Councillors will be formally asked to turn down a pay rise as more members say they will refuse to accept it.
Eight Hartlepool Borough councillors are backing a motion calling for their colleagues to refuse a planned 2.2 per cent increase in their basic allowance.
The objectors say they do not deserve a rise – linked to an agreed 2.2 per cent wage increase for council staff – and believe the money should go towards supporting services.
But the council’s deputy leader says the increase is lower than what was originally proposed and will be the lowest basic allowance in the whole region.
It was previously reported that councillors Jonathan Brash and Pamela Hargreaves, who refer to themselves as Independent Labour but are classed as Independent on the council’s website, did not want the increase from £5,825 to £5,953.
They have been joined by independent Paul Thompson and all Putting Hartlepool First councillors Geoff Lilley, David Riddle, Steve Gibbon and Keith Dawkins.
Coun Riddle said:
“Certain councillors fail to recognise that the reputation of many of our elected councillors has never been lower.
“If we accept this rise it’ll be like a red rag to a bull, it’s like waving two fingers at the public, I want no part of it.”
Councillor Thompson added:
“In July I stated it was abhorrent we were even thinking about any increase especially in the current climate. I stand by that statement, it was abhorrent then and it’s still abhorrent now.”
The rise in councillor allowances was recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel and was discussed by the full council last July.
A Labour-backed amendment said any rise should be in line with that given to council staff which has since been agreed at Government level.
The motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Thursday, February 5, states:
“Voting to equate our work and remuneration to that of council staff was ill-judged and wrong.
“They deserve the pay rise and we do not. We therefore call upon all councillors to forgo the 2.2 per cent increase in their allowance, so that the money can go toward supporting services here in Hartlepool.”
Coun Brash said:
“It is important for democracy that the public is fully aware what their politicians are doing.
“Either they think they deserve a pay rise or simply don’t.
“I personally think in the current climate with all the difficulties our residents are going through, to give ourselves a pay rise is totally wrong.”
Deputy council leader Councillor Carl Richardson said:
“The council has received this motion and it will go before the full council at its meeting on February 5.
“As I have said previously, Hartlepool councillors received no increase in their Basic Allowance for four years from 2009/10 to 2012/13 and the full council last year rejected the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendation that the Basic Allowance should be increased each year, which would have meant a figure of £6,517 for 2015/16.
“Instead, it agreed an amendment put forward by the Labour Group that councillors should stick to a previous 2013 resolution that they should only receive an increase in their basic allowance in line with any pay increase received by council employees from the Government, as and when that occurred.
“The current increase, which will be payable from January 1, 2015 and will be fixed for 2015/16, will take the councillors’ basic allowance from £5,825 to £5,953.
“It means Hartlepool will still have the lowest councillors’ basic allowance in the North-East – significantly less than the North-East average of £8,965 and way below the highest allowance in the region of £13,300.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 24 Jan 2015
A scheme to force bad housing landlords to clean up their act will be introduced after being approved by councillors.
A Selective Licensing scheme will see private landlords in 13 Hartlepool streets require a licence to operate.
It aims to clamp down on nuisance tenants and drive up housing standards for 544 properties.
There were calls from councillors and members of the Public for more streets to be included in the Hartlepool Borough Council scheme.
But officers warned they should only include streets where there was evidence to show there were problems to protect them from a potential judicial review by private landlords.
The council included streets where at least 50 per cent are privately rented and there was a repeat antisocial behaviour rate of 15 per cent.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said:
“If you’ve got bad landlords and bad management agents who don’t do proper reference checking and bung anybody in you end up with problems such as antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.
“This is all about driving up standards.”
He added selective licencing has worked in other areas of the town and elsewhere in the country.
The streets that will be the subject of the new five-year scheme are Cornwall Street, Kimberley Street, Richmond Street, and Rydal Street in the Burn Valley ward. In Foggy Furze ward it includes Borrowdale Street and Sydenham Road.
Five streets in Victoria Ward of Dent Street, Furness Street, Sheriff Street, Straker Street, and Stephen Street.
Burbank Street and St Oswald’s Street are also included in the Headland and Harbour and Jesmond wards.
Julie Rudge, secretary of the Dent and Derwent Street Residents’ Association said she was disappointed other streets around Dent Street were not included.
“I know there are issues in streets you are taking out,” she said.
Councillor Carl Richardson said residents of Belk Street also wanted to be included.
Councillor Pam Hargreaves said: “Picking out one or two streets makes it toothless.”
Officers agreed provide details of other streets that could be included if they lowered the criteria standards at the next meeting.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 19 Jan 2015