York Green Party

Council opposes fracking but supports incinerator

10 October 2014

At a dramatic and packed Full Council meeting last night, York Councillors declared their opposition to fracking, voted through the sign-off of the contract for the Allerton Park incinerator, voted to continue with the 'Community' stadium project and paused the current Local Plan process.

The meeting kicked off with the announcement of two resignations from the Council's Labour group. Councillors Ken King and David Scott - both long-term Labour members and Councillors for Clifton Ward - both made impassioned speeches saying that they were unable to go on working with the current Council administration. This means that Labour is now a minority administration and needs support from opposition parties or independents to run the Council. The Council Green group has made it clear that they will not go into coalition but will work with the Labour administration on policies that Greens can support.

The biggest upset of the night was the success of a motion brought by Cllr Ann Reid to pause the Local Plan process and re-examine controversial housing allocations which would see thousands of homes built on greenbelt land. The resignations from the Labour whip meant that the vote was tied, with the casting vote of the Lord Mayor, Ian Gillies, deciding the matter. This once again leaves York's planning policy in an uncertain position - one that it has now occupied since the last adopted plan in the 1950s. Green Party Councillor D'Agorne said "our priorities will be to agree a way forward on a 'scaled down' Local Plan, finding an alternative plan to retain the Castlegate Service, protecting Yearsley Pool, and bringing about better transparency and openness in the way the council operates, to make use of all the talents of councillors."

Councillor Andy D'Agorne also presented the Greens' petition calling for the inclusion of Walmgate and Navigation Road in the rollout of 20mph speed limits.

York goes Frack Free

York is now, as far as it can be, a Frack-Free Council. Councillors voted on a motion put forward by Councillor Anna Semlyen in which York Councillors "publicly state their resistance to planning applications for drilling for shale gas". The Council will also communicate their position to the Minister for Energy and Climate Change. This means that York joins Newcastle, Sheffield, Kirklees and a long list of other Councils who have declared their opposition to fracking.

York Green Party supported the petition by Frack Free York which was presented at the July Council Meeting, leading to this motion. It was passed by a vote for 23 in favour, 11 against and 5 absentions.

..but backs the big burner

Councillors also voted on the award of a 25-year waste contract with Amey Cespa for the Allerton Park incinerator project. The project represents a cost of £254 million over 25 years, yet there was comparatively little debate on the subject. Green Councillor Dave Taylor spoke against the plans, saying "Council Officers and Members had been suckered by the private sector on this project. You wouldn't go into a shop and allow the shopkeeper to sell you whatever he liked, and yet this is exactly what has happened. Council has an even greater need to check all available options when spending such a vast amount of other people's money."

The vote clears the way for work on the facility to be built - North Yorkshire County Council had already signed off the project at their meeting last month.

Much of the meeting was taken up with discussing the 'Community' Stadium project. Councillors voted (by a huge majority) to proceed with the procurement process with Greenwich Leisure Ltd as a preferred bidder for three Council leisure facilities. Campaigners were present from York City Football Club and from the campaign to protect Yearsley Pool, which will not be part of the leisure bid, and whose future is therefore extremely uncertain. Andy D'Agorne shared the concerns of campaigners about the future of the Yearsley pool, saying that the city has paid "a massive environmental and economic price" to secure the out-of-town stadium development, but with that having been done, Greens would not block the deal.

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