HARTLEPOOL MP Jill Mortimer has called the past 12 months “the most incredible year of her life” and stressed exciting plans for the town will be coming forward “sooner than you think”.

Just after 7am on Friday, May 7 2021, Jill Mortimer was confirmed as Hartlepool’s MP, with a majority of 6,940 votes seeing her successful ahead of Labour candidate Paul Williams.

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She became the first Conservative to hold the position in the town since naval hero Commander John Kerans stood down ahead of the 1964 General Election.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, Mrs Mortimer said the period has been the “most incredible year of her life”.

She said: “From the moment I was selected for the seat it’s been such a privilege, and as I’ve grown to know Hartlepool and the people more and more, I just love it.

“We have our ups and we have our downs, but it’s just fantastic.

“I work seven days a week, 24 hours a day basically, because it’s all I care about, but it doesn’t feel like work, because it’s not a job, it’s a commitment, the people of Hartlepool put their trust in me and I have to repay them.”

On her highlights of the past year, she pointed to work carried out in Hartlepool schools and positive plans drawn up for the future, adding she has come across “some of the best people” she has ever met.

She said: “Getting to see the kids in the schools, we’ve got such amazing kids and amazing teachers, I’ve really loved that.

“It’s bringing the jobs, tying everything together, because when you bring the jobs and prosperity, we strengthen our argument for a new hospital and all those things.

“It’s just the feeling in the town, there’s such a feeling of buoyancy now that things are going to happen.”

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The MP has been campaigning for a new nuclear reactor at Hartlepool Power Station, which is currently due to be decommissioned in 2024, and she listed this as a key project for the area.

She said: “I couldn’t understand why none of the MPs here had ever done anything about it or fought for it and fought for the jobs and the futures for the apprentices.

“With that we could decarbonise the whole of the Tees Valley, we could produce hydrogen and be the very heart of the green industrial revolution right here in Hartlepool.”

She has also been working with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust bosses and Government ministers on improving health services, including a new hospital for the area.

She said: “We need to get more early diagnostics because we’ve got a real problem with health deprivation, that’s another area of levelling up that I’m passionate about.

“We’ve got fantastic outcomes once it’s caught, but people aren’t coming forward, so we’re talking about getting into the community and getting those early diagnostics for things like breast, bowel and lung cancer.

“We need, it’s a no brainer to me, North Tees is crumbling, we need a new hospital North of the Tees to serve us all.”

She added progress is likely to be seen on some of these projects “sooner than you think”.

Other hot topics for the MP include addressing the “not fit for purpose” council tax system, reducing antisocial behaviour, including off-road vehicles, and continuing to lobby to reopen Hartlepool Magistrates’ Courts.

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Last year Hartlepool’s police cells reopened temporarily to process offenders at times of high demand, and the MP said she was keen to push for more permanent arrangements.

She is also aiming to bring a “much-needed facelift” to derelict buildings in the town, naming sites such as the old Odeon and the Wesley Chapel, which is earmarked to benefit from Hartlepool’s £25million Town Deal success.

However she warned it can be”very frustrating in politics” how slow processes take.

She added: “The political will is there and I’m pushing hard, but we have to go through different departments, and things take longer than you expect when you do this job.”

In terms of the challenges, Mrs Mortimer said the “most difficult adjustment” has been the “personal attacks and the negativity”.

She said: “We do lots of things that are sensitive, so we could never publicise it, so if we do that people say “Where’s Jill?” and then if we do take a photo at something, it’s you’re only there for the photo.

“There’s no winning, that kind of just personal spiteful negative attack, I just don’t get it.

“I’m here, people in the town know where I am, because people in the town meet me and know what we’re doing for them.”

Alongside the business of being MP, Mrs Mortimer added there are numerous sites of Hartlepool she has loved visiting.

She said: “I love going to Seaton for an ice cream, I love the fish and chips down there, I love the Headland.

“The great art gallery in the old church, I love it there, there’s loads of great places, I love the Marina.”

She added she is “thrilled” to soon be moving into her new home in Hartlepool, which was initially due to be completed last September, but the developer faced delays due to Covid-19.

The property is now expected to be completed over the summer months, and the MP said she is “desperate to be living there”.

A year on from last year’s success, Mrs Mortimer added she is “hopeful” if an election was held today, she would still have the support of voters.

She said: “I hope they just think of me as their Jill, I’m here to facilitate things for our town.

“I hope people can see what I’m doing and will judge me on results and how much I care about the town.”