I READ with interest, coupled with just a little bit of déjà vu, a recent article in the Hartlepool Mail written by Ian Willis, entitled ‘Have a say on united authority’.
This article stated that Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher has given his full backing to Hartlepool Borough Council joining forces with the other four Tees Valley authorities.
The council leader openly stated that Hartlepool would be better off financially and would improve economic development, transport, infrastructure and skills.
However, the way I see it, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher is hedging his bets, covering his posterior by asking members of the public to have their say on this matter.
This way, if this united venture of the five Tees Valley authorities doesn’t pay off, he can always blame it on the public who were invited to have their say.
I don’t know how long the council leader has lived in Hartlepool or if he has taken note of what went on in the North-East prior to his arrival in “God’s acres”.
However, I seem to remember not so very long ago we went down this path.
It was an amalgamation of authorities that brought about the formation of Cleveland County Council.
Most people remember how it operated.
Middlesbrough got the bulk of the money, the economic infrastructure and most of the jobs, Stockton got a new high street and Hartlepool got the Historic Quay.
Then, when everyone realised it didn’t work, wouldn’t work and couldn’t work, and the authorities reverted back to control over their own affairs, everyone was happy because all the authorities got to share £10m between them.
That was week one of the break-up of Cleveland County Council. In week two it was discovered that an error had been made.
There wasn’t any £10m to share, and all the authorities received was a share of nothing. We have been down this path in the not-too-distant past, Coun Akers-Belcher.
It doesn’t work, and it can’t work because, no matter what it looks like on paper, the leaders of the five Tees Valley councils will all want everything for their own towns.(Labour policy).
I suggest, Coun Akers-Belcher, that you stick to what you are good at.
That is, paying thousands of pounds of council taxpayers’ money in hiring people to draw pretty pictures of what could be or might be at Jacksons Landing; Church Street and Seaton Carew.
And talking of these locations, can you tell me when the work on them is going to commence?
Or are they going down the same route as the trams around the marina, the posh fish and chip shop at Kafiga Landings and the “bridge over troubled waters” linking the “old side” to the “west dockers”?