The City of York Council spent £60,000 on an unsuccessful bid to land Great British Railway Headquarters, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Derby ended up getting the HQ in March, with Birmingham, Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York all losing out.
City of York Council put £20,000 into the bid, with the remaining £40,000 evenly donated between York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and York Central Enterprise Zone.
The council spent £59,325 on numerous expenditures, such as shortlisting costs including media and stakeholder engagement (£30,000), survey/polling (£2,600), economic data analysis (£1,500), design (£625.00).
Ministerial visit costs included visit planning and materials (£24,000) and a visit photographer (£600).
Other partner contributions included a £3,000 BID design and a £500 Rail Business Daily feature.
The council’s deputy leader Coun Pete Kilbane, who was in opposition at the time of the bid, said Labour backed the project and would not criticise it, but added: “It does seem a lot of money to spend on a failed bid.”
He also said: “The new Labour administration will be more focused on how we invest for growth, especially given the parlous state of the finances we have inherited.”
Cllr Kilbane described the contest as an “expensive lottery” and that he hopes “future growth opportunities will be offered in a far more professional way.”
The decision to overlook York was widely criticised by politicians including Labour’s Rachael Maskell MP and Conservative Julian Sturdy MP.
Ms Maskell described it as a “stunning blow” and “it appears that a political decision has been made.”
Then Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden said: “The way the contest has been run is an absolute shambles.”
Claire Foale, assistant director of policy and strategy at City of York Council said: “We are grateful to everyone who said yes to York and backed York’s bid, including residents, partners, all political groups and businesses.
“As with everything we do we sought to provide value for money whilst delivering on the city’s priorities. Funding for this bid came from a variety of sources with £20,000 from the council’s revenue budget.
“Whilst it was disappointing that our bid was unsuccessful, York was shortlisted in a highly competitive process.”
City of York Council has also bid for the city’s historic centre to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, but council leader Claire Douglas said it is “not a priority” for the new administration.
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