New group is ‘doing well’

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THE group leader of Hartlepool’s second largest political group has hailed an “amazing” first year.

Putting Hartlepool First group leader Geoff Lilley was speaking just days before the group holds its first annual general meeting.

The group, which was formed to set party politics aside and to give independents more of a say within the council chamber, was only established in November 2011 but is already the second largest party within the council chamber with five councillors.

Coun Lilley said: “I think we have done amazingly well.

“We managed to put a candidate up in every ward at last year’s all-out election and that took a lot of organising and commitment from supporters.

“The levels of commitment shown is what has impressed me the most.

“To have five elected members in such a short period of time is really good, and it is a major step forward.”

At last year’s all-out election they won all three seats in the new Fens and Rossmere ward thanks to Steve Gibbon, Alison Lilley and Geoff Lilley, while newcomer Keith Dawkins won a seat in the Jesmond ward.

Meanwhile, in October Kelly Atkinson won a seat in the Seaton ward following a by-election taking the group’s total to five councillors out of the 33 available at Hartlepool Council.

Coun Lilley added: “Some of the people that have been elected have had no experience of local government before. Councillor Keith Dawkins is a prime example but he never stops.

“Kelly Atkinson is also finding her feet and getting there.

“I would like to keep the membership that we have got and new people are always welcome to join.”

He said the AGM would focus on making changes to the group’s constitution and financing future elections.

Coun Lilley said the next few years are going to be difficult for the local authority and that the focus has to be on continuing to provide as many services as possible.

He added: “In the past I have been critical of Hartlepool Council for its high spending and for not being very efficient but at the moment it is a different ball game and there have been major changes to the management structure.”

The AGM will be held on Saturday, January 19, at 10am at the Hartlepool Indoor Bowling Centre at Mill House.

The meeting is open to group members and there will be an opportunity for people to renew their membership.