James House development
James House development

Labour has challenged the Liberal Democrat-led council on its inability to manage and deliver major schemes after it was confirmed completion of the city’s temporary accommodation hostel for the homeless, James House, has been delayed once again.

The original £12.4m James House scheme was started in 2018 and financed by £10m from the council’s Housing Revenue Account, and £2.4m from Homes England, the Government’s housing agency. But as a scheme scheduled to be completed in January 2019 tips into 2020, no completion date is in sight.  Similarly, the extension to the Marjorie Waite Court housing scheme, originally anticipated for late 2019, will not be complete before May 2021.

Labour Group Leader, Councillor Danny Myers said a theme is developing with large, council-commissioned schemes.

“To have delays in one major development could be considered a misfortune, but delays to a second, third and fourth sounds like mismanagement.  There is a total inability to deliver schemes on time and this is costing York people.  Whether it’s the Community Stadium, the Guildhall, James House or specialist housing schemes at Glen Lodge in Heworth and Marjorie Waite Court in Clifton, the outcome is always the same, delay after delay.  And delays cost money.

“The estimated cost for the Guildhall has doubled since the Liberal Democrats came to power in 2015.  They asked for more money from the public purse for the Stadium after costs escalated, and now James House looks as though it could be mired in legal wrangles over costs.  It does make me wonder what level of oversight Executive Members had when these important decisions were taken”.

The extension of Marjorie Waite Court was anticipated to be delivered in late 2019 according to a 2017 council Executive report, before then being given planning permission by councillors in July 2018.  The planned completion date when work commenced then stretched to late 2020, but now May 2021 is the earliest date being given for works to end.

Last year the council was forced to sever ties with its housing repairs contractor, leaving it without a contractor for several months and a backlog of repairs that it is still trying to sort out.

Cllr Myers said: “Despite the Council’s efforts to reassure us about how major projects are being handled, the facts speak for themselves. I’m not reassured as long as these problems remain a consistent feature of each major scheme. It’s just not good enough”.

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