Hartlepool councillor denies financial interest in arson-hit mansion

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells at Tunstall Court. Picture by FRANK REID
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells at Tunstall Court. Picture by FRANK REID

A LEADING Hartlepool councillor has rubbished rumours he has a financial interest in an arson-hit town mansion.

The town’s Conservative group leader Ray Martin-Wells gave his backing to plans to completely demolish the problematic Tunstall Court last week.

The issue surrounding the future of the much-vandalised building, in the Ward Jackson area of Hartlepool, has rumbled on for several years.

Councillor Martin-Wells, who sits on the council’s planning committee has told the Mail he will not be voting when the application comes before councillors.

The Rural West ward councillor “categorically denied” having a financial interest in the building, instead saying he made the decision because he has “been too involved in the issue to retain a professional distance.”

Coun Martin-Wells told the Mail: “My only interest is helping the residents who have been badly affected by this building in the issue of its future.

“I can categorically deny having any financial interest in the building.”

As reported in the Mail last week Ruttle North East, which owns Tunstall Court, has submitted plans to the local authority to completely demolish the building and erect 14 new houses on the site.

A spokesman told the Mail how the developers were forced into the decision due to the number of arson attacks on the building.

He said demolishing Tunstall Court wasn’t their initial intention but developers no longer think it is safe to keep the building as it is.

Coun Martin-Wells backed the decision saying the building is past the point of refurbishment.

He said: “In the last four years I have not had one resident who is affected by the building come up to me and ask to keep Tunstall Court.

“It’s a danger and the whole site is in disrepair.”

The demolition application was submitted last month and a decision is expected by the end of April.