A LEADING York estate agent has launched a stinging attack on the city’s political leaders – accusing them of “piling on the misery” as the economic crisis deepens.

Kevin Hollinrake, managing director of Hunters, claims City of York Council’s handling of the credit crunch’s impact on the city is “adding insult to injury”, listing what he described as a litany of local economic failures.

He also branded proposals by the ruling Liberal Democrat group to raise council tax by 4.25 per cent as a kick in the teeth for residents.

But council leader Andrew Waller and city strategy supremo Steve Galloway have strongly defended their work to help combat the impact of the recession.

Mr Hollinrake said: “Instead of being beacons of hope in our darkest economic hour for 50 years, our leaders seem determined to pile on the misery.

“They have turned the Barbican into a boarded wasteland, overseen the rejection of plans to redevelop the Terry’s site, told the operators of the Yorkshire Wheel to take their tourists and jobs elsewhere, increased parking charges, awarded themselves their second pay increase within 12 months and are now asking punch-drunk residents to stump up another 4.25 per cent on their council tax – it beggars belief.

“We can’t live on promises – we need jobs and investment now and strong leadership. Instead, we are getting the opposite and there appears to be an ‘I’m all right, Jack’ approach by our leaders.”

Mr Hollinrake withdrew as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton at the next General Election to concentrate on his business, but said his criticism was “not politically motivated”.

But Coun Waller said he had met with the Terry’s site owners to ensure any difficulties were being resolved at “the highest level of the council” and plans for a HSBC data centre at Monks Cross, creating 2,000 construction jobs, were recommended for approval.

“The council is taking steps to work with business and I am grateful for the help businessmen and women give me because they want to work together for the benefit of the city,” he said.

“Residents in York will be paying a much lower council tax than if they lived anywhere else in North Yorkshire and I have been campaigning for millions of pounds of public investment for the York North West site. I have been made redundant myself in the past so I don’t take lightly the effects of the recession on this city.”

Coun Galloway claimed Mr Hollinrake had “got a lot of his facts wrong”, saying most parking charges had not risen and councillors’ allowances had not increased 14 per cent.

“The Barbican is closed because of the failure of a private sector company to invest when it had the chance and the council leadership is in constructive dialogue with World Tourist Attractions, the Yorkshire Wheel owners, about finding a new site,” he said.