York councillor resigns post after ‘failing to answer basic questions’

West Offices – HQ of City of York Council. Photograph: YorkMix
29 Oct 2018 @ 3.01 pm
| News, Politics

A senior councillor has quit her post after being accused of failing to understand her brief.

Council leader Ian Gillies has accepted the resignation of Cllr Helen Douglas as executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods.

Cllr Jenny Brooks has been named as her replacement. Cllr Gillies said:

  • Cllr Douglas offered her resignation over the weekend, which I accepted earlier today.

    I have thanked Helen for her work and she has assured me that she will continue to take a full and active part within the Conservative Group for the remainder of this administration.

Shortly before the announcement, the Labour group called on the Conservative leader to replace Cllr Douglas “after she failed to answer a series of basic questions about her responsibilities”.

Role is worth £15K

Helen Douglas
In the last two council meetings when Cllr Douglas was questioned, Labour said her responses included: “I’m sorry, officers haven’t briefed me on that yet”; “I’m sorry, it’s late and I’m feeling very tired so can’t answer that”.

They said Labour councillors had to explain aspects of Conservative Government housing policy to her at last week’s full council meeting.

Cllr Douglas is being paid £15,600 for her executive member role.

Labour Group leader Janet Looker said:

  • It’s incredibly disappointing but we need someone holding the housing brief who is committed and who understand the issues.

    After being in post for some time now, Cllr Douglas has displayed neither.

    I’ve written to the council leader, who is responsible for Executive Member appointments, to say we have no confidence in her.

    If a councillor is picking up a taxpayer funded allowance, they need to display some sense that they are interested in the issues and that they are accountable to the public.

Quit Labour over ‘bullying’

Clifton councillor Helen Douglas defected from the then ruling Labour Group to the Tories in September 2014.

She accused the leadership of bullying. Writing in YorkMix she said: “Democracy is not a word York’s Labour administration understands – or achieves in their style of leadership.

“If this administration were working in business they would have been sent written warnings and sacked long ago.”

Cllr Douglas is standing down at the next election and is in the middle of looking for a job, so she felt that this was an appropriate moment to leave the executive.