A COUNCILLOR has apologised after asking a heckler at a meeting: “Have I slept with you?”
Labour councillor Kevin Cranney admitted making the comment in response to jeers directed towards him from some members of the public.
It came at the end of the extraordinary Hartlepool Borough Council meeting last Thursday night to discuss efforts to bring services back to Hartlepool hospital.
Part of the incident, which led to a number of complaints being made about Coun Cranney, was captured by a member of the audience on a mobile phone and a video posted on the internet.
Coun Cranney told the Mail he will make a formal apology after the council has finished its investigation.
He also revealed he considered resigning but changed his mind after receiving the backing of people in Foggy Furze ward which he represents.
Coun Cranney, who will stand for re-election in May, told the Mail: “It was off the cuff, I turned round and said ‘what’s your problem, have I slept with you?’.
“In hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, I realise I shouldn’t have but I don’t use any excuse that I was under pressure.
“I shouldn’t have said it and once the complaint has been investigated I will issue a public apology.”
The video shows the level of anger by parts of the audience towards Labour councillors, including Coun Cranney, at the meeting in the Town Hall Theatre.
I shouldn’t have said it and once the complaint has been investigated I will issue a public apology.Councillor Kevin Cranney
It was after motions put forward by independent councillors seeking a town referendum on a new health plan being developed for Hartlepool, and another for a vote of no confidence in hospital leaders, were lost.
Chants of ‘Labour out’ and loud boos were directed at the stage.
At one point in the video a woman can be heard to say she remembers Coun Cranny from years ago, when he appeared to say “I haven’t slept with you have I?”
But Coun Cranney, who is vice chairman of the council’s regeneration services committee, claimed he was the victim of ‘vile abuse’.
“I would also like to apologise for anybody in the audience who had to listen to the vile abuse and comments by some members who were in that audience.”
He added: “I’ve talked to loads of residents since then and they have all said ‘you were wrong but you have been a good councillor.’
“I was thinking of resigning but because that many local residents are saying ‘we want you to continue’ I’m going to continue.”
Coun Cranney also denied suggestions he swore at members of the public on his way out.
He added: “When I was going out people said ‘we’re not voting for you’ and I said ‘I don’t need your pity votes’.”
Cleveland Police said they had been alerted to the incident but it was a matter for the council’s own code of conduct.
A council spokesman said: “I can confirm that we have received a number of email complaints in relation to comments allegedly made by Councillor Kevin Cranney following last Thursday’s Extraordinary Council meeting.
“These are currently being dealt with by Chief Solicitor Peter Devlin in his role as the authority’s Monitoring Officer and in line with arrangements for handling complaints adopted by councils under the terms of the Localism Act.”