THE controversial demolition of a York homeless hostel has cost the city’s taxpayers £18,000.

Bulldozers reduced the former Peasholme Centre to rubble last week after it was deemed surplus to requirements following the creation of a replacement complex in Fishergate.

The Peasholme Green building was originally marked to be torn down when City of York Council chose the adjacent Hungate site as the location for its new headquarters.

Following the collapse of that scheme, the authority now hopes to market the land to employers and attract jobs.

But opponents of the centre’s destruction claim it should have been retained for other uses, such as housing visiting students or as a charity base, and the council’s Labour group have now revealed the tender to demolish it and clear the site cost £18,000 from the public coffers.

“This Liberal Democrat administration has just wasted taxpayers’ money removing the hostel,” said Coun David Scott, who chairs the council’s economic and city development scrutiny committee and obtained the figure.

“When added to the potential income which could have been achieved from the building until the site is eventually sold, the cost just keeps going up and up and the waste keeps mounting. The only political party which wanted this demolishing with such haste were the Lib Dems, because they wanted to erase the memory of waste. This represents yet another example of missed opportunity.”

But council leader Andrew Waller said Labour last year backed earmarking Hungate as a “prime location” for employment use, including the possible luring of civil service jobs to York.

“Labour have flipped from supporting the clearance of the site for employment use, to supporting clearing the site for a pool they cannot explain how they can pay for, and now want the council to spend money renovating a building they accepted would need to be demolished,” he said.

“The site is a key location next to existing Defra offices and we need to have resolved all issues about archaeology on the site to make sure it is ready for when the upturn comes. Labour’s delay would have cost jobs.”