FIRST of all I want to thank the people who have telephoned me to congratulate me on becoming the new leader of Putting Hartlepool First.
I am just like you out there.
I’m mad about the loss of the University Hospital of Hartlepool, about the lack of buses, about the lack of jobs and the high level of council tax.
I’m mad about the money being wasted doing landlords’ houses up for them, only for their tenants to trash them again, when ordinary home owners have to fund their own maintenance.
I’m not a brain-washed politician.
I’m an electrician by trade. An ordinary bloke who decided to try and do something about the way the town is being run.
So I joined Putting Hartlepool First.
I wanted to see the sort of common-sense decisions being made that would be made by all of the other ordinary people like me.
Such decisions would not include spending tens of thousands of pounds on outside consultants to produce yet another unfunded ‘Vision’ while, at the same time, we are cutting back on support given to the house-bound.
The low wage jobs that come with tourism and retail are not the long-term answer for the town’s problems.
Real jobs, with wages decent enough to support a family, are what is needed.
Hartlepool’s heart is as a manufacturing town.
We make things. We don’t turn down beds for a living and we don’t do lattes.
If that’s the best we are planning to offer our kids after 11 years of education then we need to think again.
Terraced houses have long been the first step on the property ladder for young couples in Hartlepool just starting off in life.
Yet we are demolishing them left, right and centre to replace them with £110,000 ‘affordable homes’.
Anyone with their feet on the ground knows they are nothing of the sort.
How many of our young couples can afford such mortgages?
And how many of those who have taken on such debt will be able to cope when interest rates start to rise in 2015?
It’s been said, or at least implied, that at 74 I’m too old to lead the only viable challenge to the Labour Group in Hartlepool, but fortunately I’m still a very active person.
Even so, I do agree that younger people should consider becoming councillors.
The inability to connect with the younger generations is one of Hartlepool Borough Council’s biggest failures.
I’ve been a councillor for less than two years but already I can tell you that the council is what you always suspected - a very cosy club.
The Labour Group has held power for so long that it has become arrogant and complacent, believing that it can do whatever it likes.
As anyone in Hart will tell you, that has led to some pretty shoddy decisions being made.
Someone needs to challenge this arrogance.
The people most determined and best placed to do so are Putting Hartlepool First.
Councillor Keith Dawkins,