Contract for building works at Guildhall to cost £10.8 million

The Council has confirmed that the contract for building works at the Guildhall complex will cost £10.8 million.This varies from the amount indicated in November but is in line with the budget agreed last spring.    

The contract was been awarded to Interserve

The work is expected to be completed by November 2019

The Council’s approach to redevelopment of the Guildhall area has been the subject of controversy since it became clear that no private sector firm was prepared to share the risk on the contract. The approved total capital cost for the project is £12.8 million.

To this should be added any shortfall on running costs


Ironically, 4 years ago, the then Leader of the Council, quoted the Guildhall contract when explaining how attendance at the Cannes estate agents jamboree Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’immobilier (MIPIM)” would generate investment in the Guildhall project.

The next MIPIM event takes place in March in a modest little venue in Cannes (see below). The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (formerly Leeds City Region) – part of the budget for which income from York taxpayers – will be represented there, as they have for each of the last 5 years.

Sparks York – Pressure mounts on York Council Leader

It looks like Sparks York – who are responsible for the shipping container village eyesore on Piccadilly – have just managed to get their April 2017 accounts in to Company House by the 18th December deadline. They should be available to view on line next week.

Coincidentally, The Press have run a story today based on the FOI findings published a few weeks ago. Although a representative of Sparks has made a statement saying that everything will be all right in the end, and that the Council will recover its £40,000 investment in the project, there has been no statement from the Council itself.

This is strange given that the storage containers were parked of the Council owned Piccadilly site for 2 months before  a” tenancy at will” was signed.

Nor has there been any explanation of the precedence of a debenture loan taken out by Sparks in July and its effect on the Councils equity financial safety-net.

The decision to expand the area to be leased to Sparks – effectively rent free until the “village” starts trading – was made by the Leader of the Council David Carr last week.

No attempt was made to ask for an updated business plan which reflected the much-reduced period of tenure that the village will have (assuming it ever opens for business) nor were any questions asked about the company’s financial position and debts.

It could be an uncomfortable couple of months for Cllr Carr with a difficult annual budget meeting in prospect and the repercussions from his impulsive decision to sack two LibDem members of his Cabinet, coming to a head.

It is now “time up” for the investigations into the allegations arising out an information “leak” from the York Council.

Cllr Carrs decision to ask for a police investigation – into something that could never have been a criminal matter – raises serious question about his judgement.

Now he is also being implicated in the emerging West Yorkshire Combined Authority/LEP financial scandal highlighted by the Yorkshire Post at the weekend.

Incredibly the Authority seems to be flirting with the long discredited estate agent’s jamboree (Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’immobilier) which takes place in Cannes each year.

Attendance at the hugely expensive jamboree was a factor in bringing down the last Labour administration in the City.

According to one source, the West Yorkshire authority (which includes York) intend to charter their own aircraft to go to Cannes this year!

York Council official in Cannes again

The York Council has admitted in a response to a Freedom of Information request that it has an official attending the annual estate agents jamboree in Cannes.

Cannes. Good for fireworks

Cannes. Good for fireworks

The Authority has been criticised in the past for spending £25,000 at the MIPIM (Le marche international des professionnels de l’immobilier) property festival.

The Council has so far failed to demonstrate that any new investment has been  generated by its attendance at the conference.

Foreign trip curbs to be introduced by York Council

Opposition Councillors move to reduce travel costs as taxpayers complain

The concerns expressed by many York residents, about the amount being spent on foreign visits and travel by both Councillors and officials, are to come under the microscope.

Cannes Nov 2012

The move comes after Labour lost overall control of the Council.

In the main the initiative is aimed at the payment of travel expenses incurred directly by the York Council but it has been suggested that this will be extended to cover other organisations that the Council has representation on and, in particular, those that receive significant Council grant funding.

Any new process will not put an outright ban on travel.

Rather a case for foreign travel will have to be considered by a public session of the all party Urgency committee (which meets each week). The expectation is that the aims of any travel will have to be identified and, later, that a note will be published indicating what was achieved by the trip.

The move is part of a raft of changes being proposed by opposition Councillors which could transform the way that the York Council does its business.

They aim is to make the Council more open and more sensitive to local residents views.

A key feature would be an end to “behind closed doors” decision making meetings.

The costs of foreign – and indeed UK – travel, have been a cause of criticism ever since Labour took control of the Council in 2011.

Previous stories – Click link to access

Cabinet approves £25,000 jaunt to Cannes

Labour Councillor’s Strasbourg trips

Shamed Labour Councillors publish expenses claims

York MPs travel expenses

York Councillors travel expenses exposeds

Foreign travel fails to broaden Social Services report

Labour Cabinet runs up £4000 travel bill.

More about foreign trips

York Council spent £5747 on trip to Cannes

Day out in Scotland

Day out in London

York Council spent £5,747 on trip to Cannes

York twinned with Cannes. Improvement in fireworks expected

York twinned with Cannes. Improvement in fireworks expected

Labour have been forced to admit that they spent £5,747 sending 3 senior officers to this years Estate Agents convention in Cannes.

In 2013 the bill was even higher.

The Council have not revealed how much their partner organisation the “Leeds City Region” – also partly funded by York taxpayers – has spent on the jaunt.

The breakdown for the costs to York Taxpayers are:

“Kersten England (CX) (2 night stay); Katie Stewart (Head of ED) and Andrew Sharp (Strategy and Investment Manager for ED) (both 4 night stays) attended.

Accommodation: £2943.95

Travel: £2653.24

Subsistence for KS and AS: £150 approx.”

In a written answer to a question posed at last nights Council meeting about what tangible benefits attendance at this conference had produced, the Council Leader was less forthcoming.

“Ultimately the benefits of this year’s event will be better known only in the months and years that follow when we see what investor interest results from our attendance”.

So in other words “I’ve no idea”

When pressed further on the benefits of the Cannes initiative he was equally vague

He was asked “What is the value of the investment – detailing each development separately – made in York which can be directly attributed to the Council and its partners’ participation in the 2013 MIPIM event?”


Anger as York snubs Blackpool in favour of Cannes

York means business

Cannes pitch for York growth

It’s another jaunt to Cannes for those supporting York’s unrestricted growth.

The “MIPIM” started yesterday in Cannes. York is represented – with the Leeds City Region – on a stand in the Riviera Hall.

The MIPIM, the annual estate agents jamboree, has been targeted by the Councils “business team” with a glossy brochure which seems to assume that Labours plan, to increase the size of the City by 25%, will get the go ahead.

A booklet extols the virtues of several development sites (click here ) while the Councils own web site lists many locations  the development of which was assumed already to be fully funded (most have planning permission).

The initiative is therefore essentially cosmetic one.

The Council is keen to give the impression that it is influencing local prosperity. The reality is that, because of changes in the York economy over the last decade, it is the national financial recovery which will drive local investment.

The Council have been asked in the past to demonstrate measurable outcomes from events like these.

Apart from vague claims about new “leads” they have been unable to point to a single instance where a new investor has been found and has actually put money into York.

Hopefully opposition Councillors will quiz the Labour Leadership closely on this latest adventure.

Taxpayers have a right to know how much all this is costing?