A PARISH council has passed a vote of no confidence in City of York councillor Jonathan Morley over his stance on the controversial Derwenthorpe scheme.

Osbaldwick Parish Council has also written to York council leader Steve Galloway to deny it ever "smeared" the ward councilor in a newsletter which it circulated in the village.

It also dismissed Liberal Democrat claims that it had spent taxpayers' money on "political activities" when it sent out the newsletter.

Coun Morley has infuriated the parish councilors by refusing to back calls by more than 800 residents for a public inquiry into the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's proposals for a 540-home model village in the area.

The newsletter criticised his stance, and also asked for the views of residents.

Parish council vice-chairman Malcolm Kettlestring said 11 replies were received, ten critical of Coun Morley and one supportive, said . He said that in the motion of no confidence, nine parish councilors voted for and three abstained.

Coun Morley said he believed the parish had misrepresented his position in the newsletter, but he had received phone calls expressing support from three people. He said he had fully explained his position on Derwenthorpe earlier, and claimed the motion was "of no significance constitutionally". Asked if he intended to resign, he said: "No."

In its letter to Coun Galloway, the parish was responding to a Focus leaflet recently circulated in the village by the Liberal Democrat Party, which criticised the parish council's newsletter.

Parish councilors said they had been using funds to keep residents updated on the progress of the Derwenthorpe development, as a substantial number of residents had grave concerns about its impact and wished to know how and when they could air such concerns. "This is not a political activity, and is within the legitimate remit of a parish council," they said.

They said they would vigorously deny having "attempted to or succeeded in discrediting him publicly", which they said was the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of "smear".

"To express an opinion as to the efficacy of the way in which he has chosen to represent his constituents is quite another matter.

"Citizens of a democracy are entitled to express their opinions about public figures."

Updated: 10:19 Saturday, March 26, 2005