Division in South Tyneside Council's Labour group as suspended councillor called to meeting over vote

Simmering tensions among members of the Labour Party in South Tyneside have flared up again, with a councillor facing further warnings over her ‘conduct’.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 11:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 12:48 pm
The meeting was held at South Shields Town Hall.

Angela Hamilton, who was stripped of the Labour whip last year, has been requested to meet party chiefs to ‘discuss’ her behaviour.

The Beacon and Bents councillor was handed the summons within minutes of the conclusion of the latest meeting of South Tyneside Council, on Thursday, January 16, where she backed opposition calls to overhaul council procedures.

“How can they say they want to speak to me about my conduct before they have seen my conduct?,” said Coun Hamilton.

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Coun John McCabe.

“There was nothing wrong with my behaviour as far as I’m concerned, I asked for clarification from the leader when I spoke and he didn’t clarify, so I had no choice but to vote for openness and transparency.

“There’s only one reason you don’t want people to know [how you’re voting] and that’s because you’re not voting the way the people who elected you want you to.

“I always do my best to represent the views of the people who elected me and if they’re scared of doing that that is a worry for me.”

A pair of motions presented to the last council meeting and proposed by five of South Tyneside’s six opposition councillors, plus Coun Hamilton, had demanded rule changes to make it easier to table motions and force councillors to hold ‘named votes’.

Currently, six councillors must endorse a motion for it to be presented to the full council. The same number is needed to ensure all votes for or against a council decision are recorded, rather than simply using a show of hands.

Coun John McCabe, chief whip for the council’s Labour group, confirmed Coun Hamilton remained suspended from the Labour whip after previously backing an opposition motion on climate change in July 2019 and that a letter had been prepared in advance of the latest meeting after she added her name to the opposition motion, which he claimed was against Labour Party rules.

He said: “Coun Hamilton signed a declaration to uphold the Labour Party rules and the rules of the South Tyneside Labour Party group and abide by our code of conduct.

“There is not a great deal more I can say because it is private and confidential and I’m surprised she has made this private matter public.”

Coun McCabe added ‘of course’ there was still an opportunity for Coun Hamilton to repair her relationships with party colleagues ‘but she consistently refuses to be a part of the group’.