I warmly welcome the £5m injection of Government money which will help to improve and regenerate Hartlepool, itself a significant portion of the £13m being invested in the Tees Valley as part of the Conservative’s flagship Growth Deal initiative.
The money will help to improve the A689 and to develop Church Street, a vital area in need of renewed vibrancy and the ‘shop window’ of the town to any visitor first stepping off the train. Capitalising on the undoubted innovation and skills that we have, embodied by institutions like Hartlepool College of Further Education which I visited last week, is central to the revival of the town.
This sort of investment is only made possible by our return to a strong economic position, with Britain now having the fastest rate of growth of any major economy, which this region is directly benefiting from. There are now 27,000 more businesses across the North East than there were in 2010 and last year the region was second only to London for new hi-tech start-ups.
Seeking to retain our bright young people within the town, so that they can help to create wealth and employment, is absolutely right. Those individuals need rewarding for their initiative, aspiration and drive, just as local schools, colleges and businesses need congratulating for nurturing and furthering their ability.
But those young people will not be able to create wealth or future jobs if the Labour Party takes their hard-earned money away from them through extortionate council tax bills, drives their customers to other retail centres through unnecessary parking charges, and binds their industrious hands with red tape.
Nor should we allow the ‘Vision’ – positive as it is in principle – to give the green light to the destruction of Hartlepool’s historic buildings and the continued culture of bulldozing and rebuilding, where upgrading and improving would suffice.
Government grants which only come about through careful planning and saving require equally careful investing. We have a responsibility to spend every penny of peoples’ hard-earned money wisely and to ensure that it is used to create ambition rather than stifle it.