Questions raised over £40,000 City Plan cost

The City Plan, if adopted, would guide development in Ripon.
The City Plan, if adopted, would guide development in Ripon.

Ripon city councillors have been forced to defend the City Plan after questions were raised about the £40,000 cost to residents.

At a council meeting on Monday evening, Coun Andrew Williams (Ind) questioned why there had been £40,000 set aside from next year’s budget for the City Plan.

The ex-Mayor said that when the City Plan started, councillors were told it would be funded by a central Government grant which would be administered by Harrogate Borough Council.

However, Coun Mick Stanley (Con) defended those claims, stressing that the plans are funded by a £20,000 grant and the parish council precept payers’ money would only be used after the plans were accepted.He said: “The City Plan will, when it is adopted by city council, be the statutory instrument for planning in the city.

“There’s a requirement to show that the planning is not only applicable to but part of the Local Plan and there needs to be funding set aside to take it through the next few years.This was fully discussed and it was unanimously agreed at the Finance and General Purposes meeting which is why it was brought to council and so agreed and is now part of the council’s work.”

Despite this, Coun Williams stressed that Ripon residents were “effectively being double taxed” as the council was reserving money for “work that is the responsibility of Harrogate Borough Council”. He said: “This process started with very clear guidance and on the basis that it would not cost the precept payer a single penny.

“If there is a requirement of funding it should be Harrogate council planning authority that is putting that money forward. Residents still have the chance to save themselves £40,000.”

Further concerns were raised by Coun Charlie Powell (Ind) that the Harrogate Borough plan would take precedence over the City Plan once it is launched.

Coun Stanley said: “The whole point of the process of the City Plan is to ensure there is no conflict and there won’t be any conflict and it is at a level with the Local Plan. The City Plan will provide protection for this city from the developers where the Local Plan has miserably failed.”