A PAIR of Hartlepool councillors who resigned from the local Labour Group in a row over public questions have now been excluded from the national party.
Councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves have been informed by the National Labour Party that their membership has been removed.
The pair resigned from the Labour Group on Hartlepool Borough Council after voting against proposals supported by the Labour Group to scrap supplementary questions at full council meetings.
Labour group leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is also council leader, said: “This ends any doubt the electorate may have about their connection with the Labour Party we are proud to represent.
“The couple have attempted to portray themselves as something they are not and we have the support of our party both locally and nationally confirming their expulsion.
“The local Constituency Labour Party have also condemned their behaviour and resolved full support for Hartlepool Labour Group and their leadership.”
Coun Akers-Belcher said if the pair have any “moral conscience” they would face the electorate through a by-election “as they represent no-one but themselves”.
Couns Brash and Hargreaves, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as independent on the council website, won’t be appealing the decision. A joint statement said: “Hartlepool residents should know that while publicly stating that we’re ‘all in it together’, the unelected leader has spent his first week in office ensuring that we cannot be involved in any level of decision-making.
“Our ‘exclusion’ from the Labour Party is a technicality based on our decision not to be part of the local Labour Group, despite actually being asked to re-join by the national party.
“It is a matter of conscience for us both – we cannot remain part of a Labour Group whose leadership bans public questions, defends councillors who fail to pay the minimum wage, refuses to suspend members arrested on suspicion of theft and perverting the course of justice, votes for their own 300 per cent salary increases, increases councillor travel expenses above HMRC recommendations and carries on petty squabbles instead of getting on with improving our town.
“Our question is, is there even a real Labour Group to re-join in Hartlepool?
“The people of Hartlepool are waking up to what’s going on so the next 12 months should be interesting.
“We remain proud of our Labour values and principles, which they have abandoned, and will continue to fight for those principles as Independent Labour.”