WE entirely support attempts to make York a fairer, better place to live. Compared to many northern cities, ours is prosperous and thriving. But there are still pockets of genuine poverty.
As we reported last week, there are still a significant number of people in work who are struggling to make ends meet – often because they work part time or in low-paid jobs.
The reality is that in the 21st century, as we have frequently pointed out in our Stamp Out Poverty campaign, the gap between the haves and have-nots has widened, in York as elsewhere.
The work of the York Fairness Commission, backed by the Archbishop of York, is very welcome, therefore. So too was the Fairness Conference held in the city last month: an international conference featuring speakers including the Archbishop of York, council leader James Alexander, and local politicians from across the UK and Europe.
What was perhaps a little less welcome was the cost of holding the one-day conference. A freedom of information request has revealed that cost was more than £18,000 – with £4,000 going on a website and another £4,000 for refreshments.
A £10,000 grant from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation helped meet the cost. But City of York Council – for which read you, the local taxpayer – paid for most of the rest.
That has raised a few eyebrows. As we say, we welcome the fact local politicians take poverty and fairness seriously. If this conference were to have come up with real solutions that made the lives of York people better, then fine. But £4,000 on a website promoting a one-day event seems steep. We expect the city council to get real value for every penny it spends. We’re not entirely convinced it did in this case.