AN investigation is to take place looking at what sanctions can be imposed against a North East councillor who pleaded guilty to assault last month.

Councillor Gordon Cranney was re-elected to Hartlepool's Seaton ward in the May local elections – just a week after he pleaded guilty to assault by beating against a woman at Teesside Magistrates Court.

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He was subsequently suspended by the Conservative Party and later resigned from the group, leaving him sitting as an independent councillor.

At Hartlepool Borough Council’s annual meeting yesterday (Tuesday, May 24), Labour’s Councillor Jonathan Brash called for local authority legal chiefs to explore sanctions they can impose on Cllr Cranney in a “timely and as fast as possible manner”.

The Northern Echo: Councillor Gordon CranneyCouncillor Gordon Cranney

The motion was unanimously backed by all councillors in the chamber, including Cllr Cranney, who said he would “see what happens” with the outcome of the investigation.

Cllr Brash said: “We cannot allow such behaviour to go unchallenged and the reality is we have a criminal in our midst.

“We have someone convicted of a crime of violence against women, this cannot go unchallenged by this body, it will never go unchallenged by this body.

“Being elected to public office has integrity and it has standards and we will not stand by while someone denigrates those.”

The deputy leader of the Labour group said the Government’s response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life showed there are several actions potentially available to the local authority.

He said these could include the councillor being barred from attendance at committee meetings, and any public representative role, including ward surgeries.

He added councils have “in rare instances, it was accepted by the government, the power to bar a councillor from all council premises”.

The motion will now go to the council audit and governance committee to investigate what sanctions can be implemented.

At the meeting, Cllr Sue Little, Seaton ward representative, called on Cllr Cranney to resign and contest the resulting by-election if he wished to continue to allow “the residents to make their decision”.

Earlier this week, posting on social media, Cllr Cranney confirmed he intends to stay on as an independent councillor and would “help everyone where needed, no matter what”.

Speaking after the annual council meeting he added he would “see what happens” with the investigation, adding he voted in favour of it.

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