THE antics of two Hartlepool councillors have been likened to a “playground” incident which could have seen them “told off by the dinner ladies”.
The comment was made by Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, who was chairing a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee, in discussing an investigation into a spat between Councillors Kevin Cranney and David Riddle.
The inquiry was launched after the local authority received several complaints after Coun Cranney said words to the effect of “I’ll see you later” to Coun Riddle at the close of a meeting, which Coun Riddle took to be threatening.
The exchange followed an extraordinary council meeting on October 13 when there was heated debate around a motion to discuss the future of the then ceremonial mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher. One council officer got involved and urged Coun Cranney to “leave it”.
Monitoring officer Peter Devlin investigated the incident and concluded Coun Cranney’s remark of “I’ll see you later” was ambiguous and it was inconclusive whether he had breached the Code of Conduct.
But the committee agreed with his recommendation that the issue be monitored during the year.
Coun Martin-Wells said he was “frustrated” that the matter had used the authority’s time and money.
“I find it frustrating that something that could have happened in the play ground and seen them told off by the dinner ladies, we’ve spent many months investigating,” he said.
Also on the agenda was the controversial sex slur Coun Cranney made to a grandmother at another meeting in March this year, asking her ‘have I slept with you?’
The committee agreed with this second investigation’s recommendations that Coun Cranney must make a public apology for the remarks, and also formally apologise to the victim through Mr Devlin.
Councillors will also now be required to undertake equality and diversity training as a result to try to prevent any future occurrences.