Budget shows the benefit of a mayor

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen at the South Tees Development Corporation.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen at the South Tees Development Corporation.

In Monday’s Budget, we once again saw how having a Mayor – whoever it may be – continues to benefit Hartlepool.

Two big announcements – topping up our transport fund to £75million, and creating a Special Economic Area on the South Tees Development Corporation site in Redcar – are huge steps forward.

The Special Economic Area is important, because it means we can now reinvest rent and business rates generated on the site to clean up more land. As far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be up to the people of Hartlepool to fund the whole bill on the Redcar site through their taxes – big business should step up too.

Using our £75million transport fund, I’m committed to making movement for the people of Hartlepool faster, safer and easier than ever before.

That’s why we have pledged £4million in funding to the Elwick bypass and cash for cycle route improvements.

Using the Government’s new £500million Housing Infrastructure Fund, I’ll be working with Hartlepool Council to ensure the rest of the bypass is fully funded from London.

We are only receiving this transport fund because we have a directly-elected Mayor. While other regions have to fight over the cash, going cap in hand to Government, we have had it as a guaranteed pay-out.

I have already earmarked £45million of this fund for the transformation of Darlington and Middlesbrough stations, but the benefit will be felt in Hartlepool too. By upgrading Darlington, we can unleash capacity across the rail network meaning more frequent trains in and out of Hartlepool.

We also haven’t forgotten about the new Tees Crossing on the A19, tightening the links over the River Tees for workers, supply chains and visitors.

We’ll be bidding into the Government’s new £28billion roads fund to ensure the project is funded, and the people of Hartlepool can move up and down the A19 without delay.

The devolution of post-19 education has also come one step closer, passing another Parliamentary hurdle. From next year, because our area has a Mayor, we will take control of a £30.5million fund to equip local people with the skills our businesses desperately need.

Thanks to this, we will be able to make sure learners in the town can get the skills they need to get on and achieve their potential.

As we end free movement of people from the EU, I will use this fund to ensure local workers come first to fill the jobs of tomorrow which are being created across the area.

We have delivered a huge cash injection into Hartlepool for lots of projects and schemes, but this is just the start. We’ve come a long way, but there’s so much more to do.