both the football and rugby clubs, leaving the Council open to compensation claims. Staff leaving the project and a lack of communication with partners, the public and Councillors is obviously very worrying.
 
“It is clear there are problems when repeated attempts by the football club over a period of months to gain information on the project have been ignored by the present administration.
 
“We are calling on the Conservative-Lib Dem Council to urgently address these concerns and confirm that the stadium will be ready for the start of the 2017-18 football season.
 
Councillor Looker is writing to the council’s Chief Executive to request urgent assurances that the stadium project remains on track to meet this important deadline.

Labour raises stadium concerns

Labour is raising serious concerns regarding the Community Stadium project, as progress under the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration is delayed yet again.   It follows the news that the next...

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