‘Partnership is strength’

Stephen Catchpole
Stephen Catchpole

THE man at the helm of a job creation agency said Hartlepool will be stronger for being part of a new partnership which is aimed at boosting the region’s economy.

The Tees Valley is one of only 24 areas around the country to be named as a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), giving it greater responsibility in areas such as housing, planning, local transport, employment, enterprise and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.

Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), was speaking at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee, where he gave an update on the area securing LEP status.

The TVU is undergoing the transition from an informal public/private partnership with no legal status into a sub-regional LEP.

Mr Catchpole said: “The whole essence of the LEP is that it is on a sub-regional basis. It is sometimes difficult to see what you get on an individual basis, but we can work together to influence the Government as a sub-region.

“We need to work together. As a borough you are stronger with us than without.”

He added that it is going to be a “very difficult, long hard road that we all have to go down together”, but it was the job of TVU to put the “building blocks” in place.

Mr Catchpole said officers and councillors from neighbouring local authorities were also committed to driving the economy forward and that it was “absolutely vital” that the private sector is included.

He added: “The private sector needs to see that there is a real benefit to the five boroughs working as one.”

Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves said it was important to help develop a multi-skilled work force of the future and to promote businesses in town.

All five local authorities in the Tees Valley put money towards TVU, with Hartlepool Borough Council contributing £315,000.

Hartlepool and the Tees Valley have emerged as one of the biggest bidders for funds under the first round of the Regional Growth Fund.

There were 27 bids put forward by TVU asking for almost £80m.

Nine of the bids are from companies in the private sector who collectively have plans to invest over £820m within the next three years, creating 1,650 new jobs and safeguarding a further 850 posts.