Mixed reaction to cabinet sackings

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COUNCILLORS from other political groups have given a mixed reaction to the cabinet cull.

Conservative group leader Ray Wells said: “It is time to sit back and take a serious look at the predicament Stuart Drummond has left the people of Hartlepool in.

“Firstly Stuart decided to continue with his South African trip, leaving the cabinet without a leader at a crucial time in the budget setting process.

“Now, having lost face in a crucial vote I believe that he had a knee-jerk reaction in sacking 75 per cent of his cabinet.

“Giving his two remaining cabinet members extra portfolios still leaves four positions unoccupied.

“For Stuart to indicate that he will personally fill these time-consuming roles is, in my opinion, utter madness.”

He questioned how Mayor Drummond could manage the position of mayor, chairman of the Cleveland Police Authority and the extra portfolio responsibility.

Liberal Democrat group leader Arthur Preece, who said he was “surprised” at the move, said: “My worry is the situation we find ourselves with now.

“We are left with an under-qualified and grotesquely overpaid elected mayor and two members within the cabinet.

“I can understand the argument between him and the other members of the cabinet, but it is far from an ideal situation.”

Coun Preece added he had become increasingly “alarmed” at the “collective judgement” of the cabinet in recent months.

But councillors from the Putting Hartlepool First group have praised Mayor Stuart Drummond for sacking the Labour members over their failure to support the cabinet’s budget.

Hartlepool First leader, Coun Geoff Lilley, said: “After a year of meetings these Labour councillors agreed a budget.

“However, when the party said ‘no’ these same councillors apparently gave up without a fight.

“It reminded me of the hospital saga.

“When the Labour government decided Hartlepool hospital had to close then the Hartlepool Labour councillors never uttered a word of protest.

“For them it’s party first every time.”

Coun Lilley added that if the cabinet could not support the budget then they should have resigned.

He added: “This whole sorry mess shows yet again that party politics should have no place in local government.”