Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper visit Hartlepool

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Sir Keir Starmer today said his Labour Party want to earn as many seats as possible in Hartlepool with a “positive case” at the upcoming local elections.

The Labour leader told the Mail the party would freeze council tax if they were in power, sharing his hopes of earning “as many votes as possible” at the council election in May.

Hartlepool Borough Council is currently run by a Conservative and independent coalition.

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Asked if Labour can win the upcoming local elections, Mr Starmer told the Mail: "In Hartlepool, we want to earn as many votes as possible and as many seats as possible and we do that with a very positive case, which is to say that if there’s one thing that I think concerns people in Hartlepool above all else, it’s the cost of living crisis, this sense of not being able to pay the bills.

Yvette Cooper and Keir Starmer visited Hartlepool on Monday (April 3).Yvette Cooper and Keir Starmer visited Hartlepool on Monday (April 3).
Yvette Cooper and Keir Starmer visited Hartlepool on Monday (April 3).

"Energy bills have gone up, the weekly shop has gone up, almost every bill has gone up. Wages, of course haven’t.”

He added: "This week and last week council bills are going up, so we’ve said if we were in power, we would freeze those bills, so you wouldn’t face that increase, not a penny more this year than you paid last year.

"We would use the excess profits from all the gas companies that haven’t been taxed properly to pay for that. So it’s a clear political choice.

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"We want to ensure that our positive case is properly heard and hopefully we can earn those votes.”

(Left to right) Yvette Cooper, Sacha, Jonathan Brash and Keir Starmer.(Left to right) Yvette Cooper, Sacha, Jonathan Brash and Keir Starmer.
(Left to right) Yvette Cooper, Sacha, Jonathan Brash and Keir Starmer.

Mr Starmer was joined by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper during his visit to the town on Monday, April 3, and met with residents at The Annexe community centre, in Wharton Terrace, to discuss anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool.

Town residents described how stones and eggs were thrown at their windows.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour want to increase police presence on the streets to make the town safer.

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"We want to see more police and PCSOs on the streets here in Hartlepool,” Ms Cooper told the Mail.

Sir Keir Starmer during a walk about in Hartlepool on Monday (April 3)./Photo: Frank ReidSir Keir Starmer during a walk about in Hartlepool on Monday (April 3)./Photo: Frank Reid
Sir Keir Starmer during a walk about in Hartlepool on Monday (April 3)./Photo: Frank Reid

"We need their local, neighbourhood teams to be able to work with the community to tackle anti-social behaviour, to catch perpetrators, to keep people feeling safe.

"It’s just not fair if people end up feeling they can’t go out in the evening or they can’t go out shopping in town, because they just don’t feel safe enough because they don’t see police patrols.

"That’s why Labour would bring back proper neighbourhood policing. Neighbourhood policing guarantee that there will be local patrols, that there will be more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat.”

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Local resident Stan, 75, who attended the meeting, told the Mail that anti-social behaviour got worse since lockdown.

Mr Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper met with residents at The Annexe community centre, in Wharton Terrace, to discuss anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool./Photo: Frank ReidMr Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper met with residents at The Annexe community centre, in Wharton Terrace, to discuss anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool./Photo: Frank Reid
Mr Starmer and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper met with residents at The Annexe community centre, in Wharton Terrace, to discuss anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool./Photo: Frank Reid

"It was a chance to speak to the senior politicians and express our views,” said Stan, who asked for his surname not to be published.

"I think we need more police officers. The schools need to get involved and understand that there’s serious antisocial behaviour in the area and possibly any other organisation that might be able to help.”

He added: "We’ve had gangs outside the house throwing stones at the windows, the doors of the house. Had a samurai type knife, which was stuck in the fence.

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"They shout abuse at you in the street, even if you are just in your own garden. It’s total lack of any respect to elderly people.”

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate and Burn Valley ward councillor Jonathan Brash described Sir Keir’s visit to the town as “incredibly important”.

Mr Brash said: "I think it’s incredibly important, because he’s here focusing on the issue of crime and antisocial behaviour. Everyone who lives in Hartlepool knows it’s a really serious issue, so to have Keir and Yvette Cooper talking is incredibly important, hearing first hand from Hartlepool people about the challenges they face and what a Labour government can do to resolve those challenges.

Councillor Jonathan Brash has described Sir Keir Starmer's visit to Hartlepool as "incredibly important"./Photo: Frank ReidCouncillor Jonathan Brash has described Sir Keir Starmer's visit to Hartlepool as "incredibly important"./Photo: Frank Reid
Councillor Jonathan Brash has described Sir Keir Starmer's visit to Hartlepool as "incredibly important"./Photo: Frank Reid

He added: "Back in 2008 the ward I represent in the town had full time police officer and two full time PCSOs and it was smaller in those days the ward.

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"Today the same ward, which is a bit bigger, has one part-time PCSO and he does an incredible job but basically the police are underfunded, they are undeserved and they are understaffed.

"They need the backing of the Government and that’s what Labout are going to provide for them.”