Councillor calls teacher's boss after he raised questions over contract (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Investigation underway after Hartlepool councillor calls teacher's boss after he raised questions over contract
A COUNCILLOR has been criticised for phoning a member of the public’s employer the day after he asked questions at a public meeting.
Teacher David Riddle, 35, said he “couldn’t believe it” when his headmaster told him that the councillor had called.
However, Ged Hall, former leader of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Labour group, said he had no intention of getting Mr Riddle sacked or even disciplined and that he had merely called to put forward a "point of information".
Mr Riddle, a teacher at English Martyrs School, Hartlepool, has made a complaint to Hartlepool Borough Council which is under investigation.
He has also called on Coun. Hall to resign.
“My questions were perfectly legitimate and I don’t know what was said or why he called," said Mr Riddle. "The questions were legitimate. I couldn’t believe it.”
Coun Hall said he was prepared to offer a qualified apology to Mr Riddle and provide him with more information.
The trouble began at a full council meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre on Thursday, February 14, when Mr Riddle took an opportunity ask elected mayor Stuart Drummond about a £640,000 contract awarded to an organisation called Who Care North East which delivers social care.
The contract, awarded through the department Coun Hall was responsibile for at the time, wasn’t put out to tender and the matter did not go before full council.
Coun Hall told The Northern Echo today (Monday, March 11) there was no question of any wrongdoing in awarding the contract, explaining that under special rules a large contract can be awarded at the end of a financial year if it’s for health or social care provision and is urgent.
In fact the council took care to call a specialist barrister who gave firm advice there was nothing wrong, he added.
Coun Hall said: “It’s totally untrue, absolutely false, that I called the headteacher - who I know - to be vindictive in any way.
"I don’t blame Mr Riddle for his questions and I know where they come from.
"There’s a lot of politics, jostling for position in the council at the minute and I think he’s been set up. He can come and see me to talk about it and I’m prepared to offer him a qualified apology but I’ll also put him right on a few matters of information.”
Michael Lee, the headteacher at the school, said that he was satisfied that the matter does not involve the school.