HARTLEPOOL’S council leader says he is optimistic about the town’s future, with exciting times lying ahead.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher has confirmed he will be staying on as the head of the authority for the next 12 months.
The people of Hartlepool have given me and my colleagues a clear mandate to govern, and we will continue to serve townspeople to the very best of our ability.Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader, Hartlepool Borough Council
And he said: “Over the coming months we will see the start of exciting times ahead for the Church Street area.
“Work is soon to begin on the new Cleveland College of Art & Design, and the £5.4m recently awarded to the council will help significantly to bring empty buildings back into use and promote a culture for young entrepreneurs.
“We will also be looking to change the infrastructure so the Church Street area is better connected to the town centre and marina.
“Job creation and support for local businesses will continue to be a high priority in the ongoing efforts to create wealth and investment.
“Queens Meadow is the most successful Enterprise Zone in the Tees Valley and work is under way to create a new £3m workspace development for businesses.”
He said the council also hopes to improve education in the town.
“I’ve said on many occasions, young people are our future, and we’ll continue to support schools in every way we can to drive up standards and ensure children get the best start in life.
“It’s our aim to ensure that by 2016 that every school in Hartlepool is providing a good or excellent standard of education.
“This is an ambitious target, but one which I feel is achievable.
“It is hugely important that we invest in our children and young people because they hold the key to the future success of the town.”
Despite the council seeing a 40 per cent reduction in Government grant funding over the last four years, it has still managed to freeze council tax for that period.
Coun Akers-Belcher said he would be mindful to continue the freeze in 2016, but accepts it’s a decision that has to be taken by all councillors.
He concluded: “Following the local election results, the people of Hartlepool have given me and my colleagues a clear mandate to govern, and we will continue to serve townspeople to the very best of our ability.
“I’ll continue to work together with all councillors, and with support from the rich mix of talented and dedicated officers, I am really looking forward to the next 12 months.”