The new leader of UKIP says the Government has failed to invest in coastal communities such as Hartlepool while on a visit to the town.
Henry Bolton was at the Cosmopolitan pub on the Headland after being invited to the area by town councillors.
Mr Bolton also slammed the Government over its handling of getting a Brexit deal for the UK, with negotiations still ongoing between ministers and the European Union.
“I’ve got a lot of concerns about areas outside the south and south east of the country,” said Mr Bolton, who appeared on Question Time earlier in the week.
“I’m not a career politician, I’m an ex-police officer, soldier and international diplomat and I’ve only achieved success by listening to peoples’ concerns and making sure that the whole country pulls together.
“So I’m listening to what people are saying and I think the North East, as well as other parts of the country, particularly communities close to the coast, need a lot more development.
“We need to start opening up these places to the rest of the country so I’m here to start working out how best to figure that out.
“It’s time that politicians started engaging with ordinary people in these coastal towns.”
Hartlepool voted 70% in favour of leaving the EU in last year’s referendum, with Mr Bolton saying that Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues have been “incompetent” in striking a deal over leaving the organisation.
“There is uncertainty because we’ve got a Government at the minute that seems unable to create certainty,” he said.
“We want to be able to govern ourselves but as long as the European Courts of Justice have any jurisdiction over our courts and our Parliament we are not soverign, we are not independent and we do not have the ability to take control of our own destiny to become a confident, optimistic, prosperous and secure nation and that is what Brexit is about.
“The only reason we don’t have clarity over what our objectives are over that is because we have a Government that is incompetent and isn’t able to deliver it.
“Someone needs to hold the Government to account over what they are doing as well, but the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats just aren’t doing that.”
UKIP is now the main opposition on Hartlepool Borough Council with six councillors, but it finished third in the town at this year’s General Election.
When Mr Bolton was asked if his party will be once again targeting the seat in future, he said: “We haven’t established target seats as yet.
“We’ve had a bad year in 2017, but we’ve got a lot of good councillors here and I want to build on that.”