Hartlepool Mayor survives ‘no confidence’ motion

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.

HARTLEPOOL’S Ceremonial Mayor survived calls that he face a vote of no confidence by councillors.

Labour Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher was the subject of a motion tabled by six opposition members at last night’s full council meeting.

I have no confidence in him. I would argue the vast majority of Hartlepool residents have no confidence in the man.

Councillor Geoff Lilley

But the motion was lost by 20 votes to seven.

Coun Akers-Belcher left the council chamber before the motion was debated to chants of ‘out, out’ from the public gallery who held up red cards.

The motion was tabled by Putting Hartlepool First councillor David Riddle and backed by party colleagues Keith Dawkins, Geoff Lilley, Kelly Atkinson and independents Paul Thompson and Jonathan Brash.

Coun Riddle lodged the motion after taking exception to Coun Akers-Belcher’s stance towards members of the public at a heated extraordinary council meeting he chaired on February 16.

The meeting, when councillors rejected a motion by Coun Riddle for the council to withdraw all co-operation with hospital bosses, descended into chaos and had to be halted for 10 minutes.

The motion for a vote of no confidence in Coun Akers-Belcher was also made following a row at a council meeting on February 26, over whether Coun Akers-Belcher had adjourned or closed the previous meeting.

Coun Riddle said: “This is not about personality politics as our chairman alleged it was. Pure and simple this is about morality. It is not right to begin a meeting by warning tax paying members of the public that a meeting will be closed if they voice their displeasure. That’s being deliberately confrontational.”

Coun Jonathan Brash said: “It’s clear to me that Stephen Akers-Belcher is not fit for purpose when it comes to chairing council meetings.”

Coun Geoff Lilley said: “I have no confidence in him. I would argue the vast majority of Hartlepool residents have no confidence in the man.”

Coun Ray Martin Wells said: “I will not support a vindictive motion than can only be described as a final act of desperation.”

Couns Pamela Hargreaves, John Lauderdale and George Springer abstained.

Paying tribute to councillors and officers over the last year after re-entering the chamber, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “As we know people don’t always agree, tonight is testament to that and certainly there are issues about working relationships.”