'Virtually gagged' - Why Hartlepool man can only contact council one day a week

A Hartlepool man says he has been effectively banned from contacting council bosses with issues except for one day of the week.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 4:45 am

Rossmere resident Peter Joyce has been told only to contact Hartlepool Borough Council by email on Wednesdays after being made the subject of strict restrictions for 12 months.

The council says he has continued to raise numerous issues despite being subject to six-month restrictions three times in the last five years.

Mr Joyce, 72, insists he is merely a concerned resident and taxpayer and says his concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Peter Joyce, who is banned from contacting Hartlepool Borough Council except on a Wednesday, with correspondence he has exchanged with the council.

He said: “I think it’s ridiculous. Over the last two years there has only been a lapse of about four months where I haven’t been on restrictions.

"I have shown an interest in the well-being of Hartlepool and all I get is rebuffs, rejections and restrictions.

"For being an active resident to me it’s not acceptable. Democracy is supposed to be free speech.

"I find it non-existent because if you speak up you get banned. They virtually gag you.”

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Mr Joyce was informed of the latest restrictions, which last until next September, in a letter from Tony Hanson, the council’s director of neighbourhoods and regulatory services.

Mr Hanson said Mr Joyce had submitted “a large number of enquiries” through council officers, councillors and other third parties that the authority had already answered.

They included concerns about speeding, youths riding e-scooters, parking on verges and footpaths, football pitches maintenance, maintenance and revamp work in Rossmere Park, calls for 20mph signs and concerns over information signs on the A689.

Read More

Read More
Why bid for Hartlepool council 'leader's questions' session was defeated

Mr Hanson stated: “Having looked at the issues in the various emails you have sent to the council, I consider the majority of these matters the same, similar or related to issues you have been responded to previously on a number of occasions.

"Therefore I feel that you are returning to a pattern of behaviour you have previously been asked to modify on a number of occasions.”

He said he had “no choice” but to impose restrictions again and for a longer period.

All contact from Mr Joyce now has to be through the council’s customer service email address on a Wednesday.

Mr Joyce, who before Covid used to attend most council meetings, said he has never sought to be malicious or vexatious in his contact with the council.

He said the restrictions mean he often now ends up raising several issues at once.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson added: “It is important to note that while these restrictions are in place we will not ignore any new requests or complaints the resident may have.

“We are very happy to hear from our customers and always endeavour to respond to requests, queries, issues or concerns.

“However, there are times when customers begin to act in ways that the council believes to be unreasonable, unreasonably persistent or vexatious.

“Through their behaviour, these individuals take up a disproportionate amount of time, hinder the work of our staff and/or affect the safety and wellbeing of our staff and we have a clear policy for dealing with those individuals.”

Support your Mail and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest on Pools and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

The Hartlepool Mail has been in town since 1877, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.