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Coun Sonja Crisp criticised for not attending Illuminating York meeting
A LEADING York councillor has been criticised for not attending a meeting where she was set to face questions about last year’s Illuminating York event.
Coun Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, was due to appear before one of the authority’s scrutiny bodies this week to provide a recent “progress update” and discuss future plans.
However, in an email ahead of the meeting, Coun Crisp said she had “no idea” she was expected until its agenda was published last week and had not received an invitation from scrutiny officers.
The Labour councillor also said it would have been “impossible to outline priorities” for 2013/14 ahead of the authority’s budget being set.
Members of the learning and culture overview and scrutiny committee said the council’s “work plan” and Coun Crisp’s attendance at a previous meeting should have made her aware she would be asked to attend, claiming she avoided questioning about public criticism of Illuminating York, including a Museum Gardens display designed by comedian Vic Reeves, and the Gunpowder Plod fireworks event at Knavesmire.
“I am not satisfied she has not attended, especially when other cabinet members have attended previously,” Green councillor Dave Taylor told the meeting.
“We want to question and scrutinise their recent work and hear their hopes for the future. I personally wanted to ask questions about Illuminating York and whether the council might seek to get some money back from Vic Reeves for the Museum Gardens debacle.”
Committee chairman Coun Ann Reid said: “It’s unfortunate and disappointing as this meeting was on the work plan early in the municipal year.
“Six months ago, Coun Crisp told the committee she wanted to do certain things, so we wanted to assess how she has got on. Labour says it set a two-year budget last year, so why is she saying she is now going through the budget process?”
Coun Crisp said she was “fully committed to engaging with scrutiny” and had offered to attend the committee’s March meeting.
She said: “Should I be selected to be a cabinet member for another year in May and am invited to attend a future meeting, I look forward to discussing my priorities for the year ahead.
“I’m always available to discuss any pressing issues fellow councillors or residents may have, so they don’t need to wait for a public meeting to raise them with me.”