It has been revealed that City of York Council spent £45,000 of local taxpayers’ money gaining legal advice linked to Lib Dem council leader Keith Aspden’s costly decision to oust the authority’s former chief executive.

The council’s litany of failings around the process led independent auditors to conclude that the council had made bad decisions for the sake of political convenience, decisions that have cost the York tax payer dearly.

Now a freedom of information request has revealed the legal costs mean the overall bill for the ousting is still increasing:

  • £380k payoff (almost £100k of which wasn’t legally required);
  • £34k for a legally mandated Public Interest Report (PIR) to address failings at CYC;
  • £45k for legal advice for the council leader, and possibly other members of the ruling Lib-Green Executive;
  • £40k just this month from a botched senior management restructure linked to the payoff

Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pete Kilbane said:

“Overall the cost to York residents has reached half a million pounds, just of the costs that we know about at this stage.  Labour believes this is an appalling waste of money and that Cllr Aspden should be paying his own legal bills for the cost of making the court case against him go away.

“National Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said recently that Boris should be paying his own legal bills over his parties in Downing Street, and he’s quite right.  But the Lib Dems can’t have it both ways – if they really believe this then the same must apply here in York”.

The original payoff enabled Cllr Aspden to dodge an Employment Tribunal brought against him personally by the former Chief Exec. News of the latest addition to costs follows stalling by the council, with the authority still refusing to disclose what exactly the legal advice was for.

The secrecy extends earlier efforts by the council to hush up the continuing saga by refusing other freedom of information requests related to the council leader’s spat with the former Chief Executive.

“In the latest budget we’ve seen ruling Lib Dem councillors borrowing and borrowing and saddling the local taxpayer with debt for generations to come”, added Cllr Kilbane.

“This is further evidence that residents’ hard-earned council tax payments are being treated as free money to fritter away as ruling councillors feel. 

“In a period of continuing austerity and major cuts to services, this waste is absolutely unforgiveable”.

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