“Ensuring that no-one is left behind or left out”
Labour candidate for Tees Valley mayor, Jessie Joe Jacobs launched her election campaign on Wednesday at new virtual reality centre, The Gaming Hideaway, in Thornaby. Before presenting her manifesto, she was introduced by the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, former PM Gordon Brown, Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, and Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham.
Jessie presented her programme under three headings – jobs, people, places – to explain her vision for the future of Tees Valley. “The future of this region”, she says, “could be so different but it will take a real visionary and courageous leader to do that and to take us there. To try things that have never been done before.”
Her plan for jobs focuses on five areas –
- Creating jobs in the climate economy
- the digital and tech sector
- Culture and tourism
- the local economy
- Growing the social economy
The starting point for this is the need to deal with rising inequality in the region, capitalizing on the region’s industrial strengths and applying them to the industries of the future, hence the focus on the climate economy and the digital and tech sector. Her aim is to train up to 10,000 people in climate industry skills, either through apprenticeships or through loans and grants to support other workers, developing a training hub for climate jobs, and providing business investment and the creation of a green industrial park.
As for the tech sector, she points to the opportunity to merge the expertise of the region’s industrial past with the growing demand for tech to pioneer digital solutions in our industrial sector.
When it comes to culture and tourism, she points out that the Tees Valley region lags behind in inward investment in leisure and tourism. She proposes to set up an investment fund to support this as well as lobbying for funding from elsewhere. Underlying this is the need to foster and develop local talent and initiative.
This is regardless of whether it is in the field of culture or business. As she says, “We must ensure that money created here, stays here. Local businesses are more likely to support other local businesses and this creates a cycle that keeps a community’s money within the community.”
The development of local business and entrepreneurship would be backed by the creation of a Good Business Hub, providing finance, training, and advice.
To complement this, she proposes the creation of a ‘Get On Scheme’ providing skills training and finance for people in and out of work who want to improve their skills It is through having a workforce with the right skills to meet the needs of the economy of the future that the region will grow. This scheme is aimed firmly at ensuring that no one is left behind or left out. One particular focus of this scheme would be to encourage more women to develop skills especially in tech, where the Tees Valley has a large skills gap. In line with this she aims to lobby the government to fully devolve responsibility for employment and skills spending.
In addition to this employers will have the opportunity to sign up to a Good Jobs Charter, a social contract that promotes good workplace practice, good employers and businesses.
Where the manifesto address ‘places’, there are three main strands, the first being the need to develop an integrated transport system through the creation of a transport strategy called Tees Travel. Its purpose is to manage and develop the public transport network including bus, rail and cycle lanes. This will be operated on a commercial basis but will require upfront investment.
Jessie Joe Jacobs has committed also to a scheme to improve the quality of rented housing and is proposing a Good Rent Programme that will provide certification of approved rented properties. Her plan for neighbourhoods is to promote the provision of green spaces, as well as creating a community asset fund, to support anyone prepared to take on a community asset such as a library or cinemas, to prevent these being lost as public amenities.
An extension of this is her plan for the regeneration of high streets which involves the repurposing of vacant commercial premises in town centres for socially useful activities, such as boxing clubs or cafes.
She concludes, “I have an ambitious plan to build a thriving economy from the bottom up: investing in local business and industries old and new to deliver jobs for decades to come…
“I will offer the unifying leadership it will need to get us there.”
You can download the manifesto here.