I remember distinctly in the 2017 election campaign one lady telling me she has never forgiven politicians for amalgamating the two Hartlepool’s into one borough. I remember because it stood out from the normal conversations about society, the state of the NHS, the state of the streets and everything but Brexit.

Our chat was a week before Theresa May threatened to end the triple lock on Pensions which guaranteed that they would rise by by inflation or by 2.5 per cent of average earnings every year - whichever is the higher, so I hope she ultimately did vote for me but her words were, for me, a salient reminder of the passion and strength of feeling folk have for the Town.

Precisely the reason why it is so disappointing to learn that departing Hartlepool United minor celebrities feel it's right to cast aspersions on the Town and the alleged negativity of fans towards the team. Precisely the reason also for me agreeing with local lad and BBC Radio Broadcaster Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough that there are plenty of reasons for talking up our Town when I met him last week.

It therefore was a wonderful  thing to see the first ever Heritage Railway Trust Red Plaque erected in the UK at Hartlepool Train Station commemorating the bombing of the place in WW1 and our connection to the beginnings of modern trains with the trials of the 1903 Electric Autocar in 1904; just slightly older than the infamous Pacers.

It’s excellent news too that one of our own, Michael Rice, will represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv; a fantastic achievement that really will put us on the map.

On the subject of entertainment I think it’s fantastic that we are building the largest film studios here in Hartlepool second only to Pinewood; just think of the potential impact that will have on the British film industry! Other initiatives include a Centre of Education Excellence being developed around Catcote Academy and the impressive Catcote Futures programme; the creation of a Civil Engineering Academy by Seymour and some ground breaking plans being developed around a Centre of Excellence for Health and Social Care by the Council, colleges and the NHS Trust.  Add to this the fact that our local industries and businesses are winning multi million pound contracts left right and centre, bringing much needed income into the local economy and much needed job opportunities and apprenticeships.

Michael Rice is the embodiment of what the people of our Town can achieve. He is a star in the making and a true inspiration. We have got so much going on and so much to offer as a Town that I get frustrated when people, for no reason, put the Town in a bad light, particularly on social media. No wonder we end up being labelled one of the most stressed towns in the country according to Babylon Health and the most stressed place in the North East based on an analysis of people’s tweets. Happy St Valentines Day: we all ❤Hartlepool.


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