Councillors urged to back review

Hart homes rejected
Hart homes rejected

COUNCILLORS are being asked to back calls for a review of the decision to name Hart village as the preferred location for a permanent gypsy and traveller site.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee opted for Hart Smallholdings West, to the west of Hart village, as their preferred site with Hart Smallholdings East, the back-up option.

The move angered residents and now Putting Hartlepool First has called on councillors to back their move for a review of the decision.

In an email sent to all councillors, Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley, said under rule 27 of the constitution, councillors can refer a decision recently taken by a policy committee to full council for reconsideration.

Coun Lilley was on the finance and policy committee, as a substitute, on the day of the decision and said he questioned the decision to choose the Hart sites at the end of the meeting.

But council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said Coun Lilley cannot “re-write history” and said there was “no dissent” from any member of the committee regarding the two Hart sites being included for consideration.

Coun Lilley’s email said: “If you support this call for a referral to council you must act immediately as the deadline for names is close of council business today.

“We need at least half of the council to support this referral in order for it to be heard.”

Coun Lilley said the decision, among other things “failed to take into account” the professional advice of officers and questioned the “openness” of the decision.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “For clarification I can confirm that there were no meetings prior to the publicised finance and policy committee regarding the decision of a designated site for gypsy and travellers.

“Also in the said committee meeting there was no dissent from any member of the committee in attendance for the inclusion of Hart (East & West sites) for consideration as a designated area by the planning inspectorate.

“This can also be confirmed in the council’s published decision record.

“All sites were sustainable and met the Government criteria with regards to suitability.

“Therefore the decision making has been made in accordance with the principles outlined in the council’s constitution and as such shall stand up to both internal and external scrutiny.”