You can view the first full draft of my "People's Manifesto" here:
I believe in a different kind of politics, which means taking a different approach to forming policy, a more inclusive approach within which you can have your say. Below are my five big policy themes. Take a look and then if you'd like to comment on any of them click the link below.
To ensure the Tees Valley is somewhere that people want to live, work, play and invest we need to rebuild a sense of community and regional pride. This means thriving communities and public spaces; giving our high streets the help they need to reinvent themselves for the 21st century. Harnessing a booming culture and tourism scene, making the most of our fantastic assets from coast to country; improving infrastructure and investing in arts, leisure and heritage. It means people are listened to, that communities are involved in shaping and influencing the things that happen to them. It also means ensuring that everyone has a good quality home and a transport system fit for the 21st century.
- Better Housing
-- Great homes for all
Having a good quality, safe and secure home is the foundation stone for any thriving community. That’s why my housing plan must be really ambitious, aiming for tens of thousands of homes to be built or upgraded. Partnership working will be key, involving the five Local Authorities building new council homes as well new builds by Registered Providers of Social Housing. We can raise our game by learning from successful projects here in the North East as well as others around the UK.
-- Quality and Energy Efficiency
We need homes that serve the wellbeing of families and communities. We must do everything we can to ensure new developments achieve maximum energy-efficiency. Meeting our housing needs will also involve renovating and repurposing existing buildings to 21st century standards. Robust developer agreements are needed to ensure the delivery of high-quality, affordable housing in sufficient volume to meet current and future demand. Local building firms must be helped to grow their capacity alongside larger contractors.
- Connected and Empowered
-- Tackling social isolation and exclusion
Tackling loneliness and social isolation makes social and economic sense. Connected communities are safer, healthier and more prosperous. We must ensure we plan to tackle social isolation in terms of planning, i.e. what type of housing, what local amenities are needed and what are the vital ingredients for building communities such as green spaces, communal land for parks and allotments. We should also work across health and local authorities to ensure there are community hubs offering advice and guidance around wellbeing, safety, employability and training.
-- Citizens' Assemblies
I’m committed to devolution, hand-in-hand with ways of dealing with the democratic deficit that exists in the current Mayoral model. We need to bring politics and people together which means we must close the gap between the mayor and those they serve. I think a citizen’s assembly for Tees Valley could be a great way to close the gap, giving residents a direct forum in which to talk with me and others about the issues that affect them. All our policies need to be thoroughly informed by the concerns of local people. Only by working together and engaging with each other will we transform the Tees Valley.
-Reviving our high streets
-- High Street Renewal
Our High Streets have faced pressure from all sides: poor maintenance by property owners, the growth of internet shopping and also the impact of out-of-town developments. We’ve lost not only shops but centres of community. To rectify this we need to help High Streets to diversify their offer, securing its future as a public space for community.
-- Repurposed spaces
Let’s work with local authorities and landlords to repurpose vacant retail spaces to provide housing, leisure opportunities, learning spaces, accommodation for micro-businesses and new businesses. We could also encourage the opening up of High Street space to arts and community groups. Local artists, musicians and drama groups are an important part of the rich cultural life of the Tees Valley and add tremendous value.
- Developing Culture and Tourism
-- Destination Tees Valley
From the stunning coastline of East Cleveland, to the iconic Roseberry Topping; our brilliant and growing events and markets to such as Orange Pip Market, Hartlepool Live, to our cultural venues of Mima, Arc, and Head of Steam; we have huge opportunities and assets that could truly make the Tees Valley a national destination. We must build and develop this area and value it for the real catalyst for regeneration that it could be. This means securing landmark projects of national significance, it means leveraging much greater inward investment whilst building the much-needed tourism infrastructure from transport to accommodation.
-- Championing music, arts & culture
Being born and bred in Teesside I know that our region’s culture has so much to offer. We have some of the worlds greatest musicians, playing in the backrooms of dusty pubs and awe inspiring artists painting images that may never be seen. Every creative deserves the opportunity to turn their passion into a livelihood. This means creating space, training, investment and resources for people to take the next step. It means having the learning institutions and the cultural venues, plus the transport links to get from A to B.
- Transforming Tees Valley Transport
For many people needing to get around, for work, education or leisure, our buses and trains play a crucial part. Yet transport is a sector in which the market has failed to deliver, leading to enormous frustration for travellers. This is why Labour’s pledge to bring Britain’s hopeless train network and buses into public ownership has been so popular.
