Author: Scott Hunter

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The bigger the lie: Houchen’s alternative facts about the Dorman Long Tower

Scott Hunter

The Dorman Long Tower was demolished on Sunday 19 September. The engineers’ report that occasioned its demise was published on Monday. Some will be unsurprised to learn that Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen’s, description of its contents bears little resemblance to reality. He has taken a few risks in the process. Will they pay off […]

Welcome to developers’ world with Houchen and Dorries

Scott Hunter

One day into the job as Culture Secretary and Nadine Dorries has aleady signed the death warrant of the Dorman Long Tower, symbol of Teesside’s industrial past, unique example of brutalist architecture, and source of copious amounts of scrap metal for those authorised to take it away. Only last week, Historic England, assigned it grade […]

Opinion

Has Roy Chubby Brown become a champion of free speech?

Scott Hunter

Things were looking fairly encouraging for entertainer, Roy Chubby Brown, last week. After his show at Sheffield City Hall was cancelled by the City Council over concerns that his humour did not coincide with their values, a petition was set up to protest the ban. By the time it was reported in Gazette, on 7 […]

…and the walls came tumbling down…

Scott Hunter

Have some sympathy for Jacob Young , MP for Redcar. As  the news comes out that permission has been sought to demolish the Dorman Long Tower, he has been made a complete fool of by Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen. Young it is who is so enamoured of the tower that he has a picture […]

Opinion

Is Houchen heading for Westminster?

Scott Hunter

The minds of many Twitter followers yesterday were exercised by an article in  Prospect Magazine profiling Ben Houchen, which they were alerted to by the Politico Morning Briefing. Another article, to which that Briefing also provided a link, seems to have attracted much less attention. This is unfortunate, as the two go well together. It […]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: the Tees Valley responds to the Afghanistan Crisis

Scott Hunter

Middlesbrough mayor, Andy Preston, has been making the headlines, with an unambiguous statement of support for refugees from Afghanistan. Many here will welcome those humanitarian sentiments, published in the Gazette on 19 August. The Gazette article, however, moves swiftly on to discussion of the pantomime of incompetence in Westminster over the issue, and so does […]

Teesside enjoys its Palmyra moment, as Redcar Blast Furnace is torn down

Scott Hunter

The destruction of Redcar Blast Furnace has begun in earnest, with the Teesside Heritage Taskforce on hand to record the action on film for posterity. Soon the people of Teesside will be able to survey the roofs of the never-ending warehouses of the freeport, monuments to low pay and tax evasion, as if that is […]

Will the real Ben Houchen please stand up?

Scott Hunter

Who advises Ben Houchen?  You might have supposed that it was the officers of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). Until last week, that is. When he announced that he would seek to ensure that a referendum would be required before Teesside Airport could be sold, he crossed a line, and cemented what many had […]

Telecommunications provider shows appreciation to Stockton MP, Matt Vickers

Scott Hunter

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, has championed several causes in his time in office including tougher sentences for pet thieves and the protection of hedgehogs. Both undoubtedly worthy causes.  He appears to dislike international aid, asylum seekers and gypsies. So, there seems to be a ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ theme to his […]

Ben Houchen and the chamber of secrets

Scott Hunter

Tees Valley Mayor seeks to protect Teesside Airport from ‘rogue’ politicians like himself, as the airport operator departs Teesside Airport operator Esken Ltd, formerly Stobart Aviation, has jumped ship and pulled out of its contract with the airport company (TIAL). Now, in place of Esken Ltd, the airport is being operated directly by its own […]

Cleveland Bridge is falling down

Scott Hunter

Darlington-based structural engineering firm Cleveland Bridge has collapsed into administration, it has been announced. Its entire workforce of 230 is now under threat of redundancy. The firm, in existence for 144 years, has been owned by the Saudi al-Rushaid group since 2000. The crisis has occurred despite the firm having a full order book.  So, […]

Little England, where charity begins at Conservativehome

Scott Hunter

A vote in the House of Commons yesterday reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reducing the UK’s overseas aid budget. This, it maintains is necessary on account of the unprecedented conditions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.  Figures published today by the BBC show that, while overseas aid amounted to £14.5bn in 2019, it is projected to […]

Happy birthday North East Bylines!

