The appointment of the Chair of the York Labour party, to the same role on the York@Large Board, led to a Freedom of Information request last month.
There have been increased concerns raised nationally about party nominees being appointed to run organisations and companies about which they have little knowledge and no personal democratic mandate.
This culminated in the Paul Flowers case which saw a man, with limited abilities and a dubious personal lifestyle, rise to the top of the Co Op Bank simply because he toed the Labour Party line.
In the 90’s, the Nolan Report aimed to bring transparency to the appointment of representatives on QUANGOS. The principles of openness were accepted by all political parties in York.
Those principles included the need to advertise vacancies on Boards. This included the appointment of “independent” Chairs.
York@Large (Y@L) is a Quango which in turn is a subsidiary of the larger Quango known as “York without Walls” (WOW).
The Board of WOW is also now dominated by Labour supporters and is chaired by James Alexander (the Council Leader)
Y@L essentially seeks to manage the City’s cultural and leisure programmes. It has an interest in tourism although the interface with “Visit York” is hazy to say the least.
Its meeting minutes can be found on the WOW web site A note on the web site currently says that the next meeting will be “held on 11th December 2013”! The meeting agendas do not encourage the public to attend.
There is no public record of the costs that Y@L incurs for Council Taxpayers
In the spring of 2013 the last Chair of Y@L came to the end of her maximum 3 year term of office.
A new Chair (Labour Party activist Patrick Kelly) was appointed at its annual meeting. Strangely no copies of the minutes of that meeting can be found on either the WOW web site nor in the Councils electronic library
So how come the Chair of the local Labour party came to be appointed to this prestigious position?
The Freedom of Information response is evasive, but acknowledges the possible conflicts with the Nolan principles.
Another little known “Board”, which exercises influencing over York’s schools system, is known as the “York Education Partnership”. It is a more open organisation and does publish the minutes of its meetings on the Councils web site.
It also undertakes a statutory role as the official “schools forum”
It has an “independent” chair; the confusingly named David Cameron who hails from Fife in Scotland and who runs his own education consultancy company. He has a background as an Education Director in Sterling.
The appointment was a matter of interest for taxpayers not least because it attracts a fee of £500 a day – capped at £7500 annually – plus expenses.
If these Boards are really necessary, then the Council should make greater attempts to publicise any vacancies that arise.
Any costs incurred should be reported publicly in the same way as payments to Councillors are now reported routinely on the Councils web site.
Perhaps the penny has dropped as the Council has today made the following announcement. Whether launching a recruitment process over the festive period is wise is another matter.
Council’s social enterprise seeks Non-Exec Directors
One of City of York Council’s first social enterprise ‘spin-offs’ is looking to recruit two Non-Exec Directors to join its ranks when it is officially formed in the New Year.
The council has given the go-ahead for its Community Equipment Loan Store and Telecare Service to create a mutual from April 2014 that is majority staff-owned, with the authority continuing to have part ownership.
The team already supports over 3000 vulnerable people and is keen to grow and support many more vulnerable people across the city – helping to make York a great place to grow old.
The company will have a Board of Directors comprising of three staff, and three Non-Exec Directors – one of whom will be from the council. The team is looking to fill the two other Non-Exec Director posts.
The Board will meet 12 times a year for a minimum of two hours a session on a voluntary basis, with the first meeting in February.
The organisation is particularly seeking Non-Exec Directors with expertise in:
- · Commercial Financial expertise and experience
- · Commercial Business/Entrepreneurial knowledge and experience
· Marketing and Communications experience
· Current knowledge of health, social care or community needs
To apply email email@example.com with a copy of your CV, or ring 07824 475368 for further information.
The closing date for applicants is Friday 3 January.