VOTERS will have the chance to go to the polls to shape the make-up of Hartlepool Borough Council this week.

Polling stations open at 7am on Thursday, May 5, with a total of 41 candidates standing for the 13 seats on the local authority up for election. 

One councillor will be voted in for each of the 12 wards across the borough, apart from Rural West, where there will be two.

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This is due to the death of Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Brenda Loynes earlier this year after a long and brave fight against cancer.

Polls will close at 10pm on Thursday, with the results coming through in the early hours of Friday morning.

Here is a guide to what the council looks like currently and what could happen next.

Current council make-up:

After all-out elections last year, Hartlepool Borough Council is currently made up of 12 Conservative councillors, 11 Labour members, two Hartlepool Independent Union representatives and 10 Independents.

There is one vacant seat in Rural West, which had previously been held by Conservative Councillor Brenda Loynes until her death earlier this year.

The council is at present led by a coalition between Conservative, Independent Union and some Independent councillors.

Seats up for election:

Of the 13 seats up for election, seven are currently held by Labour councillors, including in De Bruce, where deputy group leader Councillor Jonathan Brash is defending his seat against Conservative James Brewer.

Labour’s Councillor Jennifer Elliott is also hoping to hold her seat in an election rematch against Bob Buchan, now representing the Conservatives, after the result between the two last year was subject to a High Court challenge.

Councillor Shane Moore, council leader since May 2019 and Hartlepool Independent Union representative, is up for re-election in the Headland and Harbour ward, facing competition from Labour and Conservative candidates.

Elsewhere Conservatives are defending seats in Rural West and Seaton, while positions up for election in Hart and Foggy Furze are currently held by Independents.

What happens next:

Hartlepool Borough Council will hold its annual general meeting later this month, where it will be confirmed who takes up key roles on the council, including leader, deputy leader and ceremonial mayor.

For a party to have an overall majority, they must hold 19 of the 36 seats, which means if one group does not have this outright after the elections, cross-party talks will be held over potential agreements and coalitions.

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