An election for the North of Tyne Combined Authority Mayor will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2019. To help you make your decision each candidate has made a policy statement. This is what Charlie Hoult, standing for the Conservatives, says.
'I’m not a career politician. I’m a businessman and campaigner with the experiences and qualities needed to get this region working together – delivering projects, not politics.
To succeed for all our region, the new mayor must work for our county, coast and city alike. There’s lots to do and only a small budget, so proven experience and good leadership will be essential.
I live in Northumberland, at Humshaugh, and I know the area well – its strengths and its challenges. (I was christened in Beadnell where my grandmother had a cottage during WW2 and my dad went to Seahouses Primary.)
As North of Tyne Mayor my main focus will be on four areas: Improving school results; Creating jobs for the future; Renewing town centres; Speaking up for our region.
Parents have told me time and time again of concerns over exams results in our schools. We have some great schools North of the Tyne – the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick and St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle, for instance.
But what I want – and our children deserve – is outstanding education in all of our schools. I’m working on a scheme to appoint a business board to every senior school, so each student can connect with careers advice from a mentor.
I’m on the team that delivered the region’s newest science super school – North East Futures UTC in Newcastle – at 600 pupils, the biggest new state school in the city for a generation. As it is beside Central Station, kids can travel from Berwick or Middlesbrough for specialist science education.
Equally important is job creation. I’m working already with business, councils and central government to build sector projects, like the International Centre for Connected Construction, working with Northumbria University on skills to improve productivity in the building process.
Over my own career, I’ve probably created 1,000 jobs in firms I’ve started, so I know what I’m talking about and where good job opportunities lie.
We’ve all seen the success of the Cobalt Business Park in North Tyneside, so why not similar developments in Alnwick, Berwick and Belford?
Another priority will be to revitalise our town centres. Too many of these feel unloved and neglected. We need to re-energise them, bring them back to life. This won’t be easy, but we can’t stand back and watch our high streets stagnate.
I will create town renewal taskforces to work with stakeholders, including the business community, councils and residents, to establish a vision for their respective town centre bringing together tourism, retail, food business and leisure angles.
Finally, we need a mayor who will shout how great we are, a cheerleader for the region with the confidence to make a strong case at Westminster and convince international investors that we have the foundations for their success.
What the North of Tyne needs is someone with ambition, experience and a track record of tackling some of the challenges we face. Vote Hoult on May 2.'
Charlie Hoult is a 52-year-old businessman, investor and campaigner from Humshaugh, near Hexham.