Hartlepool councillor resigns as deputy council leader and deputy mayor following nuclear waste talks row
Conservative councillor Mike Young has announced his resignation as deputy mayor and deputy council leader following controversy over his role in talks about potential nuclear waste disposal in Hartlepool.
Cllr Young confirmed last week he had helped organise meetings between local organisation The Wharton Trust and Hartlepool Borough Council officials to listen to a proposal for the burial of nuclear waste in the Hartlepool area.
Tory Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said it was “hugely disappointing” after he previously criticised Labour in Hartlepool for receiving a presentation on the same issue.
Mayor Houchen, Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer and the Labour Group on the council have submitted Freedom of Information requests to the council for details of all correspondence.
Cllr Young announced his resignation in a statement released by Hartlepool Conservatives on Tuesday afternoon.
He will continue to represent the Rural West ward and is still a member of the Conservatives.
In the statement Cllr Young said: “In recent weeks it has become clear I lack the support of more senior Conservatives in the region.
“Having been approached with information from Wharton Trust and confirming that the information conformed with policies from Central Government, I engaged with the Government’s arm of Radioactive Waste Management.
“The proposal included up to a ten-year consultation process ending in a binding vote made by the people of Hartlepool, who would have had the final say in the outcome.
“As a town, we face losing the nuclear power station along with its jobs and income within a few short years.
“It would have been remiss of me to disregard an opportunity that had the potential of creating hundreds of jobs along with the non-domestic rates that would match that lost from the power station’s closure.
“It is more than apparent that local politics doesn't afford you the level of decision making that you'd have thought.
“I, therefore, wish to tender my resignation from the Deputy Leader and Deputy Mayor positions of Hartlepool Borough Council with immediate effect.
“I will continue in my other democratically elected roles and continue to strive to serve the electorate of the Rural West Ward as I have always tried to do.”
It would see all of the United Kingdom’s higher activity radioactive waste encased in concrete before being stored in a network of deep underground tunnels.
The consultation process alone is set to take several years with interested communities benefiting from millions of pounds in community investment.
The project itself is said to be worth billions and would create at least 750 jobs in town.
No specific site in Hartlepool has been identified.
But senior Hartlepool and politicians, including council leader Shane Moore, MP Jill Mortimer and Mayor Houchen, have said they will fight “tooth and nail” to prevent it.
Project leaders have said it will not be forced on communities and would ultimately be decided by a binding people’s vote.