York pub doomed by council in-fighting – now campaigners demand another vote

Campaigners are calling for a new vote on the future of the Carlton Tavern. Photograph: YorkMix

A York pub has been condemned to demolition – due to an ongoing row within City of York Council.

Members of the council planning committee voted in favour of a plan to demolish the Carlton Tavern and replace it with a modern care home on Wednesday (October 18).

The decision was tied, with committee chairman Cllr Nigel Ayre casting the vote which doomed the pub.

But Cllr Ayre’s appointment as planning chair is shrouded in controversy – to the point where it affected the outcome of the meeting.

‘Totally opposed’

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He was suspended from the council executive in August, along with fellow Liberal Democrat Keith Aspden, while allegations against them were investigated.

Despite this Cllr Ayre was made planning chair earlier this month.

Many found that decision hard to understand, including independent councillor Mark Warters. As a result he is boycotting planning committee meetings until the standards investigation has finished.

That meant he missed Wednesday’s meeting – and he has since confirmed to YorkMix that he would have voted against the Carlton Tavern demolition if he had attended.

Cllr Warters said he is “totally opposed to the loss of yet more of the historic fabric of York and the snatching of local facilities like pubs by developers”.

His vote would have saved the pub.

“However, I won’t be attending any planning committee meetings until such time as this chair business is resolved.”

Veiled threat

Louise Ennis addresses members of the City of York Council Executive. Photograph: YouTube / City of York Council

Partly as a result of this situation, campaigners are calling for another vote on the decision to bulldoze the Carlton, on Acomb Road.

Planners rejected 150 objections when they voted for the care home scheme.

At a meeting of the Executive on Thursday, one of the leading campaigners to save the pub, Louise Ennis told councillors that there were irregularities in the planning committee vote.

She said: “There are concerns that key evidence was missing, misinformation went uncorrected, scrutiny should be applied to the committee composition, process and council speech, and that this affected the ‘finely balanced’ outcome.”

Campaigners are calling for the decision to be annulled. Then, once more evidence has been presented, the full council should vote on the plans.

Local people attend a meeting at the Carlton Tavern to protest against its closure

Louise said: “One hundred and fifty objections to demolition have now been received, including internal consultees, national and local heritage bodies and amenity societies and residents across the city.

“And yet, no detailed working through of options for retaining the asset were provided by the applicant.”

She also raised concerns about the composition of the council, in the light of Cllr Warters’ decision to absent himself and the controvery over Cllr Ayre’s appointment as chair.

And she said: “While being questioned the applicant made a clear point that they had been working with the council and that if the planning permission did not go through they would no longer continue that relationship.

“This veiled threat clearly influenced the decision by members.”

‘Wilful vandalism’

An artist’s impression of the care home planned for the site

The last objection recorded by the council summed up local feeling about the destruction of this Victorian building and the community pub it contains.

“Acomb is OUR village and what you intend to do is little short of an act of wilful vandalism,” Keith Jarvis writes.

“This building is the last remaining Victorian villa of its kind in our community and a focal point that has been part of our lives for many years.

“Retail in Acomb is slowly in decline and to destroy this public amenity would be just another nail in the coffin.

“The Carlton is a meeting place for the local community to use and enjoy time with our families children and grandchildren where the children can play in safety in their own enclosed play area.”

Mr Jarvis adds:

Nowhere else in Acomb provides an amenity like this and to lose it would be a big blow to us.

I don’t suppose that many of you on the planning committee come from this area so its destruction will have no effect on you or your way of life. To our community it means a great deal.

I have lived in Acomb for 74 years and to see this magnificent building reduced to rubble would be heartbreaking.