Labour pair suspended

Councilors Jonathan Brash and Pam Hargreaves
Councilors Jonathan Brash and Pam Hargreaves
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A PAIR of Labour councillors were suspended for failing to support group proposals for a new council constitution.

Hartlepool councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves were suspended for seven days pending an investigation after the meeting of the full council on March 6, at which they voted against proposals supported by the Labour Group to scrap supplementary questions at meetings.

It is Labour Group policy, set by the national executive committee, for a member to be suspended for seven days pending an investigation, if they go against a group decision.

The seven day suspension has now been lifted but it is understood the investigation is ongoing.

Coun Brash, who wasn’t available for comment yesterday, represents the Burn Valley ward and Coun Hargreaves the Victoria ward.

In a letter sent to residents after the meeting, Coun Brash said: “Following the Mayoral referendum and the decision to re-introduce a committee system, the council has been putting together a new constitution for the local authority.

“Whilst I agree with 95 per cent of the new arrangements within the new constitution, I am at odds with my fellow Labour colleagues on a number of issues.”

In the letter Coun Brash said it is a “fundamental right” of the public to be able to ask questions and challenge their elected representatives and said he saw “no reason at all to remove this right from the public”.

He also said he wanted to see a clampdown on councillor expenses and a reduction in the car mileage allowance available to members.

The letter adds: “I will, of course, continue to work hard as your councillor and I apologise to you if you feel that I have let you down but this was a matter of principle for me and I hope you understand.”

Labour group leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher said the issue is now in the hands of the Labour Group’s chief whip, Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, but was unable to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Hartlepool Borough Council needed to agree the constitution for the new system ahead of the mayoral system being axed in May.

Currently, the public can ask their question and follow that up with two supplementary questions but from May they will no longer be able to ask follow up questions.