Hartlepool’s mayor resigns from under-fire Manor Residents’ Association over ‘lack of transparency’

Stephen Akers-Belcher
Stephen Akers-Belcher

A COUNCILLOR has resigned from the board of the under-fire Manor Residents’ Association over concerns about the “significant” lack of information and transparency around recent employment tribunal cases.

Labour councillor and town mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher has stepped down after the charity was this week ordered to pay almost £4,000 to a second worker, Carl Williams, who wasn’t paid the national minimum wage.

Mr Williams, 25, who is still employed by the charity, had worked for 16-months for as little as £4.42 an hour and also paid tax and national insurance deductions that the HMRC had no record of.

Earlier this year, the Wynyard Road-based organisation was ordered to pay almost £9,000 to former cleaner Lynda Gooding who was also paid under the national minimum wage.

On Tuesday, Coun Akers-Belcher said he wouldn’t resign, but that was before the second employment tribunal.

In a letter to councillor and MRA manager, Angie Wilcox, Coun Akers-Belcher said during his year as a board member he has witnessed “first hand” many of the positive initiatives, but said he feels he can no longer continue as a board member.

Coun Akers-Belcher wrote: “Although as a board member I have asked for change in relation to more information coming to the board meetings e.g. detailed financial reports and administration support, this has only been achieved following my role as a critical friend to the organisation.

“However, I feel the significant lack of information and transparency around the employment tribunal cases has presented me with a situation whereby I was not fully furnished with the facts and details of the cases.

“This has made it very difficult and put me in an untenable position.”

He said the minimum wage and fairness are a “corner stone” of his Labour values.

Coun Akers-Belcher said he will continue to support residents and hopes the association can restore its reputation.