MP WRITES: We’re northern too!

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The five city councils of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle have come together to establish ‘One North’, a blueprint for connecting those big Northern cities and to establish an economic powerhouse to rival London and the South East.

I am keen to see the North prosper and thrive, and well performing cities can help deliver this, particularly if they are well connected with a decent transport system.

The One North vision is good in this respect.

However, I don’t think the North is merely the M62 corridor from the Mersey to the Humber, with Newcastle thrown in as well.

I’m sure the likes of Sunderland and Durham will have a few words to say about this. Hartlepool certainly has a big role to play in the future economic prosperity of the North.

I think there is little point in trying to replicate or imitate what other parts of the country are trying to do.

It seems pointless and a waste of time to think that this part of the world can become a major financial services centre that can rival Edinburgh, Leeds or even the City of London.

That’s not where our strengths lie. We should be taking advantage of our traditional excellence in engineering, high value manufacturing and energy production and distribution and applying it to the modern world to create good, well-paid jobs.

Our area’s strengths in chemicals, process industries and technology used in oil and gas should also be exploited.

I think the One North document could have gone into greater detail about how us in Hartlepool and in the Teesside area would be able to be linked up to the plan.

It seems to me that the A19 is an important strategic road not just for travellers to and from Hartlepool but as a main artery for a significant part of the nation’s economic activity. It connects the Port of Tyne with North Yorkshire and has the likes of Nissan on its doorstep.

We are located more or less in the middle of that important road and should seek to benefit from those links, especially as we have a significant port that will ship exports overseas, helping our balance of payments.

How businesses get their goods to and from this country are a key part of economic success – I would think that Hartlepool and the wider area should be seen as important in that regard.

In the 19th century, London was the world’s most significant city.

However, this was not achieved at the expense of other parts of the country.

Other successful regions contributed massively to the economic well-being of Britain, particularly this part of the world.

That should be the model for the 21st century too. Better connectivity between the North is a big part of future economic success, but the five cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle cannot be seen as the only successes in the North – Hartlepool, Durham, Teesside and others need to play their part and be connected too.

On a separate note, I think the whole town will have been thrilled to see Hartlepudlian Savannah Marshall beat Ariane Fortin to win the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It was a gutsy performance and was great to see Savannah bounce back after the disappointment in the Olympics two years ago.

Sport provides many lessons for life, and Savannah shows that hard work, ambition and dedication can pay off after disappointments and setbacks.

We might not be able to win gold medals, but those values that propelled Savannah to gold in Glasgow can certainly be good lessons for life.

Well done Savannah – the whole of Hartlepool is very proud of your victory.