ONE of York’s most historic buildings is set for its first major restoration in more than 60 years.

Senior councillors at City of York Council will be asked to approve £16.5 million plans to repair and refurbish the Guildhall at a meeting on Thursday.

But Labour accused council leaders of “years of inaction” over the plans and the Green Party said the building has been left to decay.

Under the refurbishment plans, the building would be stabilised and brought back into use, with office space, a new riverside restaurant, a cafe and events space.

Recent surveys revealed significant structural problems and the roofs must also be replaced.

But Green councillor Dave Taylor said: “We should have gone ahead with the restoration when it was first proposed in 2013 to house digital and creative industries, instead of letting one of York’s finest buildings decay over the last six years.”

Labour councillor Neil Barnes added: “The importance of York’s Guildhall means four years of inaction represents one of the biggest and most prominent failures of this Lib Dem-Tory Coalition council. Four years of dithering has put the building at risk, as it deteriorates more every year without generating a decent income to help support its maintenance costs.

“The increased cost to the taxpayer has been entirely avoidable following the political decision to halt progress on a good scheme in 2015.”

But leader of the council, Conservative Cllr Ian Gillies, said: “Labour’s plan for the Guildhall had no costs attached to the project, had no survey of the building, just an idea picked from the clouds without any thought how it could be delivered and at what cost.” He said significant investment in the building is the right choice for the city’s residents and economy. If approved, work could start in the spring and be completed by autumn 2020.