Staff Forced to Sign Confidentiality Clauses Over CarpetgateWorkers involved in the construction and running of the new Hartlepool Centre for Independent Living were forced to sign confidentiality clauses to stop any further information on the real reasons behind the replacement of carpets in the Independent Living Centre leaking out.The design of the building including the internal furniture, fittings and floor coverings had been carried out by a company which specialised in the design of buildings for people with special needs. The internal carpets, for example, had been chosen specifically with autistic people in mind while high-contrast colour interfaces between floorings and furniture had been use to assist those with visual impairments.The carpets were changed at an extra cost of £40,000 solely on the instruction of the Leader of the Council, Christopher Akers-Belcher who had objected to the colour and insisted on the use of council ‘corporate colours’ for the carpets irrespective of the views of the design specialists.When the story first appeared on the Hartlepool Post, Hartlepool Council came up with a variety of reasons ranging from complete denial to the cynical and completely false suggestion that the carpets had been replaced because they were unsuitable for those with autism.The council later claimed that the actual additional cost was only £13,500 as it hoped to use some of the lifted carpet elsewhere.Council staff involved with the project have contacted The Hartlepool Post to express their disgust at the waste of money at a time of redundancies and saying that their jobs had been threatened if they refused to sign the confidentiality clauses in their employment contracts.A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government recently said “confidentiality clauses should not be used to "stop, stifle or control individuals from speaking out about concerns about their employer". comment on this article
The Lights Go Out On HillcarterBankruptcy Petition Filed Against Hotel Owner Morton Mystery surrounds the future of the 32 room Hillcarter Hotel in Church Street which has been unoccupied and in darkness for several days.The hotel owner, Brian Morton, is facing a personal bankrupt order from petitioner Armada Investments Limited of Exeter which filed the petition on 14th November last year. Morton, who owns several businesses in Hartlepool including the Sports Domes and Staincliffe Hotel at Seaton Carew, claimed in 2014 that he was investing £250,000 in the building as part of a refurbishment plan. However, the hotel is understood to have been cut off from the electricity supply as a result of unpaid bills and that it has been using portable generators ever since.The Hartlepool Vision earmarked the 26-bedroom hotel, located in Church Street, as one of eight areas of the town to breathe new life and attract new jobs into Hartlepool. As part of the revamp six extra en-suite bedrooms were created as well as a new sports lounge, a re-fitted Hillcarter Lounge and an ambitious rooftop restaurant.
Staff Struggle to Get Paid Wages from
The practice of not paying employees their due wages is not exactly new to Hartlepool Labour Party; it’s something with which they don’t seem to have a problem. Labour Councillor Angie Wilcox did just that at Manor Residents Association. Staff found themselves having to wait weeks to receive wages and if they were paid at all, some were paid less than the minimum wage and had tax and national insurance payments deducted but not forwarded onto Government departments.No Labour councillor has ever spoken up in support of the Manor Residents employees that were fleeced by one of their own councillors.We shouldn’t be surprised then to see other Labour Councillors lining up for a promotional photo-shoot with another employer who shows the same reticence when it comes to paying his employees, as they did in May 2014.Now a former employee of Brain Morton’s Hillcarter Hotel has chosen to tell of what it’s like to work for one of Hartlepool’s Vision Entrepreneurs.“I was working at the hill carter hotel, and not once got paid! - employees that are currently working there haven't had any wages for months! He then becomes impossible to get hold of and ignores your texts and calls to avoid paying you! He is also the manager of the Staincliffe hotel and the sports domes and staff there aren't getting paid neither! Unless you want to work for free do not apply for those jobs!! My job will be advertised soon I would have thought so just a heads up to everyone !!!”Staff at the Headland’s Mary Rowntrees will be familiar with the story above. When Brian Morton was in control of the up market tea room they experienced similar difficulties.We can’t say if staff at Morton’s other businesses, The Seaton Sports Domes and The Staincliffe Hotel have had similar experiences but neither have been without their own problems.The Sports Domes recently suffered a deflationary experience which Morton claimed was due to a technical malfunction while others suggested that the had been disconnected from the electricity supply after unpaid charges. It’s also been alleged that the Hillcarter Hotel is currently running on generators.Last year, the Staincliffe Hotel business in Seaton was put into administration only to resurface under a new company name immediately afterwards. It’s not known how many creditors were left unpaid as a result.In 2014, there was a rush by the council to spend an undisclosed cash-windfall to be paid by Morton in place of 15 years of installed payments which had been agreed with the council in 2012 for the release of a covenant on the Domes land. The money was never received.
Staff, Mothers and Children of the Footprints Nursery in Masefield Road
Thanks For All Your HelpNow Get Out!Staff and parents at the town’s privately run Footprints Nursery in Masefield Road have been left reeling after Hartlepool Council gave them just 28 days notice to quit the premises.The move comes just weeks after the nursery voluntarily gave up space to help out the nearby Rift House Primary School after the school suffered major fire damage.Now managers at the nursery, which is based at the Children’s Centre building in Masefield Road, say that, without any previous consultation or warning, they have been told by Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs that they must quit the premises within 28 days after the primary school decided to run the same service for two-year old children from September. Council chiefs say Footprintsoperated nursery services for two-year-olds within Rift House Children’s Centre, while Rift House School Nursery was operated for children age three and four from within the school building. But now the school is looking to expand its nursery provision into an integrated service to include two-year-olds from within the Children’s Centre from September. A letter to parents and carers written by Footprints Learning for Life Limited company director and owner Sharon Birch states:“As you know we kindly let Rift House School Nursery have our building after the devastating arson attack. “Unfortunately, it was SATs week, and as we have always worked in partnership with our local authority and other providers and businesses, we agreed to vacate for a short time. “We were hoping to have the building back at the beginning of half-term. “Unfortunately, the local authority has extended this period, and we were told we could not be back in the building until July 24.“However, yesterday, July 4, without consultation or consideration, we were informed that our tenancy contract with the local authority would be terminated with 28 days’ notice so that Rift House School nursery could occupy it from September to deliver the services we currently provide. “Therefore it is with deep regret that we have to inform you that Footprints LFL Nursery will no longer provide a service from the Rift House Children’s Centre.”
A Hartlepool Borough Council
spokesman said: “In 2013, Rift House
was highlighted as an area where there were insufficient nursery places
for two-year-olds. “The council has a duty to ensure sufficient childcare
places are available which are accessible for families across the town
and, as a result of this, Footprints began to deliver a service for two-year-
olds from Rift House Children’s Centre.
“The adjacent Rift House Primary School offered nursery provision for three and four-year-olds and would now like to develop their own provision to include two-year-olds. “Following the recent fire, which destroyed much of the school, they want to work in partnership with the council to provide an integrated nursery service from the Children’s Centre from September.”
On-Line Petition“Sadly our nursery has been given 28 days to leave the rift house sure start centre, as a mother of a child who goes to this nursery we are all deeply saddened by this 'out of the blue' news, I can say what a brilliant nursery this is and to all the staff who work very hard to make sure the children have a fun filled educational day, they go the extra mile making them reach milestones, it will be very sad to see it go.I ask everyone to sign this petition to save our footprints at rift house!”Katie Richardson