‘Growing disconnect’ and ‘less faith’ - why Hartlepool Labour Group members want to remove their own leader

Could there be a new leader at Hartlepool Borough Council?
Could there be a new leader at Hartlepool Borough Council?

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher is battling for his political future amid calls from his own party members for him to resign.

His fate could be decided at a meeting of the Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party general committee on Friday.

Two motions have been put forward by disgruntled members:

Motion 1 – With regret, Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party resolves that it has no confidence in the current leader of Hartlepool Labour Group and acknowledges the detrimental impact that the current leadership could have on the forthcoming Local Government Elections in May 2019.

The Party notes:

• A lack of communication and consultation with Hartlepool’s electorate and recent constitutional reforms within HBC which have made our council less accessible, less democratic and less accountable to the general public in direct contravention of CLP policy around public questions and the timings of meetings.

That in so doing the leadership of the group is falling short of the seven Nolan principles of public life, namely selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

• A present and growing disconnect between the views and wishes of Hartlepool’s electors and present Labour Group policy which has alienated the electorate; notably through the examples of increases to councillors’ allowances and perceived ‘vanity’ regeneration projects.

• A growing tide of lies and deception regarding the leadership of the Labour Group across the town’s social media, enabled by a consistent inability or unwillingness from the present leadership to acknowledge and confront criticism in an effective or meaningful manner.

The lack of willing from current Labour Group Leadership to take on or criticise those who are supposed to be our political opponents, creating a widely held public perception of virtual coalition with prominent Conservative and former-UKIP politicians within Hartlepool.

Related content: Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher’s time as Hartlepool Borough Council leader

• That despite the National Labour Party (including our own Mike Hill MP) enjoying an increase in popular support over recent years, the people of Hartlepool appear to have lost faith in the local Party leading to the significant decline in electoral support the party has experienced since 2012.

• That our main opposition have now taken an unprecedented move and begun to specifically ‘weaponise’ the Leader of the Labour Group to worrying electoral effect as reflected by the feedback of our canvassing teams in recent elections who reported regular and growing public criticism of the present leadership on the doorstep. As a result of the above Hartlepool Constituency Labour party does not believe the current leadership of Hartlepool Labour Group has a sustainable future. The party believes that the time has come for new leadership that can command the respect of Hartlepool residents.

This CLP therefore resolves to formally request the resignation of the current leader of Hartlepool Labour Group and request appropriate action from Labour Group members to ensure that the requested change in leadership is forthcoming. On making this request Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party calls for an end to any negative infighting within the CLP, and asks that our party’s General and Executive Committees concentrate on issues of importance for both our town and its people.

Proposed: Burn Valley Branch Labour Party, Hart Branch Labour Party, Headland & Harbour Branch Labour Party, Jesmond Branch Labour Party, Rural West Branch Labour Party, Seaton Branch Labour Party, Victoria Branch Labour Party.

Motion 2 – That the Victoria BLP request, as a matter of urgency, that the Officers of Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party confirm that Members of the Hartlepool Labour Group are not involved in community or commercial activities that could (or could be perceived to) bring the Labour Party into disrepute.

Proposed: Victoria Branch Labour Party.