Hartlepool has much to celebrate, says leader

Christopher Akers-Belcher and Gill Alexander. Picture by FRANK REID
Christopher Akers-Belcher and Gill Alexander. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool’s council leader says he is “extremely positive” for the future of the town with the authority’s ambitions starting to take shape.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, who was re-elected in this month’s local elections by just 80 votes, is to continue in the role of leader.

Speaking at the start of the new municipal year, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “Much of the last 12 to 18 months have been spent laying the foundations for the bold and exciting major regeneration of key areas of the town in the coming years and already there is much to celebrate.

“Our ambition for the town is clear, and we are starting to deliver on this. The arrival of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool is one of many exciting developments and presents an opportunity to attract visitors to the town on a national and international scale.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said despite ongoing Government funding cuts, the town has secured millions in other funding, including £7 million to redevelop Church Street and a new £11 million for Cleveland College of Art and Design to create a new Innovation and Skills Quarter.

“In addition, Hartlepool has led on a major youth employment initiative on behalf of the Tees Valley, which has resulted in £19m of funding to help 6,500 young people into education, employment or training,” he said.

Councillor Akers-Belcher added: “I’m extremely positive about the future. There continues to be a high level of interest from businesses keen to invest in Hartlepool, and this is evident by the wide range of housing and retail developments which are taking place.

“At the same time we will continue to support local businesses to help them prosper, create jobs and stimulate economic growth.”

He said the council will fight to keep and return services to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

“We are also at the forefront of a piece of work to better integrate health and social care services which will benefit local residents,” said Coun Akers-Belcher.

Work will continue towards every school in Hartlepool being rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

The figure is currently at 84% and Coun Akers-Belcher said it is expected to get better in the coming months.

The council’s free swimming scheme for youngsters will run for the whole of the six week school holidays this year.

Coun Akers-Belcher said the council was providing more support for vulnerable families through the Hartlepool Living Wage and Local Council Tax Support scheme.

He added: “I am really looking forward to the next couple of years as developments unfold in Hartlepool and I’ll continue to work with all councillors to achieve the very best for our town, and make sure it is a place where people are proud to live, learn, work and visit.”