Party explains cabinet snub

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HARTLEPOOL Labour Group says it did not put any of its councillors forward to join Mayor Stuart Drummond’s new Cabinet because voters lack confidence in the system.

Mayor Drummond has unveiled his proposed new Cabinet, which will be responsible for taking decisions of major importance.

But the Labour group, which holds the majority seats on the council at 21, did not propose any of its councillors to sit on the body.

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It comes after Mayor Drummond, who asked for expressions of interest from councillors, axed six Labour members from the Cabinet earlier this year.

This followed their failure to support their own budget proposals.

The Labour group says it found little or no confidence in the Mayoral system from voters during their election campaign .

But it has vowed to hold the council to account in other ways.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of the Hartlepool Labour Group, said: “We feel we have no option but to support the mandate given to us from the people of Hartlepool to hold the Cabinet to account.

“This will allow us to achieve our aims and objectives.

“We have listened to our electors and are confident that through scrutiny and probity we can achieve better outcomes for the people of Hartlepool.”

Mayor Drummond has appointed three independent councillors to form the new-look set up.

They are councillors Cath Hill and Paul Thompson (Seaton Carew) and John Lauderdale (Burn Valley).

Mayor Drummond said, as independents, they will not have to worry about party politics in coming to their decisions.

He said: “I believe I have an incredibly strong Cabinet for the tough year ahead and we are all really excited facing up to the challenges that lie in wait.”

Mayor Drummond is also currently working on setting up a “community advisory panel” made up of people from outside the council with expertise in a variety of fields.