Mike Hill MP: You cannot put a price on life – and using cheap imports is inexcusable

Mike Hill, MP, with Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Culture.
Mike Hill, MP, with Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Culture.

News that safety tests on the fire doors installed in Grenfell Towers proved that they were inadequate and only resisted fire for half the time specified reminded me of a number of things.

Obviously, the first was the sadness I felt that some people may have survived if proper doors had been installed.

Secondly, the insistence of Hartlepool Council that sprinklers should be included in plans for the new build at English Martyrs for safety reasons, which I wholly support.

Thirdly, my visit to Bridgman IPC in Hartlepool where Peter Bowes and colleagues proved to me just how important it is for the right fire resistant doors to be fitted in construction projects.

I make no apologies in saying that you cannot put a price on life and the use of cheap imports or products licensed in the UK which are not fit for purpose is inexcusable.

Hopefully, as FBU colleagues said to me at the Labour North Conference last weekend, Grenfell will lead to a revival of more rigorous building controls, and I am very sorry that English Martyrs have been caught in the crossfire.

The reality is, any new build must now absolutely anticipate new regulations coming on stream. It really is important that we get fire safety right.

l Despite the moans and groans of the minority who inexplicably choose to put their own town down rather than be ambitious about its prospects, I have to say that recognition this week by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions that the Royal Navy Museum of the North is one of the top places to visit in the country, just shows the progress we are making compared to other coastal towns.

We have a long way to go but we are definitely heading in the right direction. We might not be Scarborough or Whitby when it comes to drawing the tourists in, but there is no reason why we couldn’t be. It just needs a bit more positivity within communities, some of whom are, let’s face it, probably benefiting from the last vestiges of EU grant funding we are likely to see post-Brexit.

We are a historic Durham coastal town with a unique offer of having a national museum equidistant between the fantastic Headland and the amazing Seaton Carew.

We are the town that built the greatest symbol of the region only to see it placed on a hillside in Gateshead – the Angel of the North.

We are a town that, if united in our endeavours, we can rise again phoenix-like – draw people in, and say to those whose petty politics, personal interests and unwanted negativity are dragging us down; we are on the up here and deserve our place on the tourist map.

I believe in my town and it’s about time people who should know better started to do the same.

l So the pride never stops. Like many things a lot of the work I do as an MP goes unseen and unpublicised and rightly so.

I am so proud that since being elected, my office has dealt with over 1,600 individual cases and I’ve personally intervened to help keep major employers afloat in the town; that bit doesn’t matter as long as folk are looked after and jobs are saved. That’s the priority for me, not cheap publicity and hence my main message for this week.

l The effort put in by HUST and other ordinary fans to save Hartlepool United has been phenomenal, and I am proud to be a member of the Trust.

To give it its due, the council has helped more than people will ever realise, and Jeff Stelling has put his shoulder to the wheel and worked his socks off to make a rescue bid work. Plenty of people and businesses have given the equivalent of blood to keep the club going and it doesn’t help that there remain complications after complications, but this is Hartlepool United, the town’s club.

We are inches away from keeping the club afloat and getting the fans a place on the board to boot. Let’s do it for Pools and for the people!