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For the Few, Not the Many The Labour/Tory coalition controlling Hartlepool Council have voted themselves a 31% pay increase. The move comes as public sector workers remain tied to an annual 1% and many in the private sector are being forced to accept even less. The increase, which was recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel, was voted through by 17 Labour councillors with the help of all 3 Conservative councillors. Council Writes Off £358,483 of Morton’s Unpaid Business Rates Hartlepool Borough Council has written off more than £358,000 in Business Rates owed to them by ‘businessman’ Brian Morton. The unpaid debts are spread across four of Morton’s companies: Tees Leisure Ltd; Johnnor Developments Ltd; Seaton Leisure Ltd and Clockwise Leisure Ltd which between them cover the ownership of the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Seaton Sports Domes. Morton has dissolved or liquidated companies covering the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Sports Domes only to relaunch them under a new company name immediately afterwards, each time leaving a trail of unpaid creditors and staff. Labour Make Cranney Town’s Representative for Culture In a move which brought tears of laughter to the public gallery at Tuesday’s council meeting, Labour have voted Kevin Cranney to be the town’s representative for Culture on the Tees Valley Combined Authority. It took several minutes for the public gallery to recover its composure as Chairman, Rob Cook, struggled to regain control. Cranney, who has yet to master all 26 letters of the alphabet, has gained notoriety over the years for his 26 short-lived companies, his highly imaginative approach to accounting and his now infamous and misogynistic ‘have I slept  with you’ remark to a grandmother which made the national news. The resulting complaints forced the council to send him on a Diversity Training Course. The councillor’s CV can also boast of a five-year ban on being a Director of any company, a breach of Environment Agency  regulations and defaulting on a £115,000 Government backed loan. Labour’s Forced Into Pre-Election U-Turn on Public Questions Plans to move meetings of the full council to daytimes only and to further limit the public’s ability to submit questions at meetings of the full council were shelved at the council meeting held on Tuesday, 23rd May. The move follows a public outcry over a report by the council’s Constitution Working Group which proposed the changes; the latest in a series of changes restrictions on public questions. An on-line petition against the proposals reached 1,456 signatures within just 5 days. Leader Complains After Borough Hall Staff Fail to Hold Door Open For Him Council Leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher  and his partner Stephen Akers-Belcher have lodged a complaint against staff who work at the Headland’s Borough Hall venue because they failed to hold the door open for the couple as they were entering an awards ceremony. The two councillors were attending the Hartlepool Business Awards ceremony held on Thursday, May 11th Thieving Labour Councillor Wilcox  Released After Just 6 Months Thieving Labour Councillor Angie Wilcox has been released from prison on 22nd May after serving just six months of a 20 months sentence. In addition, she has been told that she will have to pay back just £1 of the thousands of pounds of charitable and taxpayer’s money that she stole. Wilcox was the manager of the town’s Manor Residents Association, a community organisation which over the years had received millions of pounds of public money from Hartlepool Borough Council and various charitable sources. In December, 2016 she was found guilty on a number of charges of fraud and theft and sentenced to 20 months in prison. Only £7,000  of theft was directly proven although the total known fraud assessed amounted to some £137,000. It has also been estimated that a total of some £380,000 of funds could not be accounted for because of irregularities in the organisation’s accounts.  Cemetery Café Closed After Costing Taxpayer £357,000 The controversial Café in the Cemetery, Inspirations is to close at the end of March after costing the local taxpayer no less than £357,000 ‘The Vision 3 Years On A failed compulsory purchase order and an embarrassing listing on eBay but, 3 years on and hundreds of thousands of pounds later, has the Hartlepool Vision actually changed anything or started to create any the 2,000 jobs that it promised beyond those involved in the production of colourful artist’s impressions? Groundhog Day Linked to the above story it’s perhaps timely to remind everyone where we’ve already been. The picture to the left is taken from the pages of the Hartlepool Mail from the late 1990s as the then Labour Leader of Hartlepool Council, the late Bryan Hanson ceremoniously opened a revamped Church Street. The project was part of the £37m City Challenge  scheme and was intended to give Church Street a Mediterranean style which would attract new visitors to the town. It involved the refurbishment of several buildings and their frontage which had fallen into disrepair, the laying of block paving, the planting of several trees and the construction of a glass canopy on one side of the street. The present Labour Council expect work to begin soon on its own £7.35m scheme to once again ‘regenerate’ Church Street, This time the claim is it will ‘redefine the Church Street area with additional daytime uses, an improved environment and a vibrant creative industries economy.’
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Conjoined Realities An Exhibition of Photographs from Richardson Westgarth and Smiths Dock Taken By Philip Marsden Hartlepool Central Library Now Until June 5 th
Leader Raids Services Budgets To Prop Up Unfunded Vanity Project Senior Council Officers are understood to be getting increasing concerned over the amount of money being raided from council services budgets to fund the regeneration of Church Street. A Project Initiation Document to help manage the £7.35m scheme was approved in September 2015 has been approved by the council’s Regeneration Committee but the council has struggled to fully fund the project. At the time, a council spokesman said, “. . . the development of the Innovation and Skills Quarter offers the opportunity to redefine the Church Street area with additional daytime uses, an improved environment and a vibrant creative industries economy.” “The project will capitalize on the significant number of vacant properties which are not being redeveloped by the market and respond to the lack of small and medium sized enterprise workspace in the town.”

