Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Remote Meeting
Contact: Fiona Young Interim Democratic Services Manager
Declarations of Interest
At this point, Members are asked to declare:
· any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests
· any prejudicial interests or
· any disclosable pecuniary interests
which they may have in respect of business on this agenda.
Members were invited to declare at this point in the meeting any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, any prejudicial interests or any disclosable pecuniary interests they might have in the main item of business on the agenda (Agenda Item 3).
The following personal interests were declared:
In declaring their interests, the above Members all confirmed that they remained open-minded in respect of the Public Interest Report.
The following prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interest was were declared:
Cllr Aspden stated that he had requested and been granted a dispensation by the Monitoring Officer and the Chair of Joint Standards Committee to enable him to take part in the debate and decision on Item 3.
At this point in the meeting, any member of the public who has registered to address the Council, on a matter directly relevant to the business on this agenda, may do so.
Please note that the deadlines for registering to speak at our meetings have changed to two working days before the meeting, in order to facilitate the management of public participation at remote meetings. The deadline for registering is 5:00pm on Thursday, 29 April 2021.
To register to speak please visit www.york.gov.uk/AttendCouncilMeetings to fill in an online registration form. If you have any questions about the registration form or the meeting please contact Democratic Services. Contact details can be found at the foot of this agenda.
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It was reported that eleven members of the public had registered to speak under Public Participation in relation to the Public Interest Report (PIR) at Agenda Item 3.
Gwen Swinburn expressed concerns regarding the conduct of senior council officers, and urged Council to reject the officer action plan at Annex B to the report under item 3.
Emilie Knight asked Council to focus on the governance improvements suggested by the PIR rather than on its political aspects, particularly in view of the current pandemic.
Verna Campbell, a former Sheriff of York, spoke in support of Cllr Aspden, stating she had known and worked with him since 2003 and, contrary to reports in the press, he had never bullied anyone.
Philip Goldenberg, a retired solicitor and former standards committee member, expressed concerns about Mazars’ interpretation of the Code of Conduct and of the payment to the former Chief Executive.
Ann Reid, a former councillor, disputed suggestions that decisions had been taken in secret and references to allegations of bullying, and said York was a well-managed authority.
Diane Geogheghan-Breen drew attention to the auditors’ concerns about the payment to the former Chief Executive, and said Cllr Aspden had put his personal politics above the people of York.
David Ellis said he had been involved in politics for 40 years and expressed disappointment at the conduct of Cllr Aspden, supporting those calling for the Leader’s resignation.
Alistair Graham, a former Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, drew attention to the Nolan principles and the issues relevant to the discussion; namely, accountability and leadership.
Dafydd Williams, a former councillor, called on Cllr Aspden to resign on the grounds that he had breached the Nolan principles and brought the council into disrepute.
Johnny Hayes, a former councillor, criticised the officer response to the PIR as inadequate, and said he hoped there would be cross-party support for positive change.
Robert Gordon said the mistakes set out in the PIR had been blown out of proportion and urged Council to vote to implement the action plan at Annex B.
To receive a report that responds formally to the Public Interest Report recently issued by the Council’s external auditor.
Council received a report of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) that responded formally to the Public Interest Report (PIR) recently issued by the Council’s external auditor, Mazars.
Members were invited firstly to ask questions of the representatives of Mazars in attendance at the meeting in relation to the factual content of the PIR.
On conclusion of the question and answer session, the Lord Mayor moved, and Cllr Ayre seconded, the following recommendations contained in paragraph 4 of the report of the COO:
“Members are asked to:
i. Accept the recommendations of the Public Interest Report presented by the external auditor.
ii. Approve the action plan that is attached as Annex B.
iii. Agree that the Audit and Governance Committee receive updates on implementation of the Action Plan.”
After some debate on the recommendations motion, Cllr Douglas moved, and Cllr Galvin seconded, a motion to suspend Standing Orders 10.2 and 23.1 to enable a motion of no confidence to be moved without notice.
A named vote was taken on this motion, the result of which was a unanimous vote in favour of the motion, with no abstentions. The motion to suspend Standing Orders was therefore declared CARRIED.
[The meeting was adjourned for a break from 7:58 pm to 8:14 pm]
Debate on the original recommendations then resumed. On conclusion of the debate, a separate named vote was taken on each of the three recommendations, with the following result:
All Members voted in favour of this recommendation, which was therefore declared CARRIED.
The above recommendation was therefore declared CARRIED.
All Members voted in favour of this recommendation, which was therefore declared CARRIED, and it was.
Resolved: That the recommendations contained in paragraph 4 of the report of the Chief Operating Officer be approved.
[The meeting was adjourned for a break from 9:14 pm to 9:23 pm]
Motion of No Confidence
Cllr Myers then moved, and Cllr Doughty seconded the following motion without notice:
“Council notes the findings of its independent external auditor’s Public Interest Report (PIR) and the significant role played by the council leader in removing the council’s former Chief Executive from their job.
Council concludes from the report’s findings that the officer’s removal was for reason other than their ability to effectively do their job - at significant avoidable cost to the local taxpayer.
Council further notes from the independent PIR ... view the full minutes text for item 111.