THE Mayor of Hartlepool was bombarded with questions yesterday criticising his pay and his acceptance of a second job as chairman of Cleveland Police Authority.
Stuart Drummond was questioned by the public and councillors after delivering his State of the Borough address at Hartlepool Sixth Form yesterday.
Out of 17 questions from the floor, eight were about or brought up the mayor's new police role.
Many were concerned he would not be able to devote enough time to Hartlepool and others said he should give up some of his allowance of £64,000 a year after accepting the £28,000-a-year Cleveland Police job.
One Hartlepool taxpayer said: "The mayor has often said, 'The mayor of Hartlepool is a 24-7 job' and 'I have a huge job in Hartlepool.' Given that, how can he justify this second job at £28,000?"
Councillor Ray Wells, leader of the Conservative group on the council, asked: "Is your decision to increase the size of the cabinet so you are free to pursue other jobs?"
However Mr Drummond gave a stout defence of his decision to take on the role of police authority chairman.
He said the decision to increase the size of the cabinet by one member had not cost more money because the new member, Councillor Chris Simmons, was already leader of the Labour group and was not being paid any more money.
He said that being in a position of influence on the police authority helped him protect the interests of Hartlepool and look after services such as neighbourhood policing at a time of Government cuts.
He said: "This is the first time anyone from Hartlepool has had this position.
"If I was a resident I would want the best voice for Hartlepool on the authority."
Mr Drummond added that he was still working full time for Hartlepool and was often answering emails at midnight and even on the beach on holiday.
Many other candidates for mayor had been businessmen who had not offered to give up their business. He would not cut his salary because the level of his responsibility had not been cut.
"If anybody here is being honest, " he said, "and they were given a chance of a position of more responsibility and money they would take it.
"I'm like anyone else in the world who wants to better himself."