‘Vote of no confidence’ over Hartlepool Mayor

Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher
Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher

THE Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool is facing a call for a vote of no confidence after two heated council meetings.

A motion tabled by opposition councillors will go before the next full council meeting on Thursday, March 26.

David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First.

David Riddle, Putting Hartlepool First.

It has been put forward by five councillors of the Putting Hartlepool First party, and independent councillor Jonathan Brash.

The motion reads: “We request that a formal vote of no confidence be taken in regard to the Chairman of the Council, Stephen Akers-Belcher.”

Putting Hartlepool First councillor David Riddle claims the motion is in response to Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher’s stance towards members of the public, at an extraordinary council meeting he chaired on Monday, February 16.

The meeting included a motion by Coun Riddle which unsuccessfully called for the council to withdraw all co-operation with acute health trust leaders, over their management of the town’s hospital.

I would much prefer it if there was a cohesive relationship between us and the other parties, but quite frankly it is impossible when we are faced with situations like in the previous meetings.

Councillor David Riddle

However, it descended into chaos and was halted for 10 minutes amid angry comments aimed at members of the council from the public gallery. Save our Hospital member Keith Fisher left the chamber after being approached by security staff.

The six councillors also questioned the accuracy of minutes of the meeting during a full council meeting on Thursday, February 26.

It all centred on whether the previous meeting had been adjourned and not closed.

Coun Riddle said: “I would much prefer it if there was a cohesive relationship between us and the other parties, but quite frankly it is impossible when we are faced with situations like in the previous meetings.”

Coun Brash said: “This isn’t about semantics, the difference between adjourning a meeting and closing it potentially carries legal consequences.”

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, responded to the motion by saying: “It is the usual suspects again and they are sounding rather like a stuck record.

“I think they need to reflect on their own behaviour and posturing – they are obviously not aware of the damage they are doing.

“We are at a crucial point of working together over the hospital and, whilst they are focussing on personality politics, I am not going to be distracted by that.

“I have made it clear throughout this year that this will be my final year in office as Mayor, so it is nothing more than political posturing to leave this attack until the final meeting of the municipal year.”