Councillor is reported over A&E leaflet

Councillor Geoff Lilley. Picture by FRANK REID
Councillor Geoff Lilley. Picture by FRANK REID

ANGRY councillors have reported a fellow member to the standards committee over his role in a leaflet put out across Hartlepool accusing them of not doing enough to save the A&E department.

Independent councillor Geoff Lilley has been reported to Hartlepool Borough Council’s standards committee by the health scrutiny forum.

It comes after the other eight members were singled out in the leaflet which accused them of “collaborating” with health officials rather than fighting to save the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The issue came to a head at a meeting of the forum yesterday.

One councillor even called for Coun Lilley to be suspended from the forum.

The councillors pictured on the leaflet were Labour councillors Chris Simmons, Stephen Akers-Belcher, Sheila Griffin, Kaylee Sirs, Jean Robinson and Linda Shields, Conservative group leader Ray Wells and Liberal Democrat leader Arthur Preece.

Coun Lilley, who has previously confirmed that he contributed towards the cost of the leaflet, was the only forum member not to appear.

At the start of the meeting, Coun Preece said: “The leaflet names eight members and yet the member that has initiated it is still free to continue as a member of the forum.

“I do not think that is workable.

“It is unprecedented and it is such a serious violation of the code of conduct that I think it warrants reference to the monitoring officer and the standards committee.

“Can Coun Lilley’s membership on this forum be suspended until the issue has been dealt with?”

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chair of the health scrutiny forum, adjourned the meeting to discuss the issue with the legal department.

After an hour, the meeting eventually got underway and Coun Preece again called for the forum to submit a complaint.

Coun Simmons, Labour group leader, added: “It clearly affects the trust and the respect that councillors should have for each other.”

All members – with the exception of Coun Lilley – voted in favour of sending the complaint.

Members then voted in favour of continuing with the meeting, a move described as “strange” by Coun Lilley.

In response, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “Members have expressed their concern at your attendance and I wanted to check that we were prepared to continue.”

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Lilley, said: “There appears to be a conflict with my views, which I believe to be the views of the majority of the people of Hartlepool, and the rest of the committee.

“I fail to see the reasons behind their attempt to have me suspended from the forum.

“I look forward to the evidence that is presented, I don’t have a problem with that.”

The A&E department closed on August 2.

It was declared unfit for purpose after an independent review by health professionals, academics and councillors from the health scrutiny forum back in March.

The changes are part of the Momentum: Pathways to Healthcare programme being led by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Patients in need of emergency attention are being dealt with at the £20m One Life Hartlepool, in the town’s Park Road.