A HARTLEPOOL mother and businesswoman has thrown her hat into the ring for the town's upcoming by-election.

Samantha Lee, a businesswoman having set up her own public relations firm 15 years ago, following a decade-long career in journalism.

She has worked with several Hartlepool businesses - including Seymour Engineering, Hartlepool College of FE, J&B Recycling, Hart Biologicals and Gus Robinson Developments whilst being a member of the region's business groups.

Ms Lee said a key factor behind her decision to enter the race to become Hartlepool MP is down to the fact that she believes an independent voice in the corridors of power would go some way to helping to improve the prospects for the next generation.

She said: "As a mother to seven-year-old Billy, the lack of opportunities offered to him and other youngsters when they grow up frightens me.

"There should be no reason for this. Hartlepool is a town with huge potential, don't ever let Westminster or anyone else tell us otherwise. We just don't have a voice speaking up for us and haven't for a very long time.

"Yes we have our social problems, crime and health issues, and they can't be dealt with overnight. But a prosperous, happy, proud town would go a long way to helping everyone and nobody is getting left behind."

Ms Lee was educated at Brierton and later Hartlepool Sixth Form and Hartlepool College of FE.

She said she is hoping that knowledge will give her a huge advantage over some of her rivals who, despite having the weight of political parties behind them, will be encouraged into toeing their party line rather than actually pressuring Government to taking the voice of Hartlepool into Westminster.

Ms Lee, 44, added: "Every time there is an election, we see people parachuted into Hartlepool for a couple of weeks to knock on doors, then as soon as the election is finished, they jump on the Grand Central and go back to wherever they came from.

"They trot out the same generic pledges, but people can see through them. It needs to change, and if we end up voting in a Labour or Tory MP, are we really confident that is actually going to happen?

"If the Tories get in they have an 81 seat majority, if Labour gets in the Tories have a 79 seat majority. Ultimately, nothing changes. They are both duty-bound to tow the party line.

"I'm out and about in Hartlepool every single day, not just because I'm trying to win votes, I live here. I speak to parents at the school gates, I deal with businesses, I socialise with friends in the pubs. Everyone is saying the same thing.

"They are sick of politicians and political games, they want someone with honesty and integrity to speak up for the town and someone who isn't political or bound by party whips."

Ms Lee has held meetings with several Hartlepool business and community leaders and is keen to push the benefits of the town's Freeport status, which she believes has the ability to attract thousands of jobs to the town and bolster existing businesses through supply chain demand.

She added: "I have spent a vast amount of my 15 years in business working alongside organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Tees Valley Business Club, the Entrepreneur's Forum, Teesside University and many others.

"Hartlepool was recently made a freeport, and we have vast swathes of developable land around our port that is ripe for attracting big companies in industries such as wind energy, electric car batteries, recycling and hydrogen production.

"We also have tremendous colleges and skills academies ready to train generations of workers. I've spoken to businesses and they are all encouraged by that, but there is always that nagging doubt that in the end Hartlepool will be the poor relation, because that's what always happens isn't it?

"I know first hand what a poor share we get as compared to the rest of the region and that's because we haven't had someone working with the purse string holders proposing intelligent solutions for a very long time. If the people of Hartlepool want me to do that I will stand for them.

"Put an independent in and they demand what's due to Hartlepool and nothing else. These parties will tell you that voting for an independent is a wasted vote - don't fall for it."

  • Jill Mortimer is the Conservative candidate
  • Paul Williams is the Labour candidate
  • David Bettney is the Social Democratic Party candidate
  • Andy Hogan is the Liberal Democrat candidate
  • Hilton Dawson is the North East Party candidate