Although the council has secured £5.4million of Local Growth Funding

from the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as well as having

been awarded £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project remains

well short of being fully funded.

The Leader of the Council has now taken to raiding other budgets, with the full support of the Chief Executive, in an effort to fill the funding gap. However, Senior Council Officers are concerned over the effect this will have on services.  :
Council Too Broke to Buy New Keyboards for Town Library “I've just been to the main library in town to use their PCs. The keyboards are so worn that many of the letters can't be seen, and staff keep having to put stickers on to identify the key. Why couldn't the councillors' pay rise be used to replace keyboards or something else essential in town to benefit everyone?” Hartlepool Post Reader
For the Few, Not the Many The Labour/Tory coalition controlling Hartlepool Council have voted themselves a 31% pay increase. The move comes as public sector workers remain tied to an annual 1% and many in the private sector are being forced to accept even less. The increase, which was recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel, was voted through by 17 Labour councillors with the help of all 3 Conservative councillors. Council Writes Off £358,483 of Morton’s Unpaid Business Rates Hartlepool Borough Council has written off more than £358,000 in Business Rates owed to them by ‘businessman’ Brian Morton. The unpaid debts are spread across four of Morton’s companies: Tees Leisure Ltd; Johnnor Developments Ltd; Seaton Leisure Ltd and Clockwise Leisure Ltd which between them cover the ownership of the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Seaton Sports Domes. Morton has dissolved or liquidated companies covering the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Sports Domes only to relaunch them under a new company name immediately afterwards, each time leaving a trail of unpaid creditors and staff. Labour Make Cranney Town’s Representative for Culture In a move which brought tears of laughter to the public gallery at Tuesday’s council meeting, Labour have voted Kevin Cranney to be the town’s representative for Culture on the Tees Valley Combined Authority.  It took several minutes for the public gallery to recover its composure as Chairman, Rob Cook, struggled to regain control. Cranney, who has yet to master all 26 letters of the alphabet, has gained notoriety over the years for his 26 short-lived companies, his highly imaginative approach to accounting and his now infamous and misogynistic ‘have I slept with you’ remark to a grandmother which made the national news. The resulting complaints forced the council to send him on a Diversity Training Course. The councillor’s CV can also boast of a five-year ban on being a Director of any company, a breach of Environment Agency  regulations and defaulting on a £115,000 Government backed loan. Labour’s Forced Into Pre- Election U-Turn on Public Questions Plans to move meetings of the full council to daytimes only and to further limit the public’s ability to submit questions at meetings of the full council were shelved at the council meeting held on Tuesday, 23rd May. The move follows a public outcry over a report by the council’s Constitution Working Group which proposed the changes; the latest in a series of changes restrictions on public questions. An on-line petition against the proposals reached 1,456 signatures within just 5 days. Leader Complains After Borough Hall Staff Fail to Hold Door Open For Him Council Leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher and his partner Stephen Akers-Belcher have lodged a complaint against staff who work at the Headland’s Borough Hall venue because they failed to hold the door open for the couple as they were entering an awards ceremony. The two councillors were attending the Hartlepool Business Awards ceremony held on Thursday, May 11th Thieving Labour Councillor Wilcox  Released After Just 6 Months Thieving Labour Councillor Angie Wilcox has been released from prison on 22nd May after serving just six months of a 20 months sentence. In addition, she has been told that she will have to pay back just £1  of the thousands of pounds of charitable and taxpayer’s money that she stole. Wilcox was the manager of the town’s Manor Residents Association, a community organisation which over the years had received millions of pounds of public money from Hartlepool Borough Council and various charitable sources. In December, 2016 she was found guilty on a number of charges of fraud and theft and sentenced to 20 months in prison. Only £7,000 of theft was directly proven although the total known fraud assessed amounted to some £137,000. It has also been estimated that a total of some £380,000 of funds could not be accounted for because of irregularities in the organisation’s accounts.  Cemetery Café Closed After Costing Taxpayer £357,000 The controversial Café in the Cemetery, Inspirations is to close at the end of March after costing the local taxpayer no less than £357,000 ‘The Vision 3 Years On A failed compulsory purchase order and an embarrassing listing on eBay but, 3 years on and hundreds of thousands of pounds later, has the Hartlepool Vision actually changed anything or started to create any the 2,000 jobs that it promised beyond those involved in the production of colourful artist’s impressions? Groundhog Day Linked to the above story it’s perhaps timely to remind everyone where we’ve already been. The picture to the left is taken from the pages of the Hartlepool Mail from the late 1990s as the then Labour Leader of Hartlepool Council, the late Bryan Hanson ceremoniously opened a revamped Church Street. The project was part of the £37m City Challenge scheme and was intended to give Church Street a Mediterranean style which would attract new visitors to the town. It involved the refurbishment of several buildings and their frontage which had fallen into disrepair, the laying of block paving, the planting of several trees and the construction of a glass canopy on one side of the street. The present Labour Council expect work to begin soon on its own £7.35m scheme to once again ‘regenerate’ Church Street, This time the claim is it will ‘redefine the Church Street area with additional daytime uses, an improved environment and a vibrant creative industries economy.’
