THE Labour candidate for Tees Valley Mayor unveiled her manifesto today, which included a virtual reality theme park and the creation of thousands of jobs in the area.

In a speech which was live streamed on Zoom, Jessie Joe Jacobs, said if she was elected as the Tees Valley Mayor she would 'back our people to get on and succeed' and 'create places people love to live and visit'.

Ms Jacobs, who lives in Stockton, organised the virtual event at The Gaming Hideaway in Thornaby and was joined via Zoom by Andy Burnham Mayor of Manchester, Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister and Alex Cunningham MP for Stockton North.

Ms Jacobs said: "For too long we have been trapped in the past, left behind from underinvestment in public transport, public service cuts and a rolling back of people’s rights and powers. This has caused wide-scale poverty, lack of opportunity and deep-rooted inequalities which means your future is too often decided by the postcode you live in or the street you grew up in. We must tackle this head on, if we are to secure the future we need.

If elected Ms Jacobs would be the first female metro mayor.

She said: "As one of the UK’s first female metro mayors, I will be committed to ensuring women and girls achieve. I count myself as an ordinary Teesside lass but alongside a team of passionate and committed women, we have achieved extraordinary things. That’s why I want to inspire other women to achieve big things for themselves."

Hartlepool will get a futuristic virtual reality theme park to help make it a tourist hot-spot if Ms Jacobs was to be elected, she announced yesterday.

Ms Jacobs said she is keen to invest heavily to turn the region into a magnet for visitors and will set aside a £30m fund to invest in the tourism and culture sectors. A digital playground packed with immersive virtual reality and cutting-edge 4D rides has been ear-marked for Hartlepool.

She said: "Hartlepool is a brilliant place with fantastic people and they deserve the best after suffering a decade of cuts under Tory governments.

"I will ensure every town in the Tees Valley has a world class quality tourist attraction that will bring visitors and money to the area, create jobs and raise the profile of our amazing region.

"And I believe with the strength of this area in tech and digital we can create a pioneering facility in Hartlepool that will be a game-changer for tourism, that will attract visitors from across the country and will generate wealth and pride.

"This area is lagging badly behind the rest of the country when it comes to investment in culture and leisure assets and opportunities and I want to change that," she said.

"I will fight to bring inward investment to Hartlepool to close that gap and will work with the major funding bodies - the Lottery, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Arts Council - and make sure we get our share.

"The town will also benefit from a share of a planned £20m investment in clean, green industries and tech start-up support that will provide future-proofed jobs in emerging new sectors."

Ms Jacobs aims to train up 10,000 workers with the skills needed to seize the opportunities from wind, solar and carbon capture and a planned Tees gigafactory making batteries and quick-charge units for electric vehicles.

She said: "We need to train our young people to do these jobs of the future. We can't create new industries then have to bring in people from outside to do the jobs. We need to be ready and able to do the jobs ourselves.

"I plan a Green Jobs Fund to support a programme of green skills training and vocations centres to help people adapt to roles in new industries.

"And we need not a Freeport but a Green Port with a focus on attracting and growing the good, secure high-skilled jobs that will secure our future."

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: "Since being elected 2017, I’ve saved Teesside Airport from closure – following its disastrous management by Peel and the then five Labour councils, I’ve secured the UK’s largest Freeport that will create 18,000 local jobs, I’ve persuaded Government to locate Treasury North (and other Government departments) in the heart of Darlington, I’ve secured investment from GE to build their new state of the art blade factory on Teesworks creating more than 2,000 jobs and I’m upgrading Darlington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough train stations so we can have a fit for purpose public transport system.

"Over the last four years my plan for jobs has been to deliver these investments that will create good quality well paid local jobs for local people and to put us back on the map.

"Labour’s offer is to create a ‘virtual theme park’ in Hartlepool.

"So the choice is clear, on the 6th of May you can vote to continue with the progress we are making on investment and jobs, or you can vote to scrap all of it and have a virtual theme park.”