Hartlepool Council Labour group unveils new leadership after resignations

Hartlepool Borough Council's Labour group has appointed new leaders.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 10:59 am
Coun Paddy Brown (left) and CounDave Hunter

Labour, the largest political group on the council, has elected a new leadership team after a number of high-profile resignations, including that of leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher

The resignations follow in the footsteps of others, who have left to join the Socialist Labour Party, including Coun Akers-Belcher's husband Stephen; Allan Barclay, who lost his seat in last week's local election after standing for the Socialist Labour Party; and Coun Sandra Belcher, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher's mother.

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Now the party has confirmed that Coun Paddy Brown is the group’s new Leader, while Coun Dave Hunter takes over the role of Deputy Leader.

Coun Brown said: "There can be no mistake, the voters of Hartlepool have registered their unhappiness about the way this council has been run and how politics is conducted in our town.

"They are demanding change and in the Labour Group we are committed to delivering it."

Coun Hunter added: "‘Frankly, I am embarrassed by the conduct of certain councillors and the public has every right to be angry. Thankfully as a Labour Group we have put those people behind us and are going to fight tooth and nail to clean up Hartlepool politics so that the focus of everything we do is on how to improve our town for the residents who live here."

With the council now in ‘No Overall Control’ negotiations about its future leadership as well as the various policy positions, such as committee chairs, has begun.

Coun Brown said: "In order to be part of any coalition the Labour Group requires certain key reforms to create a more open, more transparent and more accountable council."

Coun Brown said: "In order to be part of any coalition the Labour Group requires certain key reforms to create a more open, more transparent and more accountable council."

The Labour Group’s proposed reforms include:

1. A full public inquiry into the leadership of Hartlepool Borough Council since 2013, with a particular focus on financial management and decision-making.

2. A clear policy that excludes councillors from any decisions that benefit companies, charities or other organisation from which any elected member benefits financially.

3. A review of planning processes to ensure that no elected member, past or present, is exercising undue influence on decision-making.

4. Amending the Council’s constitution to make councillors more accountable to the public, including reinstating proper public questions to full council and introducing evening meetings.

5. An immediate and indefinite freeze to councillors’ allowances.

6. That the chairmanship of committees, as well as the role of Mayor and deputy, be distributed on a truly proportional basis to ensure that councillors from all political backgrounds have the opportunity to serve in senior leadership roles.

Coun Hunter said: "These reforms are about improving our council and also the faith local people have in our civic institutions. Public trust has been damaged and it is our duty to restore that trust.

"This new coalition of chaos, made up of Independent Union, Tories and, of course, the Akers-Belchers want more of the same because they are more of the same.’

The Labour Group intends to press all councillors to adopt these reforms in the coming weeks.