Last week an Executive Member in York's Lib Dem and Green coalition took a hugely controversial decision to spend £550,000 on improving the energy efficiency of just eight homes. The scheme was widely ridiculed and Conservative councillors announced a call-in whereby a committee of all parties would give the decision further examination. The Conservative Group Leader Paul Doughty pointed out the spend was totally disproportionate and to address climate change a much broader approach was needed.
It is widely assumed that with the pressure of the Conservative call-in (and apparently a second call-in by Labour councillors) there would probably have to have been a u-turn by the ruling coalition. In an unprecedented development, the Council's Monitoring Officer has quashed the original decision after saying it was made without full financial, equalities and other information. Whether this strange decision was as a result of political pressure or the report was merely of a poor standard, or both, the situation shows the Lib Dem council looking utterly chaotic.
Conservative Group Leader Coun Paul Doughty said, “York Conservatives are astounded to learn about developments of this complete farce but we’re delighted that our call-in request has helped force a rethink about one of the most ludicrous decisions of this Council administration, and it has made plenty in such a short time. How the Executive Member for Housing ever thought that £550K to insulate just 8 homes was ever a good use of public money, we’ll never know.
We just hope the latest development is not just a way of throwing an Officer under the bus to spare the blushes of the LibDem/Green coalition. The report clearly should never have made it to a decision session without satisfactory legal, financial and equalities implications but let’s not forget the Executive Member chose this as her hybrid option over another which would seemingly have benefited 60 homes for the same price as her 8. Scandalous.”