CITY chiefs considering where to move York's new Arc Light centre for the homeless to have been handed a "clear mandate" to use a former garage in the city centre, it was claimed today.

In a letter to City of York Council leader Steve Galloway, Dave Nicholson, chair of the joint committee of Clifton Ward Residents' Associations, said none of the three other shortlisted sites were "serious contenders".

Mr Nicholson helped lead the protests which saw Arc Light's plans to move to the former Shipton Street School being ditched, in September last year.

More than 2,000 people signed petitions, and hundreds attended public meetings, united in their opposition to the charity's relocation to the former school.

Now Mr Nicholson has urged executive members to look at the former Reynard's garage, in Piccadilly, for the charity's state-of-the-art homeless centre.

"The Piccadilly site was listed as joint second in your analysis of comments received concerning possible sites for Arc Light, with no comments received in opposition to the development (the first choice site failed to meet your criteria)," he said.

"This is the clear mandate that the council has been looking for. Each of the remaining three shortlisted options received less support and more opposition than the Piccadilly site, which further reinforces 17-21 Piccadilly as the best site on which to relocate the Arc Light Centre.

"When applying the site selection criteria (including comments from the public for information) only 17-21 Piccadilly, out of the four shortlisted sites, received any public support.

"This fact adds further weight to the suitability of this site, which is 1,795 square metres in area, currently unoccupied, and immediately available."

Meanwhile, protesters arguing against the use of the Union Terrace car park presented a 1,000-signature petition to council chiefs, as the deadline passed for submission of objections to Arc Light's relocation.

The responses will now be considered by the authority before executive members are asked to select a preferred site at a meeting on May 2.

Updated: 10:05 Wednesday, April 19, 2006