Although I have been rather quiet of late in terms of newsletters, we have been beavering away behind the scenes on a number of fronts, which are beginning to show some results.
There are no fewer than five matters before various EU bodies concerning illegal state aid, human rights breaches and breaches of EU law. We understand that all these issues are actively – if frustratingly slowly – being considered by the EU. Any one of them, if found in favour of the petitioners, would have a major bearing on the Allerton Park scheme.
Furthermore, the Local Government Ombudsman is considering one matter we have brought to the attention of the office of the LGO and a further issue is in the process of being raised with the LGO concerning the behaviour of North Yorkshire County Council during the planning process.
We are also challenging the Section 106 agreement struck as part of the AWRP scheme as the local community would not benefit fully from the c£2 million that has been earmarked under Section 106 – around half is due to go to a local landowner to re-build perimeter walls and repair listed buildings, the cost of which should not be met from public monies.
You may also be aware that North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council have dropped their Judicial Review of the Government’s decision to withdraw £125 million worth of PFI credits for the scheme. This inevitably undermines the financial viability of the scheme.
The latest news on this front is in Bradford and Calderdale, where their incinerator scheme had PFI credits withdrawn at the same time. Not only has this council dropped its JR of the Government’s decision, BUT IT HAS ALSO DECIDED TO DITCH THE SCHEME ENTIRELY because it is no longer financially viable. This news emerged last week, although it appears the decision was taken late last year.
We are continuing to work closely with local MPs and MEPs, who have been very supportive in opposing the Allerton Park scheme, as well as lobbying county, city and borough councillors.
All the latest information we have suggests the scheme is becoming less and less viable. As we forecast, many of the financial assumptions that underpin the case made by NYCC and CYC to justify the scheme are proving to be inaccurate.
We are striving to demonstrate to councillors and others that scrapping the Allerton Park scheme would save money and mean cuts being made elsewhere – for example, to rural bus service subsidies and social care – could be reversed.
It would be dishonest to say we were not disappointed when our JR was unsuccessful, as that would have stopped the scheme in its tracks. That said, there remain many ways in which we can, and are, challenging the scheme and we remain optimistic that it will not – in the long run – go ahead.