AS Editor of the Hartlepool Mail, I am delighted that our newspaper is championing our independent businesses with our ‘Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local’ campaign.
The newspaper is very much at the heart of the local community so it’s appropriate that we should be offering our support - and, hopefully, the support of our loyal readers as well - to the many unique outlets at the heart of our town centre and surrounding areas.
Our high streets have been squeezed for many years by out-of-town developments and increasing use of the internet, but they are now making a resurgence and it’s up to us to help ensure that they not only survive but prosper in the future.
Increasingly, shopping is being seen as a leisure pursuit and, while the town centres must adapt to that by ensuring the facilities are up to standard and the night-time economy is supported and sustainable, we can play a part too.
Every pound spent locally can have huge benefits for the area, helping local businesses who, in turn, will employ local people.
The campaign comes at a great time for Hartlepool.
Most people will now have heard of the Vision for Hartlepool plans which could see 2,000 new jobs created, and huge areas of town such as Jacksons Landing/Trincomalee Wharf, Church Street, Seaton Carew, and the Headland, regenerated.
That’s the kind of initiative we should all want. One which shows a desire to build on the fantastic attraction we already have.
Hartlepool is part of the Tees Valley City Deal which could bring more than £10m of private sector investment in the industrial infrastructure and workforce. City Deal devolves power to towns and cities to make more decisions for themselves.
It will mean having more responsibility in our hands and that fits in well with the aims of our new campaign, to keep our future under our own influence.
We have plenty of other plus points. Hartlepool’s sector of the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone has attracted the most business so far. That means more money for the town.
With a vibrant new look and more spending power in the area, we must make sure it is invested in the local economy. It will be no easy task. Like towns all over the country, we are still tentatively emerging from the recession,
But Hartlepool has an advantage over other areas. We have a togetherness, a fighting spirit and a determination to succeed which is often remarked upon by outsiders.
It has been said before that Hartlepool is the biggest village in the world. It is reference to the fact that we’re all in it together and we all know each other.
Let’s use that to our advantage. Let’s move forward with a community spirit that will be the envy of other towns.
Let’s keep trade local. Let’s dine at the fantastic restaurants that we have here, and let’s use the great leisure facilities such as the Maritime Experience, the parks, the sands at Seaton Carew.
Over the course of this year, we will be throwing the spotlight on some of the successful businesses in the area, while bringing you great deals to allow you to sample some of the fantastic products and services they have on offer.
And, as well as regular slots in the paper, you can check out our stories and videos online, as well as following us, and our sister papers, across the country on Twitter using the hashtag #jpshoplocal.
Play your part by pledging to ‘Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local’!