Police drop York council investigation

City of York Council HQ. Photograph: YorkMix
19 Dec 2017 @ 6.12 pm
| News, Politics

Police have dropped their investigation which followed two councillors being sacked from the City of York Council executive.

And the news has drawn a stinging response by their party, the Liberal Democrats.

YorkMix revealed in September that North Yorkshire Police had been called in after senior councillors Keith Aspden and Nigel Ayre were dropped from their posts.

It is unclear as to whether the police probe was into both councillors, or only one.

Detailed assessment

The Conservative leader of York council David Carr stripped the pair of their cabinet responsibilities on August 30.

He said he’d no choice given “the the seriousness of the allegations”.

After the suspensions, police said they had “received information regarding this matter which is currently being assessed”.

A spokesman then stressed it did not constitute a criminal investigation.

Nearly 12 weeks later, a North Yorkshire Police spokesman said on Tuesday (December 19):

Following a detailed assessment of information received by North Yorkshire Police, we do not intend to take any further action in relation to this matter.

‘Unjust, unwarranted and unprecedented’

Cllr Keith Aspden

A spokesperson for the York Liberal Democrat Council Group said that they have “received the very welcome news from City of York Council that North Yorkshire Police will not be investigating”.

They said: “It is important that due process is followed and we look forward to working with council processes to allow this matter to be resolved as quickly as possible.

“As previously stated in September, the Liberal Democrat group will continue to put the needs of the city first and stands firm in its support for Cllr Aspden and Cllr Ayre.

“The action by the council leader in removing them from their executive positions in advance of any standards process is unjust, unwarranted and unprecedented.”

What now?

Cllr Nigel Ayre

City of York Council is still carrying out an internal investigation into the conduct of Cllr Aspden, who was deputy leader of the council and held the economic development and community engagement portfolio, and Cllr Ayre, who held the culture, leisure and tourism brief.

No details about the allegations facing them have been revealed.

The Standards Committee began an investigation and referred the matter to the authority’s monitoring officer.

Now the police are taking no action, the committee may wish to restart its work, and decide if there is a case to answer.

The Liberal Democrat Group spokesperson said: “We do not know definitive timings, but we will work with the council, so the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Continued uncertainty will do nothing to alleviate the pressure on the Tory-Lib Dem coalition which runs York.