HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond faced a grilling from angry residents over his new role as chairman of the Cleveland Police Authority.
During a heated debate, several residents called on him to justify how he could do both roles and asked him to hand back some of his allowances.
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But Mayor Drummond said he had no intention of “foregoing” any payments and said he was more than capable of doing both jobs.
Mayor Drummond receives £19,940 for being chairman of Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) on top of £8,375 that all CPA members receive on a yearly basis. He also receives a special responsibility allowance of £58,135 for his role as town leader, in addition to a £5,767 basic allowance which all councillors receive.
Mayor Drummond was speaking at the annual State of the Borough debate, held at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, in Blakelock Road.
Resident Fred Corbett asked: “How can the Mayor justify taking on the chairmanship?” To which Mayor Drummond responded: “What do I have to justify?”
He said in the constitution the Mayor has to do three things; hold an annual debate and attend the remembrance service and the council’s civic church service.
Mayor Drummond, who said he also oversees the council’s budget and policy framework, added: “There is nothing to prevent me doing anything else.
“I could run a business or 10 if I wanted to.”
He admitted time management was a “challenge” but said he is often wanted in four or five places anyway and technology meant he could respond to emails any time of day.
Mayor Drummond, who said the allowances are set by an independent panel, added: “I am not in this post for an easy life. If I didn’t think I could manage I wouldn’t do both.
“The only thing that is being affected is my family life and not seeing my wife as much, but that is for me to sort out.
“If somebody can back up the claims that I can’t do two jobs with proof then I would willingly look at it.”
In response, Mr Corbett said his work with the CPA would be “detrimental” to his role as Mayor.
Mayor Drummond said audience members were making assumptions about his diary.
Regarding his mayoral allowance, he added: “I didn’t put myself through elections for the money; it is not about the money.
“I accept it is a good allowance but the level of responsibility reflects that.”
One resident said he didn’t have to accept the CPA allowance but the Mayor said he had “no intention” of foregoing any allowance.
He added the sole purpose of putting himself forward as a member of the police authority 18-months ago was to protect neighbourhood policing in Hartlepool.
About 80 people – including around 35 students – listened to Mayor Drummond’s presentation about the council’s performance before an hour-long question and answer session.
The rest of the audience was made up of residents, council officers, college staff, councillors and resident representatives.
In total, the Mayor answered 17 questions but some residents were unhappy shouting out that he was avoiding answering the actual question.
There were also questions about the vote of no confidence in health bosses, the size of the cabinet committee, transport proviion for the proposed hospital at Wynyard and the 2010 Tall Ships Races event.