Marking sure wealth is spread in Hartlepool as town shapes up for the future

Council chiefs are renewing their efforts to ensure businesses and workers in the town benefit from its projects.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 4:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 6:05 pm
The BIS in Whitby Street is one of the major projects worked on by Hartlepool firms in recent times.

Community ‘wealth-building’ was up for discussion by Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee.

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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Of all the companies receiving an opportunity to quote from Hartlepool Borough Council last year, 43% were Hartlepool local companies, twice the regional average for the North East, and the second highest in the region.

In 2018/19 373 supplier awards were made by the council, of which 190 were awarded to local Hartlepool companies, equating to 51%, compared to the regional average of 28%.

Coun Shane Moore said: “I know the numbers there are showing we are doing extremely well, there’s no denying really.

“Obviously there is more to do. From my point of view as we’ve been going through this programme speaking to some of the anchor institutions, part of the problem is getting round the table.

“They all think it’s a great idea but when it comes to actually doing the work it has been a little bit difficult.”

Coun Mike Young, deputy council leader, added they have to get as many businesses as possible on board to bid for projects.

He said: “What we’ve got to do is find ways through forums to encourage local people and businesses to come on board, and give them the confidence to buy in and tender for these works that we’re doing.”

Examples of Hartlepool firms working on major projects in recent years include the £4.5million work on The BIS, £3.7million on the Church Street works, £1.2million on improving connectivity around Stockton Street and £1.4million on Waterfront public realm works.

However Coun Dave Hunter noted three of the four major projects were by Seymour Civil Engineering, arguing how it was ‘effectively helping one local company’.

Council bosses said much depends on the company’s sub-contracting model, and noted the business is the major civil engineering company in the area.

They added speaking with bosses at Seymour, they are passionate about using Hartlepool employees and recruiting from Hartlepool, shown by the development of the Seymour Civil Engineering Academy off Brenda Road.

Coun Moore said: “He [Seymour’s managing director] genuinely has a passion for the field of work that he’s in. He just wants to make sure that he’s able to pass that on to the next generation moving forward, and that’s what he’s done with the skills academy.”

Coun Paddy Brown praised the work done so far, but reiterated the message there are areas they can improve.

He said: “There is good work done, and it’s credit to the team that do it, but I do think we can improve with local people employment, as opposed to local companies.”