Revealed: Hartlepool councillor allowances

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

NEW figures reveal exactly what allowances and expenses your Hartlepool councillor has claimed over the last 12-months.

The Hartlepool Borough Council figures reveal allowances and expenses worth a total of £335,731 were paid to town councillors, a saving of £100,000 from the year before.

The figures, which include basic and special responsibility allowances (SRA), relate to the 2012-13 financial year when the local authority had an elected mayor and cabinet system.

But from May, the authority adopted a new constitution with a council leader and committee system with different levels of SRA’s but the basic allowance remains the same at £5,767.

The annual accounts run from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 but the 53-strong list includes several who are no longer serving councillors, many of which were not re-elected at the all-out elections last May.

Former Mayor Stuart Drummond’s figures show he received a basic allowance of £5,767 plus his SRA worth £58,135 but he did not claim anything for other expenses which means his total allowances were £63,902.

Labour group leader Christopher Akers-Belcher’s allowances and expenses totalled £13,411 to carry out his civic duties, which included a basic allowance of £5,767, an SRA of £5,512 and £84 general travel.

His figures also included conference travel worth £167, conference fees of £1,400 and conference subsistence worth £480 but the set conference fees are charged direct to the local authority.

Meanwhile, his partner, Labour councillor and former health scrutiny chairman Stephen Akers-Belcher’s, allowances and expenses totalled £12,258, which included the basic allowance, an SRA of £4,443 and almost identical conference travel, fees and subsistence expenses.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is now leader of the council, explained: “Both myself and Stephen represent this local authority on the National Association of 
Councillors.

“Whenever we attend a conference the authority is charged for us being there and it is put down as our expenses but we don’t see that money.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said there is around five conferences a year, in different parts of the country, which they attend to represent Hartlepool and they feed information back to other councillors.

Former cabinet members, independent councillors Paul Thompson, Cath Hill and John Lauderdale, received their basic allowance plus the SRA of around £5,000 for being part of Mr Drummond’s cabinet.

Meanwhile, Conservative group leader Ray Wells received the basic allowance plus an SRA of £3,461, while former Putting Hartlepool First group leader Geoff Lilley received the basic allowance plus an SRA of £3,079.

Labour councillor Rob Cook received his basic plus an SRA of £5,767 for his role as chairman of the planning committee, while Conservative councillor George Morris received £3,461 for his role as chairman of the licensing committee.

Former chair of the scrutiny co-ordinating committee, Labour councillor Marjorie James’s figures totalled £13,019, which included the basic allowance, an SRA of £5,767, and conference travel worth £75, conference fees worth £1,050 and conference subsistence of £360.

Coun James represented the authority on the National Association of Councillors and was the third delegate at two conferences but Coun James confirmed she didn’t receive that money but it goes next to her expenses amount.

Labour councillor Kaylee Sirs was the other member to attend a conference, in Carlisle in January, as a substitute for Coun James, at a cost of £350 for the conference and £120 on subsistence, and again the authority was charged with the figures going down on her expenses. Councillors can claim for general travel expenses and the highest claimant was independent councillor Keith Fisher, who claimed £447.86.

Coun Fisher said he does not claim for travel expenses in Hartlepool only for his regional expenses, where he represents Hartlepool at health meetings, as champion of the Armed Forces and on the North East Regional Employers Organisation.

He added: “I never claim for expenses incurred in Hartlepool, only for regional duties.”

Other SRAs were also paid to the chairmen of the various scrutiny committees under the previous governance system.

For a full list of what your councillor claimed, see Monday’s Hartlepool Mail.