Agenda and minutes
Venue: The George Hudson Board Room - 1st Floor West Offices (F045). View directions
Declarations of Interest
At this point, Members are asked to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they may have in the 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, that they might have in the business on the agenda.
Cllr Wiseman declared a personal interest, as she knew the Subject Member’s solicitor from the time when they had both been members of City of York Council.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider whether to exclude the Press and Public at any point in the hearing when there is a possibility that exempt information under Paragraph 1 of Schedule 12A to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as revised by The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006) may be disclosed; namely, the identity of any of the witnesses called to give evidence.
Resolved: That the press and public not be excluded from the meeting during consideration of Agenda Item 4 (Complaint about a Member of City of York Council).
Reason: In view of the decision taken in private session before the start of the hearing not to allow a request that Person A’s evidence be heard in private.
At this point in the meeting members of the public who have registered to speak can do so. The deadline for registering is 5.00pm on Wednesday 2 January 2019. Members of the public can speak on agenda items or matters within the remit of the sub-committee.
To register to speak please contact the Democracy Officer for the meeting, on the details at the foot of the agenda.
Residents are welcome to photograph, film or record Councillors and Officers at all meetings open to the press and public. This includes the use of social media reporting, i.e. tweeting. Anyone wishing to film, record or take photos at any public meeting should contact the Democracy Officer (whose contact details are at the foot of this agenda) in advance of the meeting.
The Council’s protocol on Webcasting, Filming & Recording of Meetings ensures that these practices are carried out in a manner both respectful to the conduct of the meeting and all those present. It can be viewed at http://www.york.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/11406/protocol_for_webcasting_filming_and_recording_of_council_meetings_20160809.pdf
It was reported that there had been six registrations to speak at the meeting under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme, all in relation to Agenda Item 4 (Complaint Against a Member of City of York Council).
Gwen Swinburn commented on the state of the Standards process in York, in particular that this and other cases had been mishandled.
Fiona Evans spoke in support of the Subject Member, Cllr Aspden, praising his character and conduct in the context of her work as leader of the Yearsley Pool Action Group.
Cllr Reid also expressed support for Cllr Aspden, both in a personal capacity and on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group, who felt that he had been badly treated in this case.
Amanda Scrimgeour spoke in support of Cllr Aspden as a former colleague and expressed disbelief at the alleged breaches in the light of his workload at the time.
Verna Campbell spoke in support of Cllr Aspden, whom she had worked with for many years on Fulford Parish Council, praising his work as a local representative.
Dominic Hallas, who had worked with Cllr Aspden in local politics, also spoke in his support, describing him as a great employer and friend.
To consider a complaint made against Cllr Keith Aspden, a Member of City of York Council, which has been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.
Details of the procedure to be followed at the hearing can be found at pages 191 to 195 of the agenda papers.
[Note: This agenda has been re-published to include the Decision Notice from the meeting. The Decision Notice will be published as an annex to the minutes at a later stage]
The Panel considered a complaint made against Cllr Keith Aspden, a City of York Councillor. The complaint related to the actions of Cllr Aspden in relation to the recruitment of a council officer.
The matter had been referred to the Hearings Sub-Committee for determination following an investigation.
Introductions were carried out and the procedure for the hearing was explained.
Determining factual disputes
Copies of the investigator’s report and the written submissions received had been circulated to the Panel and to the parties prior to the meeting. During the meeting the Panel took advice from the Independent Person.
The investigating officers presented their report and responded to questions.
The following witnesses responded to questions from the Panel, the Monitoring Officer, the Independent Person, Cllr Aspden’s barrister and the investigating officers:
· Person A
· Person C (Martin Crosby)
· Person D
Cllr Aspden’s barrister presented the Subject Member’s case and responded to questions.
The investigating officers summarised their case.
Cllr Aspden’s barrister summarised the Subject Member’s case.
[The parties, press and public then left the meeting whilst the Panel deliberated in private, returning to hear the Panel’s findings]
The Panel gave consideration to the following allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct:
a) That Cllr Aspden used his position as a councillor improperly to obtain an advantage for an administrative role, contrary to paragraph 3(8) of the Code of Conduct, by reason of his involvement in the recruitment process whilst having a personal interest.
b) That Cllr Aspden disclosed confidential information (the paper applications for the administrative role), contrary to paragraph 3(5) of the Code.
c) That Cllr Aspden, by failing to follow paragraphs 3(5) and 3(8) of the Code in relation to the appointment of the administrative role, acted in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing the Council or his position as a councillor into disrepute, contrary to paragraph 3(7) of the Code.
Having considered the written documentation and the verbal representations made at the meeting, the Panel
Resolved: (i) That, in respect of allegation a), Cllr Aspden did not use his position as a councillor improperly to obtain an advantage for an administrative role, contrary to paragraph 3(8) of the Code of Conduct, by reason of his involvement in the process whilst having a personal interest.
Reason: While the Panel are concerned about how Cllr Aspden came to be involved in the appointment process, they are not satisfied that he had at that time a close association with the successful candidate.
(ii) That, in respect of allegation b), Cllr Aspden did disclose confidential information (about the applications for the administrative role), contrary to paragraph 3(5) of the Code.
Reason: On the balance of probabilities the Panel, faced with two conflicting views, are not sufficiently satisfied that that application forms of candidates for the Executive Support Assistant post were physically taken to the Duke of York pub on the evening of 26 June 2015. But all of those present at that meeting gave evidence that ... view the full minutes text for item 4.