Residents needed – to help City of York Council get its act together
A citizens’ advisory panel will be set up by York Council to encourage residents to help improve transparency and leadership at the authority.
The panel will be created as part of an action plan to help the council recover from a critical public interest report into its handling of a £404,000 payout to the former chief executive.
But opposition councillors branded the panel an “attempt to divert attention” away from Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden, whose role in approving the payout was discussed in the auditors’ public interest report.
Cllr Aspden survived a vote of no confidence this week thanks to the support of Green Party councillors and his own colleagues.
The Lib Dems and Greens are now planning to create a citizens’ advisory panel, which they say will enable residents to help make the council more transparent and improve its governance.
Lib Dem Cllr Nigel Ayre said the panel will “ensure that residents are at the heart of the governance improvements that will be taking place at the council to provide further assurances to councillors and residents”.
He added: “I look forward to hearing resident views on how we can make our local governance processes more transparent, accessible and durable.”
‘Political window dressing’
Green Party Cllr Andy D’Agorne added: “Through the citizens’ advisory panel we will have the chance to engage directly with local residents on issues of governance and transparency.”
“There is certainly more that can be done at the council to improve upon governance arrangements and, more widely, bolster existing processes.”
But Labour group leader, Cllr Danny Myers, said the citizens’ advisory panel was “no more than an attempt to divert attention” from the findings of the independent auditors’ report.
He said: “Only Lib Dem-Green ruling councillors know why they’ve overseen so many governance failures since they started running the council, but the actions required are obvious.”
He said Cllr Aspden “needs to resign”, adding that the proposed citizens’ panel was “nothing more than political window dressing”.
Labour and Conservative councillors proposed a vote of no confidence in the council leader at a meeting to discuss the findings of the public interest report.
An action plan to address the recommendations of the report includes extra training for councillors and officers in managing conflicts of interest, a renewed code of conduct and a review of the council’s use of payouts to departing employees.
The council accepted the auditors’ recommendations and has agreed to a deadline of September 2021 to carry out the actions detailed in the plan.