‘We’re all for it’

BUSINESSES all over Hartlepool are already throwing their weight behind the NEvolution campaign.

Strong support is emerging for the Hartlepool Mail-backed project in which the region is pressing for more autonomy and spending power.

The aim is to put pressure on the Government to hand more responsibility to the area at a time when the Comprehensive Spending Review is due at the end of June.

And it’s a project which Hartlepool’s business community is behind.

l The town’s current Hartlepool Business of the Year holders – J&B Recycling – backed the idea. Managing director Vikki Jackson-Smith said: “It is vital to the local economy that areas of enterprise, capital funding support through grants and general business support are managed by the region.”

She said it was a “basic requirement of growth and sustainability” to understand the skills of the workforce and the need for inward investment.

The company is a real success story after lifting the Hartlepool Business of the Year title twice in the last three years.

l Alby Pattison is the managing director of Hart Biologicals.

He said: “It is important that the North-East and Hartlepool is given more responsibility and authority in devolved capability and identity, specific to the needs of the area.

“This area offers great potential for the gross domestic product of the country.

“If you look at the figures, the North-East punches above its weight and we can probably do even better if the skills that are needed, and the growth funding that is needed, were in the hands of more local decision makers.”

The firm won the Exporter of the Year and Manufacturer of the Year crowns at this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards as well as the overall Business of the Year title in the 2012 competition.

Turnover is up by 30 per cent and net exports are also up. Eighty per cent of what the company turns over is export.

The firm has generated new business in the last 12 months including clinching a “big contract in Germany,” said Mr Pattison.

l Janice Auton is the owner of well-established town hairdressers Poppys, based in Victoria Road, and which celebrates 25 years in industry this year.

She hailed NEvolution as a chance to bring investment to the region, especially to boost the skills sector.

She said she would love to see support for firms which are trying to train up the next generation of workers.

Janice added: “I have seen for myself how devolution just makes political sense. It gives control to local government made up of local people who understand the challenges and needs of local cultures, communities and business.”

She said the importance of responsibility at a local level was that it meant “opportunities within focus and steering groups to identify and understand what the regional needs are, and working together to find solutions with funds to support.”

Janice said small businesses had a passion to succeed in a difficult market but financial help for training was “key to sustaining the region”.