Long-serving Hartlepool councillor to be deselected

Councillor Robbie Payne
Councillor Robbie Payne

A LONG-SERVING councillor has been told by his party that he will not be put up for election next year.

Robbie Payne has been deselected by the local Labour group and will therefore not be standing for the party when the local elections take place next May.

Coun Payne, who represents the Headland and Harbour ward, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, but has vowed to continue to work hard for residents in his final seven months as a councillor.

The Labour Group held a secret ballot over the issue, and nominated Sylvia Tempest as their preferred candidate over Coun Payne when the seats go up for grabs next year.

Mrs Tempest previously served as a councillor in the De Bruce ward for three years before standing down in March this year prior to the most recent elections after becoming frustrated with the budget cuts affecting the council.

Coun Payne would not be drawn on his future plans, though he would have the option of either approaching another party or to go independent should he wish to continue as a councillor.

Coun Payne said: “I am extremely disappointed to be de-selected but respect the democratic process that has led to this decision by Labour Party members in the Headland and Harbour ward.

“I would like to thank all of the residents of the ward for their support over the years, and I want to reassure them that I will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf right up until next year’s election.”

Coun Payne was first elected in 1995 in the Stranton Ward and subsequently became a councillor in the new Headland and Harbour ward in 2012 following a town-wide review of ward boundaries.

A former deputy to directly-elected Mayor Stuart Drummond, an ex-cabinet member and the current chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration services committee, he added: “I now intend to take a bit of time to reflect, before making any decisions with regard to the future.”

Coun Carl Richardson, chairman of the local Labour group, said: “We have gone through a process after a secret ballot, and through that democratic process the Labour members in Headland and Harbour have chosen Sylvia Tempest as their preferred candidate. Robbie is a good councillor, but this is the choice of the ward members.”