Councillor Paddy Brown, who represents the Jesmond ward, announced he was leaving Labour on Monday, December 7, saying he has become ‘increasingly at odds’ with the direction of the party.
His resignation comes just days after fellow Labour councillor Jim Lindridge also resigned from the party for similar reasons and former deputy group leader Cllr Dave Hunter left in July.
Cllr Brown said: “I regret to say that the direction of the local Labour Party is increasingly at odds with what I believe to be best for the town. Too much time and energy is being wasted on political point scoring and Party bureaucracy.
"I must stress that this isn’t about any political disagreement or group of individuals, but about my reluctance to continue participating in big party politics any longer.
"Our councillors are elected by Hartlepool people, and for me the only people I should be answering to are the people, not party officers.”
Announcing his resignation on Friday, Fens and Rossmere Cllr Jim Lindridge posted on Facebook: “Over the last 12 months I have grown increasingly frustrated with external influences operating within Party – and I feel I can better serve the needs of Fens and Rossmere residents as an Independent Councillor.”
Cllr Brown added: “The more recent resignation of Jim just confirms my decision to leave the party.
"As Labour Group Leader, I witnessed attacking for attacking’s sake and political point scoring for far too long, and it’s now time to stop.
“It’s time to leave party politics aside and focus on the difficult times that lie ahead.”
Cllr Brown said he wished his ex-Labour colleagues well and would continue to represent Jesmond ward as an independent councillor for the time being.
The resignations leave Labour with six councillors on the council compared to 18 as recently as March 2019.
A spokesperson for the Labour Group said: “It is absolutely true to say that the Labour Party Hartlepool has changed over the last 12 months and in 2021 we will be unveiling an ambitious set of policies for our town.
"Policies that bring jobs and investment, tackle crime and antisocial behaviour, puts the needs of our elderly and vulnerable first, tackle child poverty and that ensure we have a council that is open, transparent and free from corruption.
“Earlier this week we announced our policy to put people before politicians by reforming the role of ceremonial Mayor and today we can announce that we will ban councillors from voting on their own allowances by tying them to the public sector pay award. As the Government freezes public sector pay, we will FREEZE councillors’ allowances.
“Some former Labour councillors have felt unable to sign up to our transformative agenda and although we very much wish them well for the future it is right that we part ways.
"We need change in our town and The Labour Party is not prepared to keep any candidate or councillor who is not ready for that challenge.”