‘We have the power!’ – Holidaying mayor sent email warning by council chief

Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher with a newly restored painting of the bombardment of the town.
Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher with a newly restored painting of the bombardment of the town.

COUNCIL bosses have sent an email to under-fire mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher in Mexico to inform him of calls for a meeting to discuss his future.

A group of five councillors joined forces to call for the mayor to stand down following his day-job dismissal and asked for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the issue.

Coun Akers-Belcher was sacked from his care manager role with Newcastle City Council and is appealing his dismissal.

Mexican standoff – plans to force Hartlepool mayor to resign blocked by sunshine holiday

Hartlepool Council executives insisted they did not have the power to call such a meeting, and said it would have to wait until Coun Akers-Belcher returned from his holiday before anything could be decided.

Not content with that response, independent Labour councillor Jonathan Brash - along with independent Paul Thompson and Putting Hartlepool First trio Geoff Lilley, David Riddle and Keith Dawkins - urged the council’s chief solicitor Peter Devlin and chief executive Dave Stubbs to “make a decision”.

And in response, Mr Stubbs sent an email to Coun Akers-Belcher to inform him of the situation.

TV star Jeff Stelling dragged into Hartlepool mayor row

If the email is not replied to within seven days, then Mr Stubbs could take a decision on whether or not to hold the meeting regardless.

Prior to the email being sent, the five councillors were told that their proposal did not constitute “procedural fairness”.

But Coun Brash pointed council chiefs in the direction of the local authority’s constitution, which says a meeting can be called in addition to ordinary meetings by:

1) The council by resolution;

2) The chair, or in his/her absence, the vice chair;

3)The council’s chief executive or monitoring officer;

4) Any five members of the council who have signed a resolution.

In an email to Mr Devlin and Mr Stubbs, Coun Brash said: “Despite my request I have received no indication of where this requirement for ‘procedural fairness’ is referenced in our constitution.

“What is made clear by our constitution is that in the absence of the Mayor, the deputy mayor will perform the functions of that role. We have a deputy mayor who can do this.

“Moreover, if the mayor or deputy fail to accept or request for a meeting the duty falls to you.

“This situation is going to get worse, and my advice is to let the democratically elected representatives of Hartlepool meet to discuss this matter or we will pursue other avenues to do it.”

He signed off the email by adding: “Failing all of that I am sure there is wi-fi in Mexico - solicit his views today and make a decision.”

A council spokseman said: “Our chief executive Dave Stubbs has emailed the mayor to inform him of the request and is awaiting a reply.

“Given that the mayor is on holiday, if we do not hear anything within the next seven days then the chief executive can take the decision.”