A WAR of words has broken out between Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors in York over plans for a new railway station at Haxby.

The Lib Dems accuse Labour of trying to ‘undermine the project’ by continuing to oppose the proposed Towthorpe Road site for the new station.

But Labour says the Lib Dems are trying to ‘steamroller through’ the project at Towthorpe Road against the wishes of local people – and that all it wants to do is make sure all other options have been properly examined.

York’s Lib Dems - who run the council in coalition with the Greens - say the station project is ‘progressing at pace’.

They say £1.5m of Government funding is already in place, along with government commitments to provide the remaining funds. The council has pledged match funding of £4m.

A planning application will be submitted in May 2023 - with a decision likely to be taken at a planning committee in August.

The Lib Dems claim the plans are ‘overwhelmingly backed’ by local residents, and that 81 per cent of 1,200 respondents to a public consultation last year supported the proposals.

“Yet … York Labour continue to undermine the project and threaten its future by opposing the current location of the site,” a Lib Dem spokesperson said.

Cllr Andrew Hollyer, the Lib Dem councillor for Haxby and Wigginton, added: “Labour councillors have been told time and again that the only viable site for the station is Towthorpe Road.

“Their insistence on ignoring the facts amounts to little else than politicking.

“A thorough evaluation shared at Executive in December 2021 from council officers - experts in their field - clearly demonstrates that the Towthorpe Road site presents the only realistic case for delivering the station.

“Considerations include the ownership of the land, deliverability within the Department for Transport’s required timescales, potential connectivity, and ease of access.”

But Labour says the Lib Dems have consistently ignored the views of Haxby Town Council, which said the Towthorpe Road site - a country lane in the green belt - was not ideal and that it would prefer the new station to be next to the York outer ring road.

Cllr Pete Kilbane, the deputy leader of the Labour group on City of York Council, said his group was not opposed to a new Haxby railway station. “Everybody wants a station.”

But the ruling Lib Dems had consistently failed to listen to the wishes of local residents, he said.

The 81 per cent of people in support of the project were in support of a railway station, he pointed out – not necessarily of putting it at Towthorpe Road.

He said if Labour won power in York at the May election they would investigate the possibility of siting the new station next to the ring road - with work potentially being carried out while the ring road is being dualled - to create a ‘Park and Rail’.

If that proved impossible, he said, then Labour would go ahead with a station at Towthorpe Road – but only after other options had been properly investigated.

The station being proposed is an unmanned, two platformed station with an over-bridge, lifts and steps, and cycle hubs and waiting shelters on the platforms.

Council bosses say they expect there to be two trains per hour in either direction, with as many as 250,000 individual journeys a year.