Labour has condemned a decision to move a crucial meeting to take place online after some Liberal Democrat councillors tested positive for Covid, meaning the meeting isn’t legal and councillors can no longer take any decisions.
Lib Dem Council Leader Keith Aspden has intimated both publicly and in private that his councillors would have to attend the meeting in person with Covid, were it not moved online.
Over the past two years, when councillors have tested positive they have been required to absent themselves, which many have done. However, under pressure from ruling Lib Dem councillors, the council’s top officer has acquiesced and taken the decision to move the meeting online with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Democracy and the rule of law is the main loser, according to Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pete Kilbane, who said:
“This decision has little to do with keeping people safe and everything to do with ensuring the Greens and Lib Dems don’t lose their majority in the council meeting.
“A handful of councillors becoming ill does not warrant the use of emergency powers to cancel the in-person meeting. If other workplaces followed this logic half of York would be shut. If residents are being told to live with Covid then the council must follow the same rules.
“We have been informed that the reality is that if senior officers insisted on this meeting taking place in person then Lib Dem Councillors infected with Covid would attend the meeting. The Leader’s public comments confirm this.
“This is tantamount to using Covid as a threat, casting further doubt over Cllr Aspden’s fitness to lead this great city.
“Once again the Lib Dems show their utter disregard for democracy, treat residents as fools and use their positions on the Council to serve their own ends.
“We promise that if elected next year a Labour Council will govern with openness, honesty and transparency and most importantly we will put the interests of residents first and way above that of party politics”.