The report raises some concerns relating to decision making in York, and in particular, relating to a redundancy decision for the previous Chief Executive.
The amount in contention in the report is not £400,000, as some have alleged, but considerably less.
Given that Occupational Health had not undertaken a visit it would have been inappropriate to reduce the Chief Executive’s pay to 50% after six months, and we would hope that Labour members would support fairness for all workers, rather than scoring political points.
The redundancy payment was in line with practice at many other councils and saved considerable time in arriving at a conclusion and therefore money, a point not explored in the report.
The report made some recommendations, that York Green Party fully support, and has led to the Council producing an Action Plan to implement those recommendations.
We voted to support the Action Plan.
Astonishingly, the Labour Party members voted against the Action Plan, without proposing any alternative Action Plan, meaning that if we had followed their lead we would not be addressing the issues raised.
Councillor Aspden received senior legal officer advice that it was permissible for him to chair the meeting. However, in the light of circumstantial detail presented in the auditor report it was clearly unwise of him to chair the meeting. As the report made clear, he did not have a financial interest that would have precluded his chairing the meeting and auditors did not state that the decision was unlawful.
We therefore believed that a vote of no confidence is Keith Aspden would have been grossly excessive for the error of judgement that he made, and the auditors did not refer to any evidence of corruption.
We believe that with the Action Plan in place and monitored by the cross-party Audit and Governance Committee and the newly proposed Citizens Advisory Panel the findings of the report will be thoroughly followed through.
We believe we should now rise above the party politics and continue to cooperate with other Parties as we take action in the interest of residents, local businesses and the future good of our city.
Whilst we oppose inappropriate use of non-disclosure agreements, the one that is in place does prevent us from responding to some of the issues raised in the report.