THERE was promise of change from “day one” yesterday as Labour’s candidate hoping to oust the Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen kicked-off her campaign for office.
Pledging to improve transport links, tackle mental health "head-on," attract investment and train up skilled workers, Mayoral candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs remained determined that Teesside could “rise again.”
At the Hartlepool College of Further Education on Wednesday morning, Ms Jacobs was joined by her supporters, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the Labour Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotherham.
She told The Northern Echo: "We’re going to bring back jobs, we’re going to have opportunities for our young people through my vocational centres in every borough so young people can train up for the jobs of the future."
Addressing more than a hundred people, including scores of college students, Ms Jacobs promised that young people would once again achieve “hope and opportunities” through use of devolved powers and funding.
She said: "We know our workforce must be skilled – I look around at the young people here and I want to make a promise to them that whatever we do, however we grow, you will be at the forefront of it, you will have the hope and opportunity that your forefathers had."
Describing her launch as a momentous day, the potential first female metro mayor in the UK said: "I know we can be better.
“We can be a place that people love, a place that stands tall on the British map and Northern map – a place remembered and known."
Making commitments to improving rail and bus services within the Tees Valley, Ms Jacobs said work would begin in Hartlepool suggesting she backed the creation of a new bridge that could help relieve pressure on the A19 and A66 between the town and south Teesside.
She said: "As we start to bring back power with rail and buses, we can connect the north in ways we didn’t imagine, in ways the south are already doing.
“We will start here in Hartlepool, improving your connectivity through rail and to get into the rest of Teesside through that Tees Crossing that you’ve been demanding."
As part of her first wave of election pledges, Ms Jacobs revealed she would create a £1m tech-for-good charity in plans to attract new technology companies to establish themselves on Teesside.
She also promised to focus on harvesting green technology, including biomass, hydrogen and tidal power in what she described would make the Tees Valley a "frontier" of green technology.
She finished her campaign launch by vowing to tackle mental health "head-on," with a region-wide campaign to end loneliness by securing new powers around health and social care."
Ms Jacobs said she could bring change from her first day in office, and said: “The brilliant thing, I can do this on day one, that’s the power of a regional leader – that you can convene people to come together.
"I’ve got hard powers, investment powers, but also use my soft powers to do that and convene – I’m really excited, what a vision for Teesside and a place where our people can thrive.”
On Tuesday evening, Mr Houchen announced a pledge to bring healthcare services back Hartlepool University Hospital if re-elected.