CAMPAIGNERS have defended their "human and legal" right to seek to block the redevelopment and privatisation of York's Barbican Centre.

The Save Our Barbican campaign claimed it had the right to object to what it saw as an abuse, a massive over-development and an unnecessary loss to the community.

"We believe that the sale of the Barbican represents a total waste of public resources and an enormous loss to our community through the removal of precious health, sporting and entertainment facilities," spokesman John Issitt said in a statement to the Evening Press.

He was responding after SOB came under ferocious criticism from City of York Council and developers Barbican Venture (York) Ltd, following the group's unsuccessful High Court bid to block planning permission for the scheme.

Council leader Steve Galloway told the Evening Press last week that it was "grotesquely unfair" on the local community and developers that delaying tactics could put in jeopardy a major investment in badly needed new and modernised leisure facilities.

And Andrew Cossins, of Barbican Venture, said that delays caused by a "handful of misguided protesters" had jeopardised the provision of leisure facilities in the city, and disrupted and inconvenienced residents.

But Mr Issitt said: "Contrary to the propaganda put out by the council, we are not trying to waste public resources, we are trying to save them.

"We believe that with the right skill and most importantly, the right will, our resources could and should be used for the benefit for our community - as the Barbican was intended only 15 years ago."

He claimed the council was seeking to give away for £750,000 a centre which had cost £15 million to build, for it to become a nightclub.

"Our resources are being chucked down the drain. The millions lost by the Barbican have been hidden by the sale of the valuable land which surrounds it."

He claimed alternative heath and sporting facilities had been promised, but not delivered, and massive public objection had simply been ignored.

"The Save Our Barbican group are a group of local residents and users of Barbican facilities," he said.

"Our campaign has been very hard work - taking on big business in league with a council is exhausting, especially when the council has done its best to undermine our campaign both on the pages of the Evening Press and in their attempt to stop our case being heard in the courts."

Updated: 10:58 Monday, June 20, 2005