BEN HOUCHEN: With the foundations I've put in place this can be a golden age of investment
I’m truly honoured and humbled that local people from across Hartlepool have once again put their faith in me as mayor and I'm very proud to be able to continue with what we have started.
In my first term as Mayor, I concentrated on laying the foundations. The powers-that-used-to-be across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool were lethargically content to let our airport be turned into a housing estate, to see the former SSI site lie redundant, and to accept the decline of our region.
I set out to change that. I brought our airport into public ownership and saved it from closure and started delivering a 10-year rescue plan that has already landed more airlines flying to more destinations. I secured all the land at the former SSI steelworks from the Thai banks, and have set about breathing new life into the site now reborn as Teesworks, the UK’s biggest development opportunity. And I banged down the doors in the corridors of power, making the case for a Freeport stretching from Teesside Airport to the Port of Hartlepool, massive investment in our transport infrastructure, and the relocation of top civil service jobs to our amazing region.
Over the last four years we’ve made huge progress. Now it’s time to move onto the next phase so that we can deliver thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs. A true jobs tsunami for local workers from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
We need to secure the big investments that will deliver the fantastic local people deserve. There are amazing opportunities now in offshore energy, bioengineering, and hydrogen technology. With the foundations I’ve put in place this can be a golden age of investment across our region, that will ensure we bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever before.
Top of the to-do list has to be supercharging progress at Teesworks and getting our Freeport open for business. I’m determined to get even more local people on-site at Teesworks, progressing faster, and paving the way for more major employers like GE Renewable Energy to move in. Hartlepool is a key part of the Teesside Freeport and once up and running it will be a beacon of international trade and investment and, more importantly, it will support thousands of good quality jobs for people from across Hartlepool.
I’ve heard what local people want, and I’m determined to deliver it. From getting ahead with the airport recovery plan, to holding the government to its promises on civil service jobs, to making sure Hartlepool gets more investment as part of Britain’s green industrial revolution, I’m not going to rest till the job is done.