Positive report helps lift jobs gloom

HARTLEPOOL is leading the Tees Valley battle to recover from the economic gloom.

A latest report on the state of the area’s economy has been published by the regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU).

It showed there were 570 jobs created in the area during September with many of them were in Hartlepool and Billingham.

The boost comes 24 hours after Hartlepool suffered some grim jobs news.

The number of people in Hartlepool claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance had rose to 4,252 in September, up from 4,223 in August.

The figures also show that claimants in the 18 to 25 age group has gone up by 25 to 1,450 in the same period.

But now comes a more positive report and a TVU spokesman said: “September saw a sharp increase in reported job gains, with the number returning to levels seen in the early part of 2011.”

They included:

■ Housing organisation Vela Group, which is a registered social landlord in Hartlepool and Stockton, creating 23 new jobs through apprenticeships;

■ Respondez in Hartlepool taking on 15 more staff, with the contact centre taking its workforce to more than 200 as a result of contract gains;

■ Engineering firm Pearson-Harper set to take on an extra 13 staff at their base in Billingham to provide engineering management services to a project off the coast of western Australia;

■ PD Ports, the owners of dockland in Hartlepool, taking on 50 more workers to cope with the increased volumes of steel slabs being exported from the River Tees;

■ Heerema Hartlepool, in Greenland Road, which was announced as one of six British firms to clinch work under a £700m BP scheme to develop the Kinnoull North Sea oil reservoir. Heerema is creating an unknown number of new jobs.

TVU chiefs say the jobs boosts were also backed up by more companies reporting increased profits, including Hartlepool-based Stadium.

In Billingham, Nicholsons Transport has revealed its hopes for a 20 per cent growth in freight quantities in the next year.

But there was some gloomier news in TVU’s economy briefing. It reported on Westgate department store’s decision to pull out of the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool from next month with the loss of 21 jobs, and told how national furniture chain Walmsley went into administration, leading to the closure of its Hartlepool and Middlesbrough stores.

The report added: “Claimant unemployment in the Tees Valley rose again in August, reversing the slow improvements seen recently. The Tees Valley is clearly following a general trend as North-East and Great Britain rates are also rising.

“Levels across the country remain significantly above those seen in autumn 2010.”