MAYOR Stuart Drummond said: “I think I would be lying if I said the council’s reputation hadn’t been damaged.
“When I am out and about some of the comments are not as positive as they have been in the past.
“Events over the past 12 months have not helped, with the budget process and the party political actions, but the council is still providing extremely good services.
“What the team did recognise is how committed and proud the staff at the council are and that is what we want to build on.”
Mayor Drummond added that vacant posts, such as the chief executive, are now in the process of being filled and he said collaboration work with Darlington Borough Council and Redcar & Cleveland Council was stepping up in pace.
Mayor Drummond said he was interested to have a closer look at the review team’s findings about “anxieties” around the commissioning of services and grant funding given the strong links between councillors and the voluntary sector.
He said he shared the concerns raised around the governance of the council and conduct of some councillors and said there has been a “hidden agenda” for the past 18 months to get rid of the mayoral system.
Mayor Drummond said: “I very much welcome the review and it is always extremely healthy to have somebody come in with an independent eye. The team was extremely strong and experienced and very impressive when I met them.
“When they presented the initial findings I recognised Hartlepool and most of the stuff they put forward was spot on.
“There were one or two factual points we have raised which they will look at before the final report is published later.”
He added: “It is now time for everybody to have a good look at themselves and start to put a few wrongs right.”
l Mayor on Wednesday: Page 12