York’s Standards Committee, which monitors Councillors behaviour, is being asked to support government moves to extend the range of offences which preclude people from standing for election.
There are already a wide range of exclusions including anyone having been convicted of a criminal offence, with at least a 3-month prison penalty, during the previous 5 years. Other disqualifications prevent some Council officials, teachers and bankrupts from seeking election.
The Government now considers that anyone who is subject to sex offender notification requirements, commonly referred to as ‘being on the sex offenders register’, should be barred from standing for election. Residents may have some sympathy with that view.
The government goes further and proposes to exclude anyone who is subject to some anti-social behaviour orders i.e. Civil Injunction or a Criminal Behaviour Order.
However, anyone subject to a dispersal, community protection, public spaces protect, or closure order will be able to seek election. We think there is a case for requiring anyone in this category to reveal the fact in any literature they may distribute when seeking election.
We do not, however, expect to see a mass exodus of “Yoof” in the general direction of the local polling booth.
More serious, though, is the way that in which the Standards Committee is failing its own Council members. Two have been under suspicion of wrongdoing now for three months. They have been (very publicly) sacked from paid jobs on the Executive and have been given no indication when they will have the opportunity to hear any evidence which may be available against them, much less have they had any opportunity to respond.
That simply isn’t good enough.
If the police had any evidence of wrongdoing they would have acted by now.
It is for the Councils own committees to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.
The committee may also wish to look at whether the individual circumstances of other Councillors may have changed since they qualified to stand at the last election.
Essentially Councillors need to have their principal place of residence or work in the Council area and/or own property in the area.
Judging by the councils web site, no fewer than 12 of the 47 Councillors give only “West Offices” as their contact address. All will have had to declare their home address on their nomination forms before being elected, so why the rush for secrecy now?
Gone it seems are the days when a taxpayer could pop a note about an issue through the letterbox of their local representative.
In fairness all the Conservative, Green and Independent Councillors publish their home addresses. All but one of the LibDems also do the same.
Quite why 2/3 of Labour Councillors seem to have gone into hiding is unclear
NB One Conservative Councillor has been offering their home for sale for some months now. Whether this is to allow them to move closer to the ward that they represent hasn’t been revealed. Alternatively they may have moved away from the City.
One Labour Councillor gives neither his home address or a contact Email address on the Council web site!