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Floods prompt calls to ditch digital base idea
COUNCILLORS say plans to turn York’s Bonding Warehouse into a digital media centre should be scrapped after recent flooding.
City of York Council wants to turn the building into a base for up to 250 small “creative” businesses over the next five years and has agreed to spend £1.4 million from its Economic Infrastructure Fund on proposals.
But Dringhouses and Woodthorpe councillor Anna Semlyen, a member of the ruling Labour group who chairs of the economic and city development committee, has said on twitter that public money should not be used for the scheme, after recent flooding highlighted the site’s vulnerability.
She tweeted: “Seriously, Bonding Warehouse digital centre, when temporary escape walkway floods? High-tech kit in flood zone? Don’t want CYC money invested.”
At tomorrow night’s full council meeting, Liberal Democrat leader Carol Runciman will call on Labour to ditch the scheme, saying last month’s floods left the Grade II-listed building inaccessible for several days. The building has been unused since it was damaged by the 2000 floods, and Coun Runciman branded the digital media and cultural centre idea “half-baked”.
She said: “Successive plans for the building have collapsed amid concerns over flooding and maintenance, so pouring more public money into the site after this seems a highly reckless move.”
When the EIF funding was approved in July, officials said several sites for the digital media and cultural base had been looked at, with the Bonding Warehouse emerging as the preferred option. They said small firms had struggled to find suitable accommodation.
Council leader James Alexander said it was committed to the creation of a digital media and cultural centre, and the idea was supported by groups including Local Enterprise Partnerships and Science City York.
He said: “While the Bonding Warehouse was identified as the preferred site for this scheme, we are actively looking at various sites in the city, not least because the demand for creative business space outstrips what can be supplied through this building alone.”
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