Hartlepool Labour Party calls for councillor and former mayor to stand down to spark by-election
Hartlepool Labour Party is calling for Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher to stand down from the council and allow a by-election to be called.
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, a former mayor who represents the Manor House ward, resigned from the Labour Party just days after he was suspended over allegations of delivering leaflets for another party's candidate.
It comes after former councillors Allan Barclay and Sandra Belcher resigned from the party to stand as Socialist Labour Party candidates in the council elections next week.
A spokesperson for Hartlepool Labour Party said: “It is clear that Councillor Akers-Belcher was very upset at the deselection of his friends and family by the Labour Party in the run up to these local elections, as well as the vote of no confidence in his husband’s leadership of the council.
"However, that is no excuse for the alleged behaviour that led to his suspension and which would constitute standards well below that expected of a person in his position. It appears that he has chosen to quit, rather than defend himself.
"He has become a distraction to the work that the Labour Party is doing to improve Hartlepool; better jobs, cleaner neighbourhoods, safer streets, better healthcare, a stronger, more vibrant town. His resignation is welcomed – change is upon us.”
A press release from the Hartlepool Labour Party reiterated that in 2013 the leader of the council, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher commented on what councillors who resign from the Labour Party should do after Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves left the Hartlepool party.
Referring back to a story in the Hartlepool Mail, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “They are no longer in the Labour Group and they have no mandate to be a councillor and as such should abide by their conscience and seek re-election through a duly called by-election. They were elected as Labour candidates and once they lose that brand they speak for no-one but themselves.”
The Hartlepool Labour Party spokesman added: “The Party expects Stephen Akers-Belcher to abide by these words and resign from the council immediately.
"The local Party has begun active preparations for a high profile by-election campaign in the Manor House ward where it can take a positive message to local residents.”