Ripon Councillor convicted for fraud to lead finance committee

Picture shows Ex Mayor of Ripon Andrew Williams at Leeds Crown Court, the mayor had a gambling habit when he pocketed �220 of takings from an ice cream van during his community celebrations of the Queens Diamond Jubilee, Senior councillor Andrew Williams allegedly depended on loans from pay day lenders to tide him over while serving as Ripons mayor in 2012.'See Ross Parry copy RPYICECREAM''Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

Picture shows Ex Mayor of Ripon Andrew Williams at Leeds Crown Court, the mayor had a gambling habit when he pocketed �220 of takings from an ice cream van during his community celebrations of the Queens Diamond Jubilee, Senior councillor Andrew Williams allegedly depended on loans from pay day lenders to tide him over while serving as Ripons mayor in 2012.'See Ross Parry copy RPYICECREAM''Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

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Convicted councillor Andrew Williams has been elected as chairman of the city council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee.

During the first Full Council meeting since the Independent’s gained control of the city council, Coun Williams was elected to take charge of the committee from the outgoing Alan Skidmore.

Concerns were raised by Conservative councillors over the appointment of Coun Williams due to his conviction for fraud last year after stealing £220 of public money at the city’s Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

While the former Mayor was spared jail, he was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community work as well as a 12-month supervision order to address his gambling problem.

Coun Stuart Martin (Con) argued that as this 12-month supervision order was not yet spent, it was not in the city’s best interest to elect Coun Williams as chairman. He said: “I have said that the Conservative group was happy to work with anybody if it was in the best interests of Ripon.

“However, we did not believe electing Coun Williams to the position of chairman was in the best interests of Ripon. We stood in the election on a strap line of honesty and integrity so we didn’t feel we could support him, especially as we had our own candidate that we put forward.

“I’m not sure how the residents will feel about this. I’m disappointed Andrew did not stand aside and let our candidate take the position.

“I’m sure the residents will make their feelings known over the coming days and weeks.”

However, Coun Peter Horton (Ind) stood by Coun Williams and said he had the right experience to make him the best candidate for the job.

He said: “Coun Williams has put in many years of work on this council and saved them a lot of money.

“He got the precept frozen and has agreed with Harrogate to take over the leisure centre.

“He knows what he’s doing in that role, there’s no-one else from our group with the right sort of experience to do that.

“He has agreed he will not be a cheque signer and all the finances are run by the clerk so really the job is making policies and the Independents supported him.”

Coun Williams did not respond when approached for a comment.