Row breaks out as Labour deselects Hartlepool Mayor from standing in ward election
A political row has broken out after the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool was deselected by his party from standing in his ward in next year's council elections.
Councillor Allan Barclay, the Ceremonial Mayor and council’s Armed Forces Champion, has not been chosen by Labour members to stand again as the party’s candidate for Manor House ward next May.
Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party is currently selecting candidates for next year’s local elections.
Sitting councillors Katie Trueman (Victoria Ward) and Sandra Belcher (Jesmond) have also not been chosen in their respective wards.
The move has been cited as one of the reasons fellow councillor Paul Beck, who represents Hart ward on Hartlepool Borough Council, is to stand down from the end of the month.
He said his wife Mary is suffering with a bad hip and needs more help at home.
Coun Beck, who was elected in 2015 and served as mayor last year, said: “We have just enjoyed the great honour of being The Mayor and Mayoress of Hartlepool representing this town with great dignity and pride and raising £21,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support and our beloved Rifty Youth Project.”
He listed a number of achievements in Hart ward including the provision of a play park and CCTV at Middle Warren, safe crossings on Merlin Way and the A179 and a new pharmacy.
But he added: “I find it totally unacceptable that Councillor Allan Barclay our present Ceremonial Mayor and Forces Champion, who served his country, has been hunted down and deselected from standing in May 2019 by power crazy individuals at South Road, another reason for going early.”
Anth Frain, secretary of Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party said prospective candidates are voted for by individual branch members after an interview.
He said: “There is no automatic selection process, everyone has to fight for their place.
“We have got a resurgent party with some 600 members and there’s just been great competition for places.
“It seems some branches have wanted to see change.”
Council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, Labour, said: “Paul is one of the most honourable people I have ever met.
“He has been a wonderful councillor and shall be missed enormously both on the Hart ward and in the council, where he has achieved so much for his residents.”