THE chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council has slammed the “irresponsible” people who sabotaged an online auction and cost town charities thousands of pounds.
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher has been left “frustrated and disappointed” after the ebay auction for a James Brown doll, made famous by Hartlepool-born Jeff Stelling, was ruined.
After 10 days of bidding, the top bid for the singing and dancing doll was in excess of £140,000.
But when Hartlepool Council contacted the highest bidder and dozens of other bidders, they all refused to pay up.
One bid, at £7,000, was genuine but by the time Coun Akers-Belcher and council staff had worked through the list, the bidder thought he had missed out and donated the cash to other charities.
Coun Akers-Belcher has now been forced to put the doll on eBay yet again, this time at a buy-it-now price of £1,500 – £5,500 less than what could have been raised to support seven town charities.
“The bidding showed so much potential to genuinely raise a lot of money,” a disheartened Coun Akers-Belcher told the Mail.
“It saddens my heart that people would go out of their way to disrupt the bids and the money we are trying to raise.
“We have had to compromise. £1,500 is still a lot of money but there is a big difference between that and £7,000.
“One thousand pounds each for the charities would have made such a difference, it’s a lifeline for them.
“The people who have done this are just really irresponsible.”
The money raised from the doll will go towards the Belle Vue Youth project, Central Correctors, Hartlepool Young Carers, Nurturing Young People’s Development (NYPD), The Phoenix Funsters, The Rifty Youth Project and the Wharton Annexe.
Sky Sports presenter Jeff made the doll famous as he regularly unleashed it on to his desk in celebration of the singer’s namesake scoring for Hartlepool United.
But when James Brown left Pools for Gateshead in the summer, Jeff decided to find a new home for the 20-inch doll and after Coun Akers-Belcher got in touch, he agreed to help the council chairman in his charity efforts.
And despite the frustrating ebay bids sabotage, Coun Akers-Belcher remains defiant and dedicated in his bid to raise cash.
He added: “This just makes me more determined to support these town causes and raise as much money as possible.”
The doll can be seen on ebay by searching for Jeff Stelling James Brown doll.