There is no point in ducking the fact that the local elections last Thursday sent a huge message to the major political parties and were a disaster for both Labour and the Conservatives in equal measure.
The message on Brexit here in the Northern heartlands was get on with it and deliver the outcome of the referendum.
That opinion was reciprocated right across the Tees Valley where Labour not only lost overall control of Hartlepool Council but also Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington and Middlesbrough where also, the position of elected mayor went to an Independent.
To be honest, Labour performed better in Hartlepool than the rest of Teesside, winning three seats, but as a Labour MP who has been faithful to the Brexit message from my constituents I, hand on heart, cannot say that this differential can even give me a modicum of comfort. Somewhere, somehow the Labour message got lost in translation and we need to reflect on that.
I hope we continue to have a progressive Labour led coalition but whoever takes control of the council now will obviously face the same problems that over a decade of Government underfunding and austerity has produced.
The funnel effect of the settlement grant for local authorities will not change for the next financial year and that means the majority of cash will go to children’s and adult care with precious little left for everything else.
With ambition, forward planning, imagination and concentration on those things that matter, we can get ourselves out of the doldrums and be successful once again.
As the Member of Parliament it’s my job to work with any administration, including the Tees Valley Mayor and the new combined authority, for the betterment of the town.
I have worked hard in my relatively short period of office to stabilise the foundations for an ambitious future; meeting all local banks to make sure they don’t disappear from our high street as they have done in other places; meeting businesses to listen to what their needs are, how we can grow the economy, procure local provision and provide jobs; talking up the town wherever I go and bringing people in; challenging inexcusable false and negative portrayals of Hartlepool and it’s people, such as ‘Skint Britain’; banging on the door of the NHS and putting the niggling deterioration of our hospital services into reverse gear whilst seeing off the threat to turn hospital land into a housing estate; banging on the door of Cleveland Police and the Home Office to strengthen policing in our town and stopping the permanent closure of the custody suite; fighting for safe decent homes, challenging absentee and rogue landlords and pushing for better regulation of the private rental sector; successfully opposing the threat to close the Royal Mail distribution centre and strongly supporting ambitious plans to tackle social care needs going forward, including the creation of a Care Academy, a centre of excellence for respite and intermediate care and the policy of looking after our elderly in their own communities; more importantly bringing back into public control as much of the care sector as we can possibly muster.
There are many battles and challenges ahead for our local politicians but I strongly believe not only in the resilience of the people but in our readiness and unique position to actually be rejuvenated in a post Brexit landscape.
Get the deal right with a customs alignment and our specialist steel manufacturing is protected from crippling tariffs; our future as a major port and offshore windfarm provider is there for the taking. Local schools and council projects can, and will, be built by local firms under local procurement policies and, with a fair wind and better share of quota’s, our once proud fishing fleet might make a comeback.