York council crisis: 7 things you need to know about the current shambles

Former council leader David Carr, from a City of York Council webcast
23 Feb 2018 @ 5.58 pm
| News, Politics

Well that escalated quickly…

York now has a council with no permanent leader, four councillors under investigation, and a coalition administration with the slimmest of majorities.

It was soon after YorkMix revealed how City of York Council leader David Carr had sacked his education lead, Stuart Rawlings, that things began to fall apart.

Cllr Carr lost a vote of no confidence among his colleagues and was ousted as Conservative Group leader.

Former Lord Mayor Ian Gillies took over in that role – and he was expecting to become council leader at the budget meeting on Thursday night (February 22).

But somehow it didn’t work out like that. So where are we now?

The main points

[arve url=”https://youtu.be/LRyeknVx3Jc” thumbnail=”160412″ title=”Watch the whole thing unravel” /]

1. We have no permanent leader
As expected, David Carr resigned as CYC leader. But Ian Gillies did not take over.

He was nominated for the job but lost the vote. So Lib Dem Andrew Waller – previously deputy leader –steps in as interim leader for the time being.

2. There are two fewer Tories
Former leader David Carr dramatically quit the Conservatives during the meeting, muttering darkly about acts of betrayal from some of his colleagues (Suzie Mercer, a very brief replacement for Stuart Rawlings in the education post, resigned with him.)

“Trust and loyalty – virtues which seem old fashioned these days, but which we both hold in high esteem – do not seem to be treated with the same respect by all members of the group,” Cllr Carr said.

But then, the three executive members abruptly sacked from the coalition executive by Cllr Carr probably wonder what’s happened to trust and loyalty too.

3. The council is on a knife edge
With Cllrs Carr and Mercer ditching the Tories to become independents, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has a majority of just one.

The coalition has a total 24 seats (12 each). The opposition parties – Labour (15), Green and Independent (4 each) – have a combined total of 23 seats.

4. Could a ‘no confidence’ vote bring down the administration?
A couple of abstensions is all it would now take to vote down any coalition policy. But a City of York Council spokesman told us it is not possible for a vote of no confidence to trigger a new council election.

5. What next?
Here’s what Lib Dem group leader Keith Aspden is saying.

“Following tonight’s meeting Councillor Andrew Waller is the acting leader of the council and we will be working with the Conservative Group to agree the best way forward.”

They want a new vote on the leadership shortly, possibly on March 8.

Conservative group leader Ian Gillies says, “Despite last night’s disruption the joint administration remains unbroken and both groups are seizing this opportunity to re-boot our arrangements for the last 15 months of this council.”

6. How many councillors are under investigation?
Four. And all the complaints were due to be considered at a meeting of the snappily titled ‘joint standards committee – assessments sub-committee’ on Friday (February 23).

There are complaints outstanding against these councillors:

  1. Keith Aspden (Lib Dem – sacked by David Carr)
  2. Nigel Ayre (Lib Dem – sacked by David Carr)
  3. Stuart Rawlings (Cons – sacked by David Carr)
  4. David Carr (Cons – resigned)

Labour group leader Cllr Janet Looker
7. What is the opposition saying?
Labour is by far the largest opposition party. Here are some highlights from group leader Janet Looker’s official reaction.

“The chaos that ensued last night was the reflection of a lack of maturity on the part of the two coalition partners and is something which needs to change very quickly.”

“A lack of leadership of the city has been a key theme of this administration which has led to particularly poor performance across a number of areas, including poor health and wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable residents, falling wages and economic stagnation.”

“The Tory-Lib Dem Coalition needs to finally show some leadership, demonstrate some maturity, see its term through and be accountable for what it has done and what it has chosen not to do.”

“The two parties therefore need to get on and govern.”