Hartlepool Mayor position to be decided by vote tonight

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher

THE position of Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor is set to be decided tonight with at least two councillors vying for the post.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher has held the position for the past two years and has raised £83,000 for various town charities during that time.

But he will tonight be going toe-to-toe with independent councillor Paul Thompson for the title.

Coun Thompson, of the Seaton Ward, confirmed he would be putting his name forward at Tuesday night’s meeting of full council and confirmed if he was elected he would forego the special responsibility allowance (SRA) that comes with the post.

The SRA for ceremonial mayor is £5,825.

Councillors will vote tonight at the annual meeting of council for the ceremonial mayor and deputy ceremonial mayor for the coming municipal year.

The meeting will take place at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, and dignitaries from across the region will be in attendance.

Other candidates could still step forward, but Coun Akers-Belcher and Coun Thompson have confirmed they are standing for the role of ceremonial mayor which involves chairing meetings of full council and representing the town and council at various functions.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Coun Thompson said: “I won’t be in attendance on Thursday as I am having surgery, but if I was successful in challenging the chairmanship of council I would do the role at zero special responsibility allowance.”

Coun Akers-Belcher, of Manor House ward, confirmed he was standing and told the Mail: “Over the last two years I have raised £83,000 for charity and I would like to continue that work while also helping to promote the town.

“I have done a lot of work in that regard and I see that as a key part of the role.”

If elected, Coun Akers-Belcher’s four chosen charities for this municipal year would be Miles for Men, Hartlepool and District Hospice, RNLI and the Great North Air Ambulance.

Over the past 12-months he has supported Macmillan Cancer Support, Pansies Breast Cancer Support Group and the Denise Taylor Cancer Trust and prior to that helped raise vital funds for seven other town charities.

The annual council takes place at 7pm in the council chamber.