Mayor writes to councillors over cabinet positions

HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond has written to all councillors to see who wants to be considered for a position on his cabinet.

It is his responsibility to select a cabinet committee, which can have between two and nine members, from the newly elected or re-elected councillors.

This year Mayor Drummond has taken the unusual step of writing to all councillors asking for expressions of interest.

In the letter, he congratulates the councillors on their election and said the cabinet needs to work closely with Hartlepool Borough Council’s scrutiny committees in order to “strengthen the decision making process” over the course of the next year.

Mayor Drummond, who is yet to reveal how big his cabinet will be, said expressions of interest will be treated with the “strictest confidence”.

In the letter to councillors, he said: “I have the task of selecting a cabinet for the forthcoming year and I’d like to know whether you would wish to be considered for a position on the cabinet.

“The council faces one of the most challenging years in living memory and I believe that only by working closely together will we be able to face up to these challenges and continue to provide strong leadership and good services for the people of Hartlepool.”

Last week’s all out local election saw Labour secure 21 out of 33 seats in the council chamber.

Four members of Putting Hartlepool First were elected, Conservatives took three seats and five independents won seats.

The Liberal Democrats lost their voice on the council as they won no seats.

Speaking to the Mail, Mayor Drummond said: “I am almost starting from scratch and I am just looking at it slightly differently than in years gone by.

“Obviously the first step is to find out who is interested.

“There is no pressure on anybody and I have asked for responses by the end of this week.”

Mayor Drummond added: “We are facing a difficult year ahead and we are already working with less resources.

“There is going to be some extremely difficult decisions over the next 12-months and I will be heading a team of people that are going to have to step up to the plate.”

Mayor Drummond has previously said he holds “no grudges” as he decides who will join his cabinet.

He axed six Labour councillors from his cabinet in February over their failure to support proposals for this year’s council budget.

Councillors Jonathan Brash, Pamela Hargreaves, Ged Hall, Chris Simmons, Robbie Payne and Peter Jackson were culled after failing to back their own proposals for Hartlepool Borough Council’s 2012-13 budget.

It left a three-strong cabinet of Mayor Drummond and independent councillors Cath Hill and Hilary Thompson.