A look at Hartlepool Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher’s time in the hot seat

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher addressing councillors in the council chamber.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher addressing councillors in the council chamber.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher was elected to Hartlepool Borough Council in 2009 and became Labour Group Leader in 2012.

He represents the Foggy Furze Ward and is elected until 2020.

His biography on the council’s website states he has over 22 years of senior local government experience, working in Finance, Revenues and Benefits as a Local Government Officer at a number of North East Councils.

It adds Coun Akers-Belcher is very community based and has devoted a large part of his life to the voluntary and community sector, and as chair of his local residents association has been instrumental in securing funds for local communities.

Related: Hartlepool Labour party bids to oust leader in vote of no confidence - but council chief claims he’s being ‘bullied’

As leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, in recent years he has taken a lead role in various regeneration projects including in and around Church Street and the waterfront.

He has been outspoken about continued government funding cuts to the council which his set to be 45% less than in recent years by 2020.

But Coun Akers-Belcher has also faced criticism from political opponents and the public for backing council tax rises and last year voting in favour of a 31% rise in councillors’ basic allowances after a two-year freeze.

Last month, Labour lost the Hart seat previously held by Paul Beck in a by-election to independent candidate James Brewer.

Mr Beck resigned and cited the deselection of Councillor Allan Barclay – the current Hartlepool Mayor – as a candidate for Manor House ward next May by the Constituency Labour Party as one of the reasons.

Mr Beck blamed “power crazy individuals” within the CLP, but the party said the decision was a result of greater competition for seats and some branches wanting to see a change.