RYEDALE District Council’s plan to move out of its ageing premises in Old Malton have been put on hold by the Conservative group.

The authority already has an agreement in principle to sell Ryedale House and move elsewhere, and its building assets are currently being looked at by external consultants Inner Circle, most recently with a £28,000 review.

But at a meeting of full council on Thursday, Cllr Luke Ives of the Conservatives moved that the plans are not to be looked at until 2018 at the earliest.

He said that with the other things the council needs to look at, the ongoing ‘Towards 2020’ efficiency savings programme and the outgoing chief executive, the authority needs more time to consider the move.

However, the decision to wait was criticised by several councillors, including Cllr Ives’ former Conservative colleague, now Independent, Cllr Linda Cowling, who called it “procrastination”.

She said that Cllr Ives had taken an “arbitrary decision” to hold up the decision making process. “This is an important part of our financial strategy and we have to make a decision - to stay in this building or move out,” she said.

Cllr Di Keal, of the Liberal Democrats, agreed: “I wonder how and why staff tolerate working in this building. We need to make a decision, not defer it. Inner Circle were employed at great expense and the asset review is essential to the future finances of this council.”

However, Cllr Michael Cleary, of the Conservatives, agreed with the delay. He said: “We are moving out of here, let’s just do it in the right way.” Fellow Conservative Cllr Caroline Goodrick said that the state of the building was poor given its relative modernity. “I would expect a building to last more than 40 years,” she said.

The motion to delay the decision was approved by council 12 votes to 11 with two abstentions.