Thursday, 8 May 2008

The Lib/Lab/Con is alive and well in Hartlepool

After the May 1st Elections I posted that the Tories “spoiler” candidates had saved the Labour Group from even bigger defeats. The Tories have now allied with the Lib-Dems to keep Hartlepool Council under LABOUR Control even though Labour no longer has a majority of Members. Labour are the biggest individual group with 23 from 48 Councillors but without an overall majority.

Today was the first (and possibly last) round of the annual horse trading over who will chair which Committees for the coming year. Remember this is very important as CASH is on the table in the form of “extra responsibility allowances” associated with being Chairman of a Committee.

Labour announced they were taking 12 of the available 16 Chairs. These were the Chair of Full Council plus the Chairmanships of Planning, Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee, Constitution Committee, North Neighbourhood Forum, Central Neighbourhood Forum, South Neighbourhood Forum, Health Scrutiny, Culture and Learning Scrutiny, Regeneration Scrutiny, Children's Service Scrutiny and Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny.

With the nod from Labour the Lib-Dems took 2 Chairs (General Purposes and Audit Committee.) plus Vice Chair of Full Council. The Tories, again with the nod from Labour took the last 2 chairs (Licensing and Contract Scrutiny).

So that gave Labour 12 Chairs (including Chair of Full Council), Lib-Dems 2 Chairs (plus the Vice Chair of Full Council), the Tories 2 Chairs and the Admin Group nothing at all.

The Admin Group, who are remember the second biggest group on the Council After Labour, proposed that the Chair of the Full Council should go to the Lib-Dems with a Labour Vice Chair. Plus Chair of Regeneration Scrutiny, Chair of Children's Service Scrutiny and Chair of North Neighbourhood Forum should go to the Admin Group.

Obviously the Admin Group proposal required the Labour Group to accept they were no longer in the Majority in Hartlepool Council and allow none Labour Councillors to take some positions of responsibility within the Council. The Admin Group proposals would have split the Chairs as follows.

Labour with 23 Councillors, 8 Chairs and Vice Chair of Full Council.

Admin with 10 Councillors, 3 Chairs.

Lib Dems with 6 Councillors, 3 Chairs including Chair of Full Council

Tories with 5 Councillors, 2 Chairs.

This seemed to be eminently fair and balanced and even still slightly over generous to Labour if anything. The Tories still got exactly what they wanted, the Lib Dems actually did better out of this proposal and the Admin Group was able to contribute. Labour still had the biggest slice of the pie but they lost overall control, reflecting the situation after the last elections.

The Labour response


they refused to even discuss it.

The Lib-Dems and Tories then BOTH backed Labour.

Despite losing overall control on May 1st the Labour Group is going to hold onto 12 out of 16 Chairs, including the Chair of Full Council and all the Scrutiny Forums and all the neighbourhood forums.

Next time the people of Hartlepool vote Lib-Dem or Tory maybe they should remember that when it comes down to it the Lib-Dems and Tories both voted to keep the Labour Group in power.

The Lib/Lab/Con is alive and well in Hartlepool.

What price Democracy?

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