CONCERNS have been raised about a possible breach of election rules after a council executive seemed to endorse an initiative by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen on the eve of voters going to the polls.

A now-deleted post appeared on Hartlepool Borough Council’s Facebook page on Wednesday night, hours before polls in the town opened on Thursday.

The post quoted the council’s managing director Denise McGuckin, who praised an initiative by the Conservative mayor.

Read more: When results from local elections in North East and Yorkshire are expected

There are strict rules about what councils can say in the pre-election period, previously known as “purdah”.

Authorities are not meant to issue “any publicity which seeks to influence voters”.

The post was published on Wednesday evening with the #NowisTheTime

It said: “Hartlepool is experiencing a revival and is fast becoming a fantastic place to live, work and invest and we welcome the news the Tess (sic) Valley Mayor is set to establish a new Mayoral Development Corporation for our Borough.

“Our Managing Director – Denise McGuckin – says it highlights the faith Ben Houchen has in the significant developments which already been achieved in Hartlepool: “Don’t forget, we’re already on a really exciting journey to transform our Borough and it great the Mayor recognises this and wants to play his own part in the story.

“Everywhere you look there are clear signs we’re delivering significant change within Hartlepool.”


Former Labour MP Anna Turley shared the post on Twitter, highlighting that as the council’s managing director, Ms McGuckin will act as the returning officer in today’s elections.

The returning officer for an election is the person responsible for the conduct of the election, including the voting process.

Read more: Hartlepool Tories urge voters not to 'punish' candidates for 'mistakes'

Hartlepool Borough Council has not yet responded to requests for a comment. 

Voters in Hartlepool will elect 13 councillors today.

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

The results are expected in the early hours of the morning. 

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