Hartlepool council officials back our NEvolution campaign to boost business

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A CAMPAIGN to bring more power to the North-East for transport schemes could be exactly what the region needs.

That’s according to two senior Hartlepool Borough Council officials who talked to the Mail to praise NEvolution, the campaign being run by newspapers including the Hartlepool Mail to bring more devolved power to the area.

Damien Wilson and Alistair Smith hailed it as “a great concept” as it encouraged areas of the North-East to join forces.

Mr Wilson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s assistant director of regeneration, said: “Its advantage is it paints a picture of a region coming together to try and control its own destiny.”

Mr Smith, the assistant director of transportation and engineering, added: “We are thought of highly in this area when we fight as a collective and we also have a reputation for delivery.”

NEvolution officials say one of the keys to success of the area would be investment in transport so the region can develop strong trade links nationally and internationally.

Mr Wilson said: “Our advantage lies in when we do something across local authority boundaries.

“Yes, we are here to fight for the interests of Hartlepool, but sometimes our interests lie in a scheme for Billingham or Middlesbrough where it could have benefits for us. It has to be for the greater good of the people of Hartlepool.”

Mr Smith highlighted how, in years gone by, every authority was “fighting for scraps on the table.” But he said there were already examples of how the collective approach had paid off.

“We got the enterprise zone for the Tees Valley and Hartlepool got 33 per cent of the land mass of it. We got it through discussions with colleagues across the Tees Valley and not by bullying.

“We also had the Regional Growth Fund and we got 55 per cent of the funding for the Tees Valley.”

Mr Smith said there was a distinct difference between spending on transport per head of population in the North-East and the South-East.

But one of the big advantages was the regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited. Mr Smith said their support had been “invaluable.”

He said regional authorities were already working collectively and NEvolution could only help that further.