No action against prominent councillors after Radio Hartlepool complaints

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher

No further action will be taken by Hartlepool Borough Council against two councillors after a complaint made by a community radio station.

Radio Hartlepool lodged a complaint with the council against the then ceremonial mayor Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher and Conservative leader Councillor Ray Martin-Wells.

It centred on the alleged inappropriate tone and content of telephone conversations between the councillors and radio station on June 30 and July 3 last year.

The radio station had contacted the councillors to offer a right of reply to a planned interview with Hartlepool UKIP parliamentary candidate Phillip Broughton.

During the investigation into the complaint, Radio Hartlepool managing director Jason Anderson told council monitoring officer Peter Devlin he believed the tone of the telephone conversations was “less than cordial”.

But Mr Devlin told an Audit and Governance meeting yesterday he had not been able to take the investigation any further because the radio station failed to provide transcripts of the phone conversations.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

The matter was also previously reported to Cleveland Police, but in January the force said that after a thorough investigation there had been no wrongdoing by any of the councillors involved.

A council spokesman said: “The council’s monitoring officer could not conclude the investigation because despite requesting evidence of the telephone conversations on four occasions from Radio Hartlepool between February 24 and August 19, 2015, this was never provided.

“The council’s monitoring officer could not therefore progress the complaint but his report to committee acknowledged that the police had conducted a thorough investigation and found that there was no inappropriate conduct by councillors.”

Jason Anderson, from Radio Hartlepool, told the Mail that he did not provide the transcripts because he did not have the councillors’ permission but admitted he had not sought it, citing legal constraints.