Parliament Street is like a desert, there’s a lack of resident engagement and spending plans are unclear – Make It York under fire

The Make It York offices on Museum Street. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Parliament Street has been turned into a “bereft desert” of event space by Make It York – according to a councillor.

And the company needs to be better at engaging with residents, Shambles Market traders and businesses.

Councillors said their own ability to scrutinise Make It York’s work was “in serious question”.

The body’s economic development priorities for the year ahead were discussed at a City of York Council meeting on Wednesday (11 March).

No one from the organisation – which is 100 per cent owned by the council – was at the meeting.

‘Deeply hurtful’

Shambles Market

Chair of Shambles Market Traders’ Association, Kevin Tuohy, said at the meeting: “We would like Make It York to invest in us. It’s a shame that Make It York have not got to know most of us.

“We would like to be involved in the future of the markets – there’s a community feel.”

He suggested market improvements could include a first aid tent and a tourist information stand – as well as plans to make it the venue more environmentally friendly.

Trader Martin Spencer added: “It is deeply hurtful to hear that an ‘ambitious vision’ will be needed to turn the market into a high quality destination. We are already delivering exactly that.”

Cllr Claire Douglas said: “Is Make It York actually interacting with the market traders?

“They are supposed to be consulted about changes and anything to do with the market and at the moment that isn’t happening. Make it York is not interacting with residents either.”

Not in good faith

Parliament Street in York. Photograph: YorkMix

She added:

  • Parliament Street looks like a bereft desert – we have had most of the features taken out because it’s become an event space.

    I can understand we need that but also it’s an amenity for local residents when it’s not in use for events and there needs to be some consideration around that too.

    I just feel as though Make It York have not been dealing with the city in good faith for a while now.

Simon Brereton, head of economic growth at the council, said the authority is waiting to see a business plan from Make It York for the next year, which will be outlined at a shareholder meeting at the end of the month.

But he said an amount of money goes in to the organisation and that “in the past Make It York have been reluctant to identify exactly what that’s being spent on and I’d like more clarity around that myself “.

More engagement needed

Charlie Croft, assistant director for communities and equalities, said: “We did raise the point about interacting with residents.

“The perception is very clear and in this case perception is reality if stakeholders are underrepresented.

“There needs to be more engagement, not just on a one off basis but on an ongoing basis.”

And Cllr Stuart Barnes called for the matter to be referred up to the chair of the Customer and Corporate Services Scrutiny Management Committee.

He said:

  • The ability to effectively scrutinise is a serious question in my opinion.

    The inability to effectively scrutinise issues such as this means there is a real challenge.

Make It York has been contacted for a response.