'Constructive' talks in York over council coalition future

A DRAFT plan to prevent the collapse of the coalition running York Council was thrashed out at a meeting today.

Coun Keith Aspden

It is understood the talks between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats produced an outline agreement paving the way for the two parties to continue to work together.

The proposal is due to be discussed by the respective groups tonight before being formally adopted.

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A statement issued after the talks said: “Representatives from the Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups met this morning to discuss the future of the joint administration.

“The meeting was constructive and it is anticipated that a further statement will be issued in the coming days.”

The future of the coalition was thrown into doubt last week following the effective sacking of two Lib Dem members of the council’s ruling executive.

Conservative council leader David Carr announced he had asked deputy leader Keith Aspden and Coun Nigel Ayre, executive member for culture, to stand down over possible code of conduct breaches.

Coun Carr said the “seriousness of the allegations” had left him with no alternative but to require the two men to stand down.

The decision triggered protests from the Lib Dems and the party’s remaining executive members boycotted a meeting to register their anger.

Coun Carr subsequently criticised the Lib Dems for not naming candidates to replace the two suspended executive members.

He also threatened to choose a new deputy leader if the Lib Dems did not put forward a name.

In response, Coun Stephen Fenton, Lib Dem group chairman, accused the Conservatives of having broken the terms of their coalition deal through the suspensions,.

Details of the allegations being made against the two councillors have not been made public but it is understood they in part related to the handling of council information.

In his original statement Coun Carr said he was asking the two men to stand aside “pending a council standards committee investigation”.

However, no details of any such investigation have so far emerged.

The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has been running York Council since the 2015 city elections which saw Labour lose its majority.