Hartlepool political rivals unite to condemn 'abuse and harassment of senior council officers'

Political opponents have united to condemn “a large increase” in social media abuse directed at senior council officers.
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In a joint statement, four Hartlepool Borough Council rivals say “we fully support our officers, who all do their very best for the people of Hartlepool day in and day out”.

The statement is signed by Councillor Shane Moore, leader of the council and the Conservative and independent union coalition, Cllr Mike Young, the council’s deputy leader and Conservative group leader, Cllr Jonathan Brash, the Labour group’s deputy leader, and Cllr Peter Jackson, Hartlepool People Group leader.

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It reads: "In recent months locally on social media we have seen a large increase in abuse aimed at Hartlepool’s senior council staff, questioning their integrity.

Rival Hartlepool borough councillors, from left, Peter Jackson, Jonathan Brash, Mike Young and Shane Moore.Rival Hartlepool borough councillors, from left, Peter Jackson, Jonathan Brash, Mike Young and Shane Moore.
Rival Hartlepool borough councillors, from left, Peter Jackson, Jonathan Brash, Mike Young and Shane Moore.

"These allegations are wholly unfounded and totally unacceptable.

“We are united as leaders in our support for democratic debate and stand firmly against abuse and harassment.

"Debating and disagreeing with one another is a healthy part of democracy, but abuse and harassment has absolutely no place.

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“As councillors we are free to engage and debate with residents – in fact we encourage this scrutiny and shared passion for our town.

"Council officers, however, are not in this position.

"Their role is to serve the town and whichever political party/parties control the council.

"This means they cannot publicly defend themselves or put right unfounded allegations or factually incorrect information.

"We fully support our officers, who all do their very best for the people of Hartlepool day in and day out.

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"If residents disagree with a council-related matter then they should speak to their local councillors, who can raise this in a democratic manner with the council.“The council is subject to significant external inspections, including its financial standing.

"In every year that the council has been a unitary authority, the independent external auditors have given our accounts a clean bill of health. Not all local authorities achieve these high standards.

“With the local elections only a few weeks away, we are looking forward to engaging and debating with as many residents as possible to discuss their views and share our own vision of politics in Hartlepool.

"These may vary from political party to party. However, one thing we will always be united in is in standing up against abuse and harassment of our council officers.’’