Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Paul Doughty, has condemned the decision to move this evening's council meeting to virtual proceedings, especially as the emergency laws which allowed this during lockdown have now expired.
Following the last minute change, Cllr Doughty said:
The Conservative Group strongly oppose the moving of Full Council and to online rather than in person, particularly at such short notice. I have asked the Monitoring Officer at City of York Council to provide the legislative powers that allows for this as I believe it may be unlawful.
Regardless, it seems the Liberal Democrats have ‘encouraged’ the Chief Operating Officer into making this decision because several members of their group have Covid. The correct procedure would be for those members to have stayed away from the meeting in the same way anyone unwell would. This smacks of sheer desperation by the LibDems and I don’t understand how they can have the audacity to just abort formal Democratic meetings. They must be concerned that voting at the meeting may not have gone their way. Online meeting votes do not hold legal power and therefore the Chief Operating Officer can handily overrule any democratic decisions deemed ‘wrong’. The York public deserve much better than this.
It appears that this decision has only been made because the Liberal Democrats would have lost their majority if the meeting had been in-person due to illness barring several councillors from attending. In the past, councillor illness has never impacted council proceedings and meetings have simply proceeded with the absences. It is clear that the rule book is being ripped up to benefit the Liberal Democrats rather than allowing the accepted democratic processes to continue to ensure fair representation on behalf of residents.