‘One-party’ claim over scrutiny of City of York Council

York Press: . .

A COUNCIL scrutiny group has become a “one-party state” and has failed to ask York’s city leaders to rethink a decision for more than two-and-a-half years, it has been claimed.

Green councillor Dave Taylor claimed political allegiance had neutered the work of City of York Council’s corporate and scrutiny management committee, which decides whether to ask the authority’s Labour cabinet to review key issues “called in” by councillors.

He said the last time an issue was referred back to the cabinet was in April 2011, when the Liberal Democrats were in charge. He said the committee could not function properly because five of its nine members were Labour councillors.

This gave the party a majority if they vote in line with the cabinet, although the committee’s chairman is Conservative councillor John Galvin.

Coun Taylor said: “The council’s main scrutiny committee cannot perform one of its most important tasks – holding the cabinet to account – if there is a majority of Labour members hogging it and never permitting an issue to be sent back.

“They always vote down any motion to send an issue back for further scrutiny. This is a denial of democracy, and it is disappointing that Labour will not only never change its mind on any decision, but will not even consider doing so.

“These are the actions of a one-party state and the public has to understand how autocratic Labour has become in ruling York.”

Coun Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat group leader, said Labour had weakened rival parties’ ability to challenge their decisions by making changes to the scrutiny process in 2011.

He said: “It has led to the current situation where scrutiny is simply not fit for purpose – democratic reform and a change of attitude is needed.”

But Labour group deputy leader Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing: “Council committees are made up of the same party proportions as the full council and in May 2011 people voted for there to be more Labour councillors.”

When the Liberal Democrats had overall control of the council from 2003 to 2007, they had half the councillors on the committee, but Coun Simpson-Laing said that unlike now, they also had the casting vote of a Liberal Democrat chair. She said: “Labour has ensured the chair of this committee is from the opposition and there are no plans to change this. Opposition parties can always scrutinise policy, all they have to do is bring it to the appropriate scrutiny committee for a review.”

Comments (6)

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9:18am Fri 27 Dec 13

Mulgrave says...

On this Council you can be in hot water over the use of Ward Funding for personal projects one year - and chairing an Economic Scrutiny committee the next - enough said.
On this Council you can be in hot water over the use of Ward Funding for personal projects one year - and chairing an Economic Scrutiny committee the next - enough said. Mulgrave

12:05pm Fri 27 Dec 13

Caecilius says...

Given the way in which Jim Jong-Un exercises control over the Labour Group, any "scrutiny" committee with a majority of Labour members can't be anything other than a farce.
Given the way in which Jim Jong-Un exercises control over the Labour Group, any "scrutiny" committee with a majority of Labour members can't be anything other than a farce. Caecilius

12:20pm Fri 27 Dec 13

Dave Ruddock says...

I know nothing will happen, but hope they all remember and plead insanity on the next elections, it always seems any person standing for what ever party always tends to do the complete opposite once in, and worst of all fail to abode by there electort, do us all a favour, try working togeather and stop wasting public, or its an audit of the council by the public, with feet walking , (thinks its footfall ????) oh and labour best start thinking of a new employment oppertunitiys, (best we get the Federation of Planets form Zog ) to run things
I know nothing will happen, but hope they all remember and plead insanity on the next elections, it always seems any person standing for what ever party always tends to do the complete opposite once in, and worst of all fail to abode by there electort, do us all a favour, try working togeather and stop wasting public, or its an audit of the council by the public, with feet walking , (thinks its footfall ????) oh and labour best start thinking of a new employment oppertunitiys, (best we get the Federation of Planets form Zog ) to run things Dave Ruddock

12:12pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Guthred says...

Perhaps the other parties should take note that the electorate aren't stupid, so getting away with this sort of partisan behaviour over some very important economic and civic issues does not give future controlling groups the green light to do the same.

The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountabilty, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric.
Perhaps the other parties should take note that the electorate aren't stupid, so getting away with this sort of partisan behaviour over some very important economic and civic issues does not give future controlling groups the green light to do the same. The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountabilty, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric. Guthred

3:42pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Older Sometimes Wiser says...

"The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountability, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric."

All we need now is an electorate willing to become informed, involved and sufficiently concerned to do their bit for democracy. We have a year to wake up!
"The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountability, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric." All we need now is an electorate willing to become informed, involved and sufficiently concerned to do their bit for democracy. We have a year to wake up! Older Sometimes Wiser

6:53pm Sat 28 Dec 13

Guthred says...

Older Sometimes Wiser wrote:
"The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountability, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric."

All we need now is an electorate willing to become informed, involved and sufficiently concerned to do their bit for democracy. We have a year to wake up!
“Council committees are made up of the same party proportions as the full council and in May 2011 people voted for there to be more Labour councillors.”

This is the most naive and inept statement I've ever seen coming from a Councillor. Scrutiny is not about decision making, but to ensure that checks and balances are in place to confirm that the policies being made are robust. It doesn't matter how many votes you got in the election (just like it does not matter that Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland always win their election every five years). Checks, balances and self-scrutiny are the core essence of every liberal democracy and not "we got more votes than you". If there are other councillors wishing to question policy, it is healthy for you to give way to them so the policies can be examined and reviewed. It is a sure sign of a very weak administration when further scrutiny is blocked and perhaps one of the reasons why some recent key policies have become very unpopular with the citizens of York.
[quote][p][bold]Older Sometimes Wiser[/bold] wrote: "The next local election should be fought and won over democratic accountability, transparency and citizen engagement, the rest is just rhetoric." All we need now is an electorate willing to become informed, involved and sufficiently concerned to do their bit for democracy. We have a year to wake up![/p][/quote]“Council committees are made up of the same party proportions as the full council and in May 2011 people voted for there to be more Labour councillors.” This is the most naive and inept statement I've ever seen coming from a Councillor. Scrutiny is not about decision making, but to ensure that checks and balances are in place to confirm that the policies being made are robust. It doesn't matter how many votes you got in the election (just like it does not matter that Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland always win their election every five years). Checks, balances and self-scrutiny are the core essence of every liberal democracy and not "we got more votes than you". If there are other councillors wishing to question policy, it is healthy for you to give way to them so the policies can be examined and reviewed. It is a sure sign of a very weak administration when further scrutiny is blocked and perhaps one of the reasons why some recent key policies have become very unpopular with the citizens of York. Guthred

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