Committees could offer other option

THREE out of four people want to see the committee system put forward as an alternative to the directly elected mayor, according to the results of a major consultation.

The mayoral referendum, which is due to take place on November 15, will ask voters whether they want to retain the directly-elected mayor system in Hartlepool.

But before that Hartlepool Borough Council has to decide which alternative system of running the local authority will appear on the ballot paper.

That led to the launch of a consultation with more than 800 people responding.

An overwhelming 75 per cent were in favour of a committee system being put forward as an alternative form of governance.

By law only one alternative system can be put forward.

The two alternative options are:

l A leader who is an elected councillor;

l Committees made up of elected councillors.

A total of 893 responses were received, 235 on paper and 658 online.

Several checks were put in place to make sure the responses were valid and after that it was found 801 were usable.

Of them, 75 per cent were in favour of the committee system and 25 per cent were in favour of a leader, who is an elected councillor.

The full council is due to meet this Thursday to discuss firm proposals.

A report to the full council meeting said: “In total 893 people responded to the consultation.

“Several checks were put in place to ensure the validity of the final data analysed, these were not designed to validate all responses received due to the timescales involved.

“After these checks were put in place, we were left with a usable response of 801 Hartlepool residents.

“However, in comparing results before and after verifying responses, we can see very little difference.”

Councillors are asked to agree which option they want on the ballot paper and to confirm the referendum will be held on November 15, to coincide with the Police Crime Commissioner election.

Polling stations are likely to be open between 7am and 10pm on the day itself.

The two-week public consultation included information leaflets and posters, online surveys, letters to organisations including residents’ associations and neighbourhood forum meetings.

Mayor Stuart Drummond, who became the town’s first elected mayor in May 2002, has previously welcomed the chance for people to have their say.

The full council meeting is due to take place this Thursday, August 2, in the council chamber at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, at 7pm.