AN annual meeting which gives residents the chance to grill Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond is set to take place after the mayoral referendum, it has been agreed.
Every year Mayor Drummond looks back at Hartlepool Borough Council’s top issues over the previous 12-months and sets outs its priorities for the future at the State of the Borough Debate.
Residents can then quiz the town leader during a question and answer session.
But it has been agreed by councillors at a recent meeting of the full council that this year’s debate will be held after the mayoral referendum and the Police and Crime Commissioner election, both of which are due to be held on November 15.
A report by Nicola Bailey, the outgoing acting chief executive, said: “Guidance has already been issued by the chief solicitor to coincide with the conduct of the referendum and the election on aspects of political neutrality by staff, together with restrictions on publicity and generally upon use of council resources at a time of ‘heightened sensitivity’ characterised during the period of a referendum and/or election.
“Accordingly, the chief solicitor has advised that it would be inappropriate to hold the State of the Borough Debate, until the conclusion of the referendum and election.
“Council is therefore requested to note this advice and allow the elected mayor, in unison with the chair of council, to organise the State of the Borough Debate as soon as is reasonably practicable after the conclusion of the referendum and the Police and Crime Commissioner Election.”
The council’s constitution states the State of the Borough Debate should be held in October of each year on a date and at a place to be agreed with the chair of full council, who is currently Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.
Last municipal year, the debate wasn’t held until January and it took place at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, in Blakelock Road.
No date has yet been set for when the State of the Borough Debate will be held this year.
It is part of the council’s constitution that its elected mayor holds the debate and audience members do not need to submit their question in advance of the debate.
At previous debates Mayor Drummond has fielded questions about the Tall Ships Races, his own role, spending cuts, transport, the University Hospital of Hartlepool and council performance.