Mike Hill MP: Surely being more ambitious can attract visitors to Hartlepool

The Glass Ceiling performance in Ward Jackson Park marking 100 years since women got the vote. Picture by Frank Reid
The Glass Ceiling performance in Ward Jackson Park marking 100 years since women got the vote. Picture by Frank Reid

We need a Hartlepool Zoo, or a tower like Blackpool, or even a Vertical Pier like the one in Redcar to draw crowds into Hartlepool. The town that built the Angel of the North needs a similar focal point like the iconic Tommy statue at Seaham to attract tourists in.

These are not my observations but the views of a regular writer to the Hartlepool Mail, Ted Powell.

Ted is no friend of the Labour Party and is the most prolific of letter writers to the Mail, but obviously whilst that matters to me, I have never been shy of pointing out when he is right and has a point.

On this occasion he certainly does and good on the Mail for following his observations up with a survey of responses.

Whilst Ted waxes lyrical about how Seaton Carew cannot ever be expected to pull the amount of punters in because, in his opinion, the council selfishly sacrificed the place by borrowing to build a car park ‘for those who will come’ whilst offering nothing more in return; the reality is that there is mixed opinion about his observations amongst locals and it’s pretty clear there are no ambitions to build anything spectacular anytime soon amongst Seaton residents to draw people in and make the local economy boom – not even a conventional pier.

So whatever the council does it’s up against it.

So well done Ted for at least getting the debate going.

Elsewhere, there are exciting projects happening. Crowdfunding for a First World War commemorative soldier silhouette on the Headland to sit alongside the Heugh Battery is important, as is the crowdfunding for a commemorative poppy field.

These things are important to our local history and involvement in the so called ‘War to end all wars’.

We should never forget the part we played and the loss of both civilian and military lives in the 1914-18 conflict, especially given the bombardment of the Headland and the Zeppelin bombing’s of West Hartlepool, but we really do not have a ‘Tommy’, which Ted rightly states draws people to Seaham, just up the coast.

I spoke recently to a newcomer to Hartlepool and asked them what attracted them to the place. They said the people, the shopping, the closeness of facilities, the history and downright decent and welcoming people.

If people are attracted to live here, we surely can attract more visitors by being more ambitious.

Congratulations therefore to the organisers of the highly successful folk festival which took place last weekend, and the organisers of the Round Table Beer Festival on the Headland. An excellent time was had by all.

For me, the icing on the cake was the production of ‘The Glass Ceiling’ in Ward Jackson Park last Friday. It truly was an amazing event celebrating 100 years since women first got the vote.

I know it’s an exaggeration, but it felt like half the town turned up and just goes to show that there is an appetite for such things in Hartlepool.

Finally, talking about Parks and open spaces, I am very pleased to be one of 500 MPs signed up to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy programme.

Aimed at creating a network of conservation initiatives throughout the 53 nations of the Commonwealth, the idea is to protect indigenous species for generations to come.

I am privileged to be working with local magistrate and community activist Liz Carroll on this project, together with the council, the Woodlands Trust and Sainsbury’s, to plant trees to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives 100 years ago both from our shores and right across the Commonwealth; to provide a place of peace and contemplation and a place of hope and regeneration for the planet and for future generations.