The council’s policy of not maintaining private roads in the city is to be ignored in a special case affecting three properties in Springfield Close, in ruling Lib Dem councillor Nigel Ayre’s Heworth Without ward.

A council director made what was termed an ‘emergency decision’ last week, in consultation with Cllr Ayre, to allocate £400k of public money to make good a section of road they claim is at risk of collapsing into Tang Hall Beck.

The section of private road is unusual in that it is narrow and reaches a dead end after the final property, meaning it would not in general be accessed by anyone other than the three properties’ occupants.


Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pete Kilbane, is challenging the decision.  He says:

“This decision was taken by a senior officer in consultation with ruling councillor and local resident Nigel Ayre, in relation to a private road that happens to be around the corner from where Cllr Ayre lives. 

“The officer report has been prepared in such a way as to try to make the case for the taxpayer picking up the entire bill for full repair of a private road, while suggesting ‘this should not be seen to set a precedent’. What do they expect?  

“The council has hugely exaggerated the emergency nature of this decision and should be undertaking a full investigation into not only why the road failed, but what needs to be done to prevent it failing again.  The report is written as though the council is simply willing to throw good money after bad, for no obvious reason other than the ruling councillor, and nearby neighbour, has said it must be done”.

The council has refused a number of times to confirm the legal ownership of a retaining wall under the road, only confirming that it sits on private land.  Its ownership is critical to establishing where responsibility sits for a wall that had it not failed, would have left the road fit for purpose.


The report from the council’s ‘Director of Place’:

  • States the road is collapsing into the beck – before later stating that it isn’t.
  • Says the collapsed road is affecting numbers 13-23 Springfield Close – when it is affecting just 3 properties: 19, 21 and 23 (see picture).
  • Exaggerates the risk of flooding to a large number of residents’ homes should the beck be blocked by collapsed road.


“The council has taken this decision at great public expense and can expect the floodgates to now open on residents in other private roads making the case that their streets present a risk to public safety and therefore justify claims on the public purse”, adds Cllr Kilbane.

“We are also seeing council officers increasingly being used as cover for politicians not wanting to be held accountable for their public spending decisions, often because they are wasteful or skewed towards ruling councillors’ own wards.

“Looking at this site it is obvious that there is nothing so urgent that it prevents a public report being prepared and published for an elected councillor to make a decision on.  This is a perfect example of the pork-barrel politics and democratic deficit we witness on a frequent basis under this Lib Dem-Green administration”.

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