Tory leader raps Mayor

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A SENIOR councillor has slammed Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond after he increased the size of his cabinet committee when the council is cutting jobs.

Conservative councillor Ray Wells has hit out after Mayor Drummond introduced Labour councillor Chris Simmons as the new children’s services portfolio holder.

That brings the committee up to nine, and Coun Wells believes it sends out the wrong message at a time when Hartlepool Borough Council is reducing its workforce.

The number of councillors is also set to be reduced under proposals by the Boundary Commission, which have been supported by Mayor Drummond.

But Mayor Drummond defended the move and said it will have no cost to the local authority.

Coun Wells, who is Conservative group leader, said: “How can Mayor Drummond hand on heart ask the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of councillors from 47 to 33, at the same time reducing senior management over the last five years and a reduction in the general work force at the civic centre, when at the same time he has increased his cabinet twice in the past three years.

“This is not a criticism of the newly-appointed Coun Simmons, who has a wealth of experience.

“But it does send out the wrong signals to the electorate and the members of staff at the civic centre.

“He should be leading by example and start by slimming down his own cabinet.”

Cabinet members receive a special responsibility allowance (SRA) of £5,767 on top of their basic allowance of £5,767.

Coun Simmons is the leader of the Labour group, for which he receives the SRA of £5,767. Councillors can only receive one SRA.

Mayor Drummond said: “There is no extra cost to the council in doing this.”