Convicted city councillor Andrew Williams has stood firm in the wake of mounting criticism at his appointment to chairman of the Finance and General Purpose committee.
Coun Williams was elected to the role on Tuesday, June 2, but residents and councillors raised concerns over his conviction for fraud last August.
The Independent councillor beat competition from Coun Peter Pearson (Con) who then turned down an opportunity to be the vice chairman, to Coun Williams’s disappointment.
Coun Williams has assured residents that not only has he distanced himself from the ‘day to day finances of the council’ but he has the right experience for the position.
He said: “I have previous local governmentexperience and have spent 16 years as a councillor for North Yorkshire Harrogate and Ripon, giving me a distinct advantage over everybody else on the council.
“This job is not about dealing with day to day finances, that is what the clerk is for. I also did not want there to be any concern from members of the public so I am not signing cheques.
“I do not want them to think my desire is handling transactions. My desire is to provide some leadership and experience to the Finance and General Purposes Committee.
“I have taken all steps possible to try and remove myself from the day-to-day finances of the council. I want to help us spend money wisely in the city and get a four-year
financial plan in place.”
However, a number of residents in the city have raised their objections to Coun William’s new role with an online petition created calling for his removal.
The petition has already attracted 464 signatures and its creator, Darren Clare, describing Coun William’s appointment as ‘ludicrous’.
He said: “I was sick of people saying how bad this was and what a shame it was so I thought ‘I’m going to do something about it, hence the petition.
“So far I have not had one person ask why I am doing this. People have been very strong in their support and, like me, they are flabbergasted that we can actually allow this.
“I would like to see him removed from this position. I don’t want any other outcome from this. I don’t want him to have any decision-making power with regards to finances or anything like that.”
Despite the petition, Coun Williams has insisted he will remain and be a success in the role and suggested his critics should have run for the council themselves.
He said: “In a democracy, people are entitled to their opinions. If those people thought they were capable of doing a better job than the current 15 councillors they should have offered themselves.
“I will seek to demonstrate that those who hold a negative opinion are wrong and the work of the chair will work for the good of the city and businesses in the city.
“Let us get on with the task and they will see in four years time that we have done a successful job.”