York Council secret meetings still taking place

It seems that the newly “balanced” York Council still has a lot to do to lift the curtain of secrecy that descended in 2011.

Two meetings took place last week for which no notice had been given. Supporting papers and the decision taken were published on the Councils web site within minutes of each other.

Behind closed doors logo

Although not of concern to large numbers of residents, those who are affected did deserve the opportunity to make representations

We can see no reason why the agenda for any formal delegated decision cannot be published on the Council’s web site 7 days before the matter is considered. We would expect that written representations would be welcomed with the formal decision then being published with a link to any written comments.

The Councils governance committee will consider the issue of transparency at its meeting on Wednesday.

It includes a list of demands, by opposition Councillors who now hold a Council majority, on transparency issues together with a response by the Labour Leader

The first item on the list covers decisions delegated to Councillors

An end to Cabinet Member behind-closed-doors decision sessions – all reports to be published in advance, a date set for meetings (not a one month window) and residents should be able to feed into the decision process.

Although the Council Leader has apparently supported this proposal, it seems that delegation to officers is now being substituted. No notice of pending decisions of this type is being given.

The two decisions taken in private this week were:

  • Closure of an alley between Stanley Street and Warwick Street because of complaints about anti social behaviour
  • Allocation of “free” days for the use of the Barbican. Here the report fails even to mention the criteria used to determine that the days should be allocated to the “York Irish Association” and the “Prima Vocal” ensemble. It is also unclear how, or even if, the Council advertised the availability of these days.

Mansion nightclub to open until 6:00am

NB. The decision of the licensing committee to allow the Mansion club on Micklegate to stay open until 6:00am will raise eyebrows. Given the increasing problems with public order in the city centre, and an objection by the Police to the proposal, most would have expected the application to fail. The owner of the club is the Tory candidate for Heworth Without in the forthcoming Council elections. The three members who sat in judgement were all Labour Councillors (surprisingly no LibDem, Green or Independents were asked to take a view). The proposal was apparently aimed at accommodating the needs of “racegoers” although, so far, only a local student magazine has welcomed the decision. Strangely the Council chose not the “web cast” this controversial meeting.

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