Plan to spend £550K on making just eight York homes meet green energy standards is revoked

City of York Council HQ. Photograph: YorkMix

A decision to retrofit eight council homes to meet the highest green energy efficiency standards – at a cost of more than £68,000 per property – has been revoked.

Plans to spend £550,000 on work to bring eight homes up to ultra-low energy guidelines were approved on 30 June at a decision session by Green and Liberal Democrat councillors Denise Craghill and Paula Widdowson.

The decision also approved proposals to bring a further 30 council houses up to a less strict energy efficiency standard – at a cost of £15,000 per home. The council owns about 7,544 homes.

But YorkMix understands the decision has now been revoked because of concerns over the implications.

Opposition councillors hit out at the plans to spend £68,000 on upgrading eight homes and Conservative group leader Paul Doughty said he had ‘called in’ the decision.

He said: “York Conservatives are astounded to learn about developments of this complete farce but we’re delighted that our call-in request has helped force a rethink about one of the most ludicrous decisions of this council administration, and it has made plenty in such a short time.

“How the executive member for housing ever thought that £550,000 to insulate just eight homes was ever a good use of public money, we’ll never know.”

No easy challenge

Cllr Denise Craghill

Labour group leader Danny Myers also criticised the council administration, branding the decision a “fiasco” and adding: “This very serious matter must be investigated urgently.”

Cllr Michael Pavlovic raised concerns about the spend at the meeting, but Cllr Craghill said the trial would give the council a roadmap for how best to retrofit homes to meet strict energy standards and put the local authority in a better position to bid for government money for future work.

Ian Floyd, the council’s head of paid service said in order to provide more information the report will be updated and a fresh decision session scheduled.

Cllr Craghill said: “Our ambition to make York carbon neutral by 2030 is no easy challenge, and fundamental to this is improving the energy efficiency of York’s 80-90,000 existing homes.

“Unfortunately, retrofitting homes to these standards is expensive, and that is why we want to use our available funding to develop our expertise, leverage in more funding, and ultimately, benefit our residents and communities.

“We must support skills development, training and green jobs – taking advantage of the expert advice from the Leeds Energy Accelerator.

“If this didn’t come over clearly enough in the decision paper, I am glad that we will be revisiting the paper and taking it to a further public decision session.

“I am disappointed to see the Labour and Conservative groups seem to be taking a very short term rather than a strategic view on the development of greener homes, but will be very glad to have further discussions on this.”

Mr Floyd said: “Following the decision made by the executive member for housing on June 30 and after carefully considering the report, in order to provide the executive member with additional information and therefore to review the current position, the report will be updated and represented at a future decision session.”