A ruling Lib Dem councillor has been accused of hiding from scrutiny after making a series of public statements, each of which are believed to be untrue.
Lib Dem councillor Paula Widdowson was due to attend a meeting of the council’s Economy and Place scrutiny in January, before stating that she was unavailable. The meeting was then moved at a date she could attend, to which she then failed to attend or give apologies to the Chairperson.
Economy and Place committee member, Cllr Claire Douglas said:
“The council is our own local version of Parliament, where ruling councillors have a statutory duty to attend to be held to account and to explain their policies. National politicians lose credibility very quickly if they dodge parliamentary scrutiny, and the same is true for Cllr Widdowson.
“She has made a number of public claims for which there is either no evidence to back them up, or which are simply untrue. She has claimed York Central will be a carbon neutral development, but to date has been unable to explain how.
“She has claimed a 2030 carbon neutral target for York, while council officers have confirmed in fact this only applies to the council, which accounts for only 3.8% of the city’s carbon emissions. Added to that, her ruling Lib Dem-Green administration has just proposed a £100,000 cut to carbon reduction work next year.
“And Cllr Widdowson has been exposed as operating a weed control policy that kills pollinators in vast numbers, at a time when her administration’s Pollinator Strategy claims it would do the exact opposite.
“It’s increasingly obvious that Cllr Widdowson is seeking to avoid being held accountable for the significant mismatch between her lofty public statements and the reality of the Lib Dems’ flawed policies”.
The council’s main opposition Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pete Kilbane said:
“We’ve known since 2019 what real disregard the Lib Dems have for local democracy, through running down the support function for public meetings to stacking committees to ensure they are over-represented.
“And when it comes to public pledges, the Lib Dems on York council are like the opposite of Ronseal; they do exactly the opposite of what they say on the tin. Honesty and credibility have become real problems for them”.
Both York Central and a Carbon Reduction Update were agenda items for February’s Economy and Place Scrutiny meeting.