WE are not too far away from the time for new year resolutions. So perhaps we can make a start on positive planning for getting more money and jobs into Hartlepool in the years to come.
I was telling you last week about my admiration for the German city of Dusseldorf which has turned itself into a major European business centre with its “can do” attitude and its superb transport links.
As well as that, it has a thriving tourist industry and, if we wanted to, we could pick up some pointers on how to do it here.
During the time I was there earlier this month, the Christmas market season was in full swing and you could hear the tills jingling along with the festive bells.
You may well have been to one of these lovely markets yourself, whether on the continent or at one of the paler imitations here in the UK.
Now this is where my cunning plan for Hartlepool comes in.
Do tell me if I’m wrong, but the nearest examples of anything approaching a half-decent Christmas market would be in Edinburgh, Manchester and York.
Nobody in the North-East is doing the job, so why not bite the bullet and get a real one going here next year?
And I don’t just mean a few stalls for a few days – I meant the real McCoy from the first day of December right through until just before the day itself.
After a real burst of hard hitting publicity, the product would carry itself – the Hartlepool Christmas market would be the place to be.
And no excuses. A place like Dusseldorf has a very similar climate to ours and a not too different customer population which it can attract locally and from the nearby region.
The atmosphere of Christmas lights and smells puts people into the mood to spend and it’s not just the market holders themselves who make the money.
I was in Germany mid-week and every nearby bar and restaurant was heaving with customers.
On the fringe of the market, there were dozens of coaches parked up bearing names of bigger cities not too far away.
Many years ago, no-one in Dusseldorf presumed that they couldn’t make it work and they get thousands of visitors every year from big cities like Cologne.
In the same way, we could draw numbers from Sunderland and Newcastle just up the road.
Location is obviously important and we have sites like Seaton, the Headland and the Marina which would lend themselves well.
There’s something about being near water in the winter – it must make you feel cosier.
Dusseldorf has the Rhine and we have the North Sea so that’s one up on them.
If you’ve seen the genuine article of a real German Christmas market, you will know how good it is and its power as a money-spinner too.
There are millions of people in the North East who would love one close to home and it would be good if we were the first to deliver the goods.