SPORTS Minister David Evennett is being urged to intervene over delays in building York's proposed new community stadium.
York Central Labour MP Rachael Maskell revealed this afternoon she had written to the Minister to ask him to bring an end to growing speculation surrounding the future of the complex at Huntington.
She said in the letter that York City Football Club chairman Jason McGill, whom she met earlier this week, was concerned that delays in starting work could result in the club's demise.
She said the Football League had told the club that Bootham Crescent was in the worst condition of any stadium in the league, and the changing rooms and floodlights in particular were not up to the current standard.
The MP said the original plans for a new 8,000 seater state of the arts stadium, complete with additional car parking, park and ride, hotel facilities, cinema and health centre, were approved almost a year ago but so far no work had been carried out, and a council report due to be finalised on March 9 and presented to the executive on March 17 would look at the project's future viability.
She claimed that if the report did not accept the viability of the stadium, it could bring about the need for further planning applications and ultimately further delays.
"It is about a year since the council agreed plans for the new stadium, after many years of consultation, planning and discussions so it’s disappointing that building work hasn’t started yet," she said.
"I want York City and York City Knights to get their stadium. It’s what they, their fans and the people of York deserve. It’s what they were promised.
"In the 1930s, York people got the stadium they wanted. Now it’s the turn of York people living in this century to get the stadium they want and all the other benefits this will offer fans and their families.
"I have written to the Government to ask them to help and I will work with both clubs and their supporters to make the case for a York stadium that has a sustainable future and matches the ambitions, dreams and visions of York’s fans."
A council spokeswoman said a report would be brought to next month's executive meeting, seeking approval to progress with the finalisation and signing of the ‘design, build and operate and maintain’ (DBOM) long term contract. "This will also outline the timetable for the delivery of the stadium," she added.
Cllr Nigel Ayre, the authority's Liberal Democrat executive member for culture, leisure & tourism, said he appreciated the MP’s 'disappointment that her Labour colleagues failed to deliver the stadium for which they received planning permission and a capital receipt nearly five years ago.'
He said he had made clear that the method of procurement chosen by former council leader James Alexander and the previous Labour Cabinet would lead to uncertainty and delay.
“Having taken over the portfolio after Labour’s defeat last May, it soon became apparent that the previous administration’s failings were bigger than most of us had ever expected," he said. "I’m pleased to say that a significant amount of work has happened since then to rectify those failings."
He said that if Labour politicians wished to threaten the process by filling the next three weeks with 'ill-informed and scare-mongering press releases', there was very little that could be done to stop it."
Tory council leader Chris Steward claimed it was an 'absurd intervention' from the MP. "Long before she came to York, her Labour colleagues committed to deliver a stadium by 2015 and the facts are they left power with partners having left, investment not in place and not even the design completed, nevermind any building having started," he said,
"We committed to deliver the stadium and are barely seven months into sorting out the project.
"Rather than supporting our delivery Labour are committed to using the stadium as a political football. He added that it was 'appalling' Jason McGill was 'naively' going along with it.