Hartlepool council rejects call for EU referendum debate

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

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Hartlepool council will not hold a debate to decide where the authority stands on the European referendum debate.

Councillor Jonathan Brash tried to put forward a motion that Hartlepool Borough Council states it backs the country’s continued membership of the European Union.

Common sense dictates we can debate this

Councillor Jonathan Brash

But the motion was ruled out of order by the council’s chief solicitor Peter Devlin.

Councillors also voted against an alternative motion that the council organises a debate on the issue, with many saying it was up to individuals to decide which way they will vote on June 23.

Speaking at the last full council meeting, Coun Brash said: “I believe we should make a public statement supporting this idea.

“It is an anathema to me somehow elected politicians, local or national, should somehow be prohibited from making their views on this most important of matters known.

“I believe the majority of elected representatives want us to stay in the EU. We should say so.”

Mr Devlin said the council should not use resources to support any particular political group, adding the national referendum debate had become “highly- politically charged”.

But Coun Brash said a precedent had been set by Havering council in London, which became the first publicly-elected body in Britain to vote to leave the EU.

“Common sense dictates we can debate this,” he added.

During a debate on the alternative motion that the council facilitates a debate on the issue, Labour councillor Jim Ainslie said: “I will be voting ‘yes’ on June 23, but against this motion.”

Seaton councillor Tom Hinds of UKIP said: “On June 23 the referendum to stay in or leave the EU will be for every person who lives in the UK, and it is not necessary for this council to decide or debate.”

Other councillors supported debate on the issue, but said it should not be within the confines of the council chamber.

The motion was lost.