York council leader Keith Aspden survives vote of no confidence following damning report on £404,000 payout to former chief exec

The leader of City of York Council survived a vote of no confidence at a full council meeting yesterday evening (May 4).

York council leader Keith Aspden

The Labour group proposed the vote of no confidence in Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden and it was supported by the Conservative group.

The ‘extraordinary’ meeting was held to discuss the findings of a damning public interest report into the council’s handling of a payout to former council chief executive Mary Weastell.

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The motion put forward by Labour councillors said: “Council resolves that it no longer has confidence in Councillor 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 Councillor Dave Taylor voted against the motion.

All members of the Labour group, Conservative group and independents Councillor John Galvin and Mark Warters voted for the motion.

Councillor 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.

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.

The auditors’ report highlighted a number of issues. 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. At the time, the former chief executive had filed an employment tribunal claim against the council and Cllr Aspden personally.