Special meeting called to discuss transparency of funding after row over motion deadline

An row over calls to improve transparency of council funding has led to an extraordinary meeting of Hartlepool Council being scheduled for next month.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 11:07 am
Updated Friday, 21st June 2019, 5:24 pm
Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

Labour councillors wanted to discuss a motion, which they said was about ensuring ‘openness and transparency’, at a full council meeting on June 20.

The motion called for a review of funding for any organisation to which an elected member is affiliated, for the council to ensure the organisations are audited and findings published, and for the council to state how it validates ‘value for money’ within those companies.

Labour Group leader Coun Paddy Brown believed they submitted the motion in time for it to be on the agenda for the meeting.

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But chief solicitor Hayley Martin said the deadline was missed.

She said: “The deadline expired on 5pm Monday and a motion was received by the director of finance and policy on the Tuesday morning which is the reason it was refused. We have checked and double checked with the dates and the deadline was 5pm Monday.”

Council leader Shane Moore said motions must be submitted ‘seven clear working days before the date of the meeting’, but added he would be ‘more than happy’ for it to come before the next council meeting.

Labour’s Coun Carl Richardson then called for the constitutional protocol to be suspended so the ‘vital’ motion could be discussed at the meeting.

Council staff and councillors at the meeting noted this was against the constitution.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said rules relating to the submission of motions have been the same for many years and it would be ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unacceptable’ for the motion to be heard.

Chief executive Gill Alexander, after speaking to the chief solicitor, then called for a five-minute adjournment due to it being ‘unprecedented for a motion to be put forward in this way’.

On their return, it was stated the decision on debating the motion would be made by chair of the council, Coun Brenda Loynes, who said an extraordinary meeting would be called in July to discuss it further.