MIKE HILL: Until issues are addressed our recovery will fall short
Last week’s Budget leaves a great deal to be desired. Of course, I welcome the move to send Treasury North to the Tees Valley and the prospect of a Freeport for Hartlepool and Teesside, but I believe the Government could offer more for our communities.
While exploration of potential infrastructure projects is very welcome news, there is already one large employer in Town, Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, which needs guarantees about its future. This budget would have been the perfect opportunity to cement the future of nuclear energy in Hartlepool which contributes to the Governments Green energy commitments and our carbon zero future.
The omission of the nuclear sector from the budget is deeply concerning as the clock ticks down to the decommissioning of the site without a renewal firmly on the table. Sites like Hartlepool already have the infrastructure, the professional and skilled workforce and the desire to keep those generators spinning. We just need the Treasury to show that they’re willing to support us.
On the same note, after a decade of cuts to funding of local authorities like ours, we need money available to kick start our local economy and get money back into the community where it can stimulate local businesses. As the Town’s Fund makes its way to mostly conservative seats, folk may be right to wonder in whose interests this budget is being made.
There are too many businesses that have gone too long without support. Self-employed people and small business owners who have fallen through the cracks. These hard workers make up the backbone of local economies like ours and we cannot bounce back if they are left by the wayside. The budget does nothing to address these issues which I’ve been raising with the Treasury since last spring.
Until the gaps in the safety net are closed, until our public services are properly funded and until our existing key industries are supported with the means to survive long-term, our recovery and the Government’s flagship ‘levelling up agenda’ are only ever going to fall short of where we need it to be in a community that needs it more than most.