For the Few, Not the Many The Labour/Tory coalition controlling Hartlepool Council have voted themselves a 31% pay increase. The move comes as public sector workers remain tied to an annual 1% and many in the private sector are being forced to accept even less. The increase, which was recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel, was voted through by 17 Labour councillors with the help of all 3 Conservative councillors. Council Writes Off £358,483 of Morton’s Unpaid Business Rates Hartlepool Borough Council has written off more than £358,000 in Business Rates owed to them by ‘businessman’ Brian Morton. The unpaid debts are spread across four of Morton’s companies: Tees Leisure Ltd; Johnnor Developments Ltd; Seaton Leisure Ltd and Clockwise Leisure Ltd which between them cover the ownership of the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Seaton Sports Domes. Morton has dissolved or liquidated companies covering the Hillcarter Hotel, the Staincliffe Hotel and the Sports Domes only to relaunch them under a new company name immediately afterwards, each time leaving a trail of unpaid creditors and staff. Labour Make Cranney Town’s Representative for Culture In a move which brought tears of laughter to the public gallery at Tuesday’s council meeting, Labour have voted Kevin Cranney to be the town’s representative for Culture on the Tees Valley Combined Authority. It took several minutes for the public gallery to recover its composure as Chairman, Rob Cook, struggled to regain control. Cranney, who has yet to master all 26 letters of the alphabet, has gained notoriety over the years for his 26 short-lived companies, his highly imaginative approach to accounting and his now infamous and misogynistic ‘have I slept  with you’ remark to a grandmother which made the national news. The resulting complaints forced the council to send him on a Diversity Training Course. The councillor’s CV can also boast of a five-year ban on being a Director of any company, a breach of Environment Agency  regulations and defaulting on a £115,000 Government backed loan. Labour’s Forced Into Pre-Election U-Turn on Public Questions Plans to move meetings of the full council to daytimes only and to further limit the public’s ability to submit questions at meetings of the full council were shelved at the council meeting held on Tuesday, 23rd May. The move follows a public outcry over a report by the council’s Constitution Working Group which proposed the changes; the latest in a series of changes restrictions on public questions. An on-line petition against the proposals reached 1,456 signatures within just 5 days. Leader Complains After Borough Hall Staff Fail to Hold Door Open For Him Council Leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher  and his partner Stephen Akers-Belcher have lodged a complaint against staff who work at the Headland’s Borough Hall venue because they failed to hold the door open for the couple as they were entering an awards ceremony. The two councillors were attending the Hartlepool Business Awards ceremony held on Thursday, May 11th Thieving Labour Councillor Wilcox  Released After Just 6 Months Thieving Labour Councillor Angie Wilcox has been released from prison on 22nd May after serving just six months of a 20 months sentence. In addition, she has been told that she will have to pay back just £1 of the thousands of pounds of charitable and taxpayer’s money that she stole. Wilcox was the manager of the town’s Manor Residents Association, a community organisation which over the years had received millions of pounds of public money from Hartlepool Borough Council and various charitable sources. In December, 2016 she was found guilty on a number of charges of fraud and theft and sentenced to 20 months in prison. Only £7,000  of theft was directly proven although the total known fraud assessed amounted to some £137,000. It has also been estimated that a total of some £380,000 of funds could not be accounted for because of irregularities in the organisation’s accounts.  Cemetery Café Closed After Costing Taxpayer £357,000 The controversial Café in the Cemetery, Inspirations is to close at the end of March after costing the local taxpayer no less than £357,000 ‘The Vision 3 Years On A failed compulsory purchase order and an embarrassing listing on eBay but, 3 years on and hundreds of thousands of pounds later, has the Hartlepool Vision actually changed anything or started to create any the 2,000 jobs that it promised beyond those involved in the production of colourful artist’s impressions? Groundhog Day Linked to the above story it’s perhaps timely to remind everyone where we’ve already been. The picture to the left is taken from the pages of the Hartlepool Mail from the late 1990s as the then Labour Leader of Hartlepool Council, the late Bryan Hanson ceremoniously opened a revamped Church Street. The project was part of the £37m City Challenge  scheme and was intended to give Church Street a Mediterranean style which would attract new visitors to the town. It involved the refurbishment of several buildings and their frontage which had fallen into disrepair, the laying of block paving, the planting of several trees and the construction of a glass canopy on one side of the street. The present Labour Council expect work to begin soon on its own £7.35m scheme to once again ‘regenerate’ Church Street, This time the claim is it
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