Scott Hunter

One shrewd editorial policy at the outset set the tone which was that, while those involved in setting up the project shared an interest in politics, Bylines was interested in everything. No boundaries were set on the scope of its content. As a result, Bylines publishes a range of material much more diverse than any regional newspaper: poetry, international affairs, profiles of local sporting legends, it’s all in there.

Steel safeguards retained: Truss capitulates, Clarke conflicted

Scott Hunter

By the looks of this image from his Facebook page Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough and East Cleveland, hasn’t been sleeping well recently.  As well he might, given that the steel industry has been in the spotlight on account of the threat to remove safeguards on a range of products. He was very late to […]

Matt Vickers, an exhibition centre and ‘levelling up’

Scott Hunter

The basic idea that this region should take a more active role in the arts is, of course, a good one, but it’s not at all clear whether Matt Vickers has any idea about how to go about doing that. You just can’t help but wonder if the announcement is intended to do something other promote this manifestly unrealistic plan. Perhaps the real intention is simply to promote Matt Vickers.

NHS Digital in NHS ‘data grab’

Scott Hunter

Concern over the government’s plans to acquire the nation’s GP held patient records reaches a state of sublime confusion. The government has directed NHS Digital to start taking medical records from GPs in England and Wales from 1 September 2021. This is with a view to creating a central database of pseudonymised patient data. This […]

Allegations have Ben Houchen hot under the collar

Scott Hunter

t begins to look as if Houchen has been a bit careless in his explanation, offering up the truth but not the whole truth. But then to be fair, the statement issued to the press is the work of his PR team. And his team has been less than fastidious in another respect here, which is the allegation that “this nonsense was first concocted by the Labour Party”.

Teesworks Heritage Taskforce: cancelling culture?

Scott Hunter

Now that the South Tees site is being redeveloped, a new task has emerged, which is deciding on the preservation of some of its most important structures. Redcar MP and co-chair of Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, Jacob Young, is committed to commemorating this region’s industrial heritage.

Scrutiny concerns in the Tees Valley

Scott Hunter
Teesside Airport

The mayoral system is essentially a presidential one. Except that it is a presidential system without checks and balances in place. And, speaking of presidents, Houchen has learned a great deal of his craft from Trump. Like Trump, he is expert in the use of social media. His PR team puts out a constant stream of news. Information and misinformation neatly entwined.

Glasgow immigration protest has Priti Patel in a quandary

Scott Hunter

Make no mistake, the sentiment that prompted the action in Glasgow yesterday is widely shared across Scotland. And, in case anyone is in any doubt about that, this is not the first time that Westminster politicians have fallen foul of Scottish sensibilities. At the beginning of the 1980s Scottish Tories formed a large minority of the country’s electorate. The vulgarity of ‘Greed is Good’ put an end to that. Today the hostile environment policy causes widespread offence across the spectrum.

May elections special

Tories take Hartlepool

Scott Hunter

For days now, the town’s cemeteries have been full of people turning in their graves, as their descendants revoke all that they stood for, an act that has been accomplished with much wringing of hands. But the deed is done, the priorities of the people of Hartlepool have changed, and there’s no going back. One key question remains, however. That’s the question of what precisely the Tories have just acquired.

Another Hartlepool independent: Sam Lee

Scott Hunter

Sam knows just how difficult it can be to get voters’ attention, not to mention their approval, in an election. It is not just that the main parties have party machinery to support them, it is also the fact that their voices are amplified by the media. There is no level playing field.

May elections specialUPDATED

Green Hartlepool?

Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter interviews Rachel Featherstone, Green Party candidate for the Hartlepool by-election

All set for a win on the pools?: a look at the bookies’ take on the Hartlepool by-election

Scott Hunter

The popularity of the Brexit party in recent years may also provide some insight into what is happening in Hartlepool today. What UKIP, the BNP, the Veterans’ and People’s Party and other similar groups have had in common is their anti-immigrant, islamphobic, hang-‘em-and-flog-‘em agenda. The Brexit party dispensed with that, and instead set up with no policy platform at all, other than the realisation of Brexit. Now, under the name Reform UK, the party has a limited platform – most notably opposition to lockdown.