Health chiefs back USA-style wealth-building drive for Hartlepool

Health chiefs in Hartlepool backed the importance of investing in the town to benefit everyone as part of a wealth-building programme.

By Nic Marko
Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 6:00 am
Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

Earlier this year Hartlepool Borough Council put forward initial work exploring what a local community wealth-building strategy would look like for the town.

The approach, which was developed initially by the Democracy Collaborative in the USA, aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone.

In recent years the council has undertaken its own community wealth-building drive, ensuring staff are given the national living wage, prioritising local procurement and focusing on regeneration and economic democracy.

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Hartlepool Borough Council has been working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and the Wharton Trust to explore what a community wealth building strategy could look like in Hartlepool.

Findings from a study from the CLES said Hartlepool is in a ‘well placed’ to move forward with the model.

It said: “For a community wealth building approach to thrive in Hartlepool, the key public, private and social anchor institutions in place need to travel the same path.

“We would suggest building on the momentum of the recently launched campaign #LoveHartlepool, to invite the public sector to play their part showing how passionate they are about the town and the potential economic impacts from working together for the good of the town.”

Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board last month considered how local community wealth building could benefit the town.

Dr Nick Timlin, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group representative, said the move can help benefit the town financially and in other ways.

He said: “One of the things we’ve done is we do a personal specification of the staff we employ, putting down if they live in Hartlepool or nearby.

“We found that we actually do lose staff to other areas, we had a paramedic from Newcastle trained up, a brilliant guy, and now he’s gone back to Newcastle.

“So it has some benefits to do this [community wealth building], not just to the economy.”

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Shane Moore backed the idea but said it was important there was a buy in from key partners in the area.

He said: “There have been some really good discussions that have been had over the last couple of months around this subject but it does just require a certain level of buy in from our partners, we do need people to actually follow up.

“I would really urge those partner organisations that have been around the table, or if your organisation currently isn’t but you think it would be worthwhile getting involved with these conversations, please do get in touch.”

Coun Stephen Thomas, Healthwatch Hartlepool representative, said community wealth building is crucial to many health projects, such as ensuring there is a health care system that works for all children.

He said: “So much of the success of this strategy links in to some of these key principles which we’re talking about with community wealth building.

“It needs to be linked in to a thriving community and communities within Hartlepool, which are underpinned by an effective community wealth building strategy.”

Coun Ged Hall also stressed the importance of buying local in Hartlepool and getting organisations large and small involved.

He said: “There is a lot of good will and good hope in Hartlepool to contribute to this.”

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