Cabinet to meet for final time

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HARTLEPOOL Borough Council’s cabinet committee is set to meet for the final time ahead of major changes to the way the authority is run.

The meeting will take place tomorrow at 10am in Committee Room B at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.

It will be chaired by directly-elected Mayor Stuart Drummond, who has been in office since 2002.

But his role will cease to exist from next Monday, May 6, after a referendum held late last year in which residents of the town voted to convert to a committee system.

There will be five main committees covering finance and policy, children’s services, adult services, regeneration and neighbourhood services and all will have substantial decision making powers.

Labour councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, who will become the new leader of the council, said: “The new style of governance is about shared responsibility, by all elected members, to plan for the future to meet the collective community aims of our residents.

“With the significant financial challenges we face in Hartlepool we will be required to make some very difficult decisions, but we shall not lose sight of our responsibility to continue the pursuit of equality, accommodate the present conditions but change for what will be an unpredictable future.

“Through all of this, we must retain our vibrant and strong council, whilst shaping the prosperity and prospects of the town.”

There will continue to be two neighbourhood forums – north and coastal and south and central – and the chairs of the five main committees will be expected to attend regular “Face the Public” events.

The changes to the way the council is run will also see the return of a ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool who will be chosen annually from among the councillors to represent the borough at civic functions.