York Green Party

Greens disappointment at 'pale' and 'bland' Council Plan

4 September 2015

York Green Party's Councillors have expressed their disappointed that the new ruling Conservative/Lib Dem coalition have abandoned previous Council headline commitments to tackle traffic congestion and a shortage of affordable housing and to protect vulnerable people and the local environment.

The Council Plan spells out the priorities of the administration until the next Council elections in 2019. The plan was the subject of an online consultation and will be set at a meeting of the Council Executive on September 24th.

Although the Greens welcome some elements of the 2-page plan, such as the re-establishment of the Green Jobs Taskforce, they have criticised its vagueness and blandness. Green Party Councillor, Denise Craghill, said, "Many of the points are so generalised it is hard to disagree with them, but it is also hard to see exactly what the Council is committing to or aiming for in this plan."

The previous Council Plan, which covered 2011-2015 was 32 pages long and contained commitments to such initiatives as 'The Fairness Commission' and improvements to Park and Ride. "Not all of the pledges were supported by the Greens by any means, but it was at least clear enough that reviews could be made on how the Council had delivered on it. You couldn't do that with this new Plan," said Cllr Craghill.

The absence of any mention of congestion or traffic levels is a serious concern. York Greens have repeatedly called for action, but the only action taken so far by the Council has been the scrapping of the Congestion Commission. A vague commitment that 'steps [will be] taken to improve air quality' is not enough, and indications that the Council may pursue the upgrade of the Outer Ring Road could undermine that effort.

York Greens are also concerned that the only mention of adult social care is 'to carry out a bottom up review'. The fact is that health and social care services have already been significantly reviewed and are already in the midst of significant re-organisation, re-structuring and cost savings. And the pledge to create 'a prosperous city for all' does not indicate any intention of tackling inequality.

Councillor Lars Kramm said, "There's definitely some pale green paint on it, but unfortunately it lacks a green core."

Despite a pledge to 'meet housing need', there is no commitment to affordable housing and the administration has already postponed the construction of nine new Council houses. Greens say that the provision of affordable housing should be a key commitment.

It also remains to be seen whether 'listening to residents' will include acknowledging the widespread concern amongst residents over the introduction of charges for York Art Gallery, for example.

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