Hartlepool politician dismayed at lack of referendum on hospital

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A COUNCILLOR says he feels let down by colleagues who voted against holding referendums in efforts to bring services back to Hartlepool’s hospital.

Putting Hartlepool First leader Coun Keith Dawkins says politics were put before the wishes of the people.

Independent councillor Jonathan Brash put forward a motion for a referendum on a vote of no confidence in hospital trust leaders at an extraordinary meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council on Thursday night.

But it was defeated by 19 votes to 11.

The meeting was held to discuss the outcome of the recent meeting between Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and councillors with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ask for help in returning services to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Another proposal for a referendum to be held once a new local health plan is completed was lost on Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher’s casting vote.

Coun Dawkins, who was part of the cross-party delegation meeting with Mr Hunt, said: “My understanding was we were going to do our best for the people of Hartlepool to get the hospital back.

“I thought it was nothing to do with politics, we were all working together.

“I thought they would have worked with us the same way I worked with them. I am devastated and upset about it.

“There was nothing vindictive in the motion, it was an honest suggestion. I don’t know why it was rejected.”

In putting forward the motion for a referendum of no confidence in the trust, Coun Brash said it would strengthen the case against North Tees and Hospital Foundation Trust leaders with the watchdog Monitor.

But Labour group leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said referendums would delay progress on the plan, adding: “The people who we represent already know that they don’t have faith in the hospital trust, so why would we spend £140,000 when we have some of the most deprived wards in the country and have just experienced 40 per cent budget cuts to find out what we already know?

“It would be a waste of public funds.”

Also following the meeting, a complaint has been made against comments allegedly made by Labour councillor Kevin Cranney.

Coun Cranney, who serves the Foggy Furze ward alongside Christopher Akers-Belcher and Kaylee Sirs, was present at the meeting on Thursday night, voting on all motions heard.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received a complaint about comments allegedly made by Councillor Kevin Cranney following Thursday night’s extraordinary council meeting.

“The complaint will be investigated by the chief solicitor Peter Devlin in his role as the council’s Monitoring Officer when he returns to the office next week.”

The Mail has attempted to contact Coun Cranney, who is vice-chairman of the Regeneration Services Committee, about the allegations, but has had no reply from him.