Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of the main opposition Conservative group on Leeds City Council, was speaking in the wake of the European Commission’s decision last week to cancel the hosting by the UK of the prestigious year following the Brexit vote.
Leeds’s bid team had been due to meet the judging panel today alongside other UK cities competing for the title, before the plug was seemingly pulled last week.
The overall estimated cost of the bid is £1m, with £200,000 of that being from the council.
Up to this point, the council has spent £155,000, with the rest coming from sponsors and the private sector.
Councillor Carter said: “Let’s face it the European Commission has known since June last year, 17 months ago that Britain was leaving the EU.
“If indeed it is not possible for us therefore to participate in the European City of Culture they should have made it clear then, not allow five cities in the UK to spend thousands of pounds preparing a bid. It is simply unacceptable.
“We should be seeking clarification. We should then be seeking compensation from the EU for all the money that has been spent by British cities and an explanation as to why it’s taken them 17 months to reach this decision and only making an announcement days before judging took place.
“Even the most ardent of ‘Remoaner’ has surely to admit this shows the European Union at its petty and beaucratic worst.”
He further urged the council’s cross-party watchdog system to “get to the bottom of what assurances we were given”.
The Yorkshire Evening Post understands discussions are still taking place between Leeds’s bid team, the council and the DCMS (Department of Culture, media and Sport) on what might happen next, with further clarification expected by the end of the week.