York Council ‘not functioning’ claim Lib Dems

Coun Keith AspdenCoun Keith Aspden
Coun Keith Aspden
YORK Liberal Democrats have claimed the city’s council is “grinding to a halt” following the cancellation of key meetings.

Both November and December’s meetings of the cabinet, the authority’s key decision-making bodies have been cancelled following the ruling Labour group becoming a minority administration and the announcement that council leader James Alexander is to step down from the role.

But Labour insists opposition groups must take their share of the blame.

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Lib Dem group leader Keith Aspden said: “Cabinet is the key decision making committee of the council responsible for a huge range of executive functions. With so many crucial issues currently on the table it is unacceptable to cancel meetings in this way.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the internal crisis in the Labour Group is coming before the proper democratic functioning of the council and things are grinding to a halt.

“There are important decisions that are not being taken, such as plans for business rates and care charges for the next financial year and proposals for a multi-million pound project for the Guildhall. Cabinet is also due to receive reports on performance covering everything from education to recycling rates to council finances as well an update on the Draft Local Plan.”

Coun Aspden has written to council chief executive Kersten England to clarify the reasons for the meetings being cancelled.

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Labour became a minority administration last month after the defection of councillors from the party.

Last week Coun Alexander said he is stepping down as Labour group and council leader. A new Labour group leader will be chosen in the next two weeks ahead of a full council meeting in December when the new council leader will be chosen.

Coun Alexander said: “Since the council became hung l I have invited opposition members to meet and discuss how their cross party input can be made into cabinet decisions but they have so far not been able to agree a date.

“When announcing last week I was standing down as council leader I postponed the next meeting of Cabinet until after a new leader of the council is elected on 11th December. Part of the reason for that is because it is arguable whether Cabinet business should proceed when it is unclear which leader and which political parties will make up the next Cabinet. I am sure if I had proceeded with the planned meeting Liberal Democrats would have questioned the legitimacy of this meeting and called for me to postpone it. This is the side of front line council politics in York that I won’t miss.

“I expect the new leader to chair the postponed December Cabinet on 16th December, though final confirmation of this will be made later this week”.