Keith Aspden is still York’s council leader tonight – but he had to rely on support from the Green Party to stay in office.
Cllr Aspden survived a vote of no confidence following the damning public interest report by independent auditors into the council’s handling of a £404,000 payout to the former chief executive.
Mary Weastell was awarded the money at a secret meeting chaired by the council leader. He didn’t declare an interest – even though Ms Weastell had lodged an employment tribunal against him and the council.
The Labour group proposed the vote of no confidence in Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden and an extraordinary meeting tonight – and it was supported by the Conservative group.
The motion put forward by Labour councillors said: “Council resolves that it no longer has confidence in Cllr Keith Aspden to undertake the role of council leader with the integrity, professionalism and ethical standards required of someone having the honour to represent this great city at such a high level.”
All members of the Lib Dem group, the Green Party group and independent Cllr Dave Taylor voted against the motion.
All members of the Labour group, Conservative group and independents Cllr John Galvin and Mark Warters voted for the motion.
Cllr David Carr abstained from the vote, saying he hoped councillors understood that he felt he must stay neutral due to his involvement in the issues previously as former council leader.
It means the vote of no confidence was lost with 25 votes against, 21 votes for and one absention.
Four hour meeting
The meeting lasted four hours – with all councillors voting to suspend standing orders to allow the vote of no confidence to take place.
The meeting was called to discuss a damning public interest report by independent auditors into the council’s handling of a £404,000 payout to the former chief executive.
Auditors highlighted a number of issues of concern. They included
- the inadequacy of the business case presented to councillors for the payment
- a misleading statement about the settlement agreement
- and questions over council leader Keith Aspden chairing a secret meeting to agree the payout without declaring a conflict of interest.
More to follow