Hartlepool councillor convicted of assault rejects new calls for him to resign

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A councillor has rejected renewed calls for him to resign following a local authority investigation after he was convicted of assault.

The inquiry was held after Councillor Gordon Cranney was re-elected to the Seaton ward in May’s Hartlepool Borough Council elections – just a week after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

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Councillor Gordon Cranney. Picture by Frank ReidCouncillor Gordon Cranney. Picture by Frank Reid
Councillor Gordon Cranney. Picture by Frank Reid

The investigation report has been released ahead of its presentation to the full council on Thursday, September 29, with new allegations arising over potential social media misuse.

But speaking this week about the new call for him to resign, Cllr Cranney said: “I have given thought to it, at the time I was highly considering it and it was almost a done deal.

“But now no, I won’t be considering it anymore.

"I’ve had more and more people coming to me for help around Hartlepool and I’ve done my best to help them.”

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But the punishment fell beneath the threshold of a three-month prison sentence, suspended or otherwise, which would have automatically disbarred him from office.

Other sanctions imposed on Cllr Cranney include excluding him from council premises, with the exception of full council meetings, for the remainder of his term.

The report noted Cllr Cranney was ruled to have “significantly breached” the code of conduct for elected members in regards to “leadership”, “respect” and “bringing the council into disrepute”.

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The council’s scrutiny committee found “it was unacceptable Cllr Cranney had not informed the borough council of his conviction”.

The investigation flagged up concerns around his conduct since his initial election to office in 2021 - with social media identified as the “route through which many of the problems arose”.

It was “conservatively estimated” in the year since he was elected that “over 50 hours of chief officer time has been spent investigating and dealing with issues” linked to him.

Other sanctions agreed included withdrawing council computer and email facilities and having him attend code of conduct and social media training.

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Additionally the scrutiny committee has asked full council to consider further sanctions, including formally censuring Cllr Cranney “for his conduct and bringing the authority into disrepute”.

Another option is to lobby Government for legislation to be amended to enable councils to dismiss a councillor where they have been convicted of violence against another person.

Speaking ahead of the full council meeting, Cllr Cranney said he was “disappointed” in how the inquiry had focused on issues beyond his conviction after he previously supported the investigation.

He said: “I voted to view what sanctions could be put in place against me for having a conviction.

But it’s no longer about that, it’s about other things.

“I’m hoping that if it passes that’s going to set the precedent then for people who bring the council into disrepute and people who misuse social media.”