Row breaks out over council committees

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A POLITICAL row broke out last night after Hartlepool Borough Council’s second largest group failed to win key seats on a number of influential committees.

The newly-formed Putting Hartlepool First party, which won four seats in this month’s election, lost out to Conservative and Labour members for the positions of chairman and vice chairman on three council committees.

Leader of Putting Hartlepool First, Councillor Geoff Lilley, accused councillors of failing to follow rules on proportionality.

Many of the posts for committees had been agreed before last night’s meeting, but three were contested.

Conservative councillor George Morris won votes among councillors to serve as chairman of the licensing committee and vice chairman of planning, after going up against Putting Hartlepool First’s Allison Lilley and Geoff Lilley, respectively.

Coun Geoff Lilley lost out on the position of vice chairman on the health scrutiny committee to Labour’s Ged Hall.

Councillors also voted in favour of Conservative group leader Ray Wells and Labour’s Carl Richardson to sit on Cleveland Fire Authority, which Geoff Lilley was also put forward for.

Coun Lilley said: “Despite being the second largest majority group, we have come out of this with nothing at all.”

But Coun Wells said: “I do believe the appointments have been completely fair.”

Labour group leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, added: “Putting Hartlepool First were offered the vice chair of the audit committee and they chose not to take it.

“So for them to turn round and say they haven’t been given anything under proportionality isn’t true.”

Putting Hartlepool First will sit as members on many of the council committees.