Councillor Stuart Barnes, York Labour’s spokesman for the economy and transport, has spoken out about the terrible mismanagement of the York Central development by the ruling Lib-Dem/Tory coalition on the City of York Council. It is estimated that as many as 1,500 to 2,000 jobs may be lost to the city as a result of errors in planning, this at a time when it has been confirmed that York suffered the largest wage drop of any city in the UK in 2017-18.
A report by the independent urban policy research group Centre for Cities, showed that the city had suffered a real terms drop of £65 per week in average wages, while nearby cities like Hull and Barnsley have conversely seen increases.
Cllr Barnes said that the figures merely confirmed what had been known for some time.
“The economy has been the most neglected aspect of the Lib-Dem/Tory Executive’s remit of the past four years, and the figures we’ve seen in the annual Centre for Cities report only add further evidence. The ruling coalition has no plan for attracting new jobs and driving wage growth in York other than to pin all their hopes on York Central to transform the local economy. But the potential for the site to deliver the jobs York needs is under threat because of the approach being taken.”
Senior councillors agreed to hand power for the development of the site to Network Rail and Homes England, who are expected to prioritise housing over development for well paid jobs.
“The approach makes little sense” said Cllr Barnes. “There are many sites where homes can be developed, but we cannot put high value jobs just anywhere. We’re on the brink of squandering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city to develop its economy, create huge numbers of jobs and drive up wages.
“Our vision would be for the site to deliver s many jobs as possible by ensuring we get the maximum level of commercial space on the site. Given Homes England’s remit to deliver homes, we are now likely to see something nearer the bottom to mid range of the space used for job creation, and so risk up to 2,000 potential high value jobs for future generations.”