-- A Joined-Up Network
Let’s bring buses under the strategic control of the Combined Authority. A study into rural isolation in Tees Valley is needed too, bringing forward recommendations on reversing the loss of bus services. Rail is also vital. Middlesbrough is well situated to become a hub for travel within the region with train links to Saltburn, Redcar, Whitby and the Esk Valley. It could be further developed as a transit point for weekend trips from Newcastle, Durham, Darlington and other urban centres. With a Labour Government bringing rail back in public ownership we could release funding for transport integration across the region, including developing Darlington as a major Hub into the national rail network.
-- Affordability and alternatives
Currently travel passes don’t represent good value. We need to fix this, as part of upgrading to a simple tap-in-tap-out ticketing system. London and other regions can do this, so why not us? Weekend transport discounts for Teesside residents would promote transport and mobility within the region. Let’s also turn more disused railway lines into greenways and cycle lanes. A great network of cycleways in Teesside could facilitate both green commuting and attract sports tourism.
An Economy Working for Everyone
As Mayor, I will be a powerful voice for the Tees Valley to ensure that we grow a thriving and just economy that includes everyone and doesn’t leave people and communities behind. Global competition and long-term underinvestment have led to economic decline or stagnating productivity. International market forces have pushed down wages and led to in-work poverty. But we can change this. I have a bold vision to become one of Britain’s most economically exciting regions, where social and economic goals will work together in synergy. We have a thriving tech industry, busy commercial centres, a cool arts and music scene, a great independent business culture, the port of Tees and swathes of reclaimable land surrounding the old SSi site. All of these are the foundations for our future growth.
- A New Approach to Business
-- Good Business Hubs
Better approaches to doing Business should be encouraged. I envisage a network of Hubs within which cooperatives, social enterprises and other value-centred businesses will be given support and resources to grow, connect and develop a just business alternative that prioritises people, pay and equality.
-- Community Wealth Building
Community wealth involves economic output being shared by the many not the few. We need a more progressive procurement approach that ensures local, social-value-adding businesses will find it easier to compete for public-sector contracts. This will keep money circulating in the area rather than being siphoned off to London – or to offshore tax havens.
- A Better Deal for Workers
-- Good jobs and the Real Living Wage
My priority is to grow the economy in a way that is just, fair, and works for all sections of our communities. We face higher unemployment and underemployment rates than the rest of the country, so it’s vital that we create new jobs. Let’s have joined-up regional business initiatives and stimulus to our local economies. Foreign investment can be helpful too, as long as it doesn’t involve a race-to-the-bottom of wages and rates. Yes, we need more jobs, but also better jobs, that pay at least the Real Living Wage.
-- Workers’ Rights and Stronger Trade Unions
When it was first introduced flexible working was intended to benefit the worker, but it’s become a tool by which employers are ripping off their workers. The workforces that have managed to maintain decent pay and conditions are noticeably those with strong union representation. I’m therefore very proud to champion trade union membership. Employers can benefit too, as secure and happy colleagues tend to be more productive and absent from work less.
- Making More of Technology
Our economy has been changing rapidly and technology has been at the heart of that change. I’ve been inspired by the work of ‘Tech For Good’ and events such as WorkerTech which have shown how tech must be harnessed to assure better work for everyone. Tech can be highly profitable and at the same time a force for social good, if we ensure the right business model.
-- Public Sharing Platforms
It’s perfectly possible for ‘sharing platforms’ to be the intellectual property of municipal government on behalf of the people. I’m excited by the possibility of developing publicly-owned technology right here in Teesside. Let’s hold competitions within our FE and HE institutions to develop apps that enable new services such as car-pooling, cultural events, sports clubs, community group directories and much more.
-- Digital Inclusion
Technology offers people the chance to upskill and progress in life bringing new connections and convenience. However, many still need to support to adapt to the online world. Older people can really benefit from smart gadgets so let’s make it a goal to ensure they aren’t left behind. This will have the added benefit of reducing social isolation, allowing elderly people to live independently for a greater time.
- Training and Innovating
Technology is increasingly the difference between businesses being competitive or uncompetitive. This means businesses using technology as a means of enhancing the skills of their staff, rather than as a means of monitoring their every move. I’m absolutely clear that Tees Valley workplaces needs technology that serves the workforce, not the other way around.
-- Civic Tech Innovation
The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has an inspiring project, the Civic Innovation Challenge, has promoted innovative research to find solutions to electric vehicle charging, affordable housing, dementia care, combatting loneliness and enabling financial inclusion. In the same vein we ought to begin a Tees Valley-wide challenge for businesses to find tech solutions to our local challenges.
-- Trained in Teesside
I believe that “Trained in Teesside” should be a sign of a top-class technical education. Many people were at school in the years before the dot com boom and need help to catch up with the skills required in modern workplaces. The adult education budget should be enabling in-work training to those needing to upskill in line with new technology. By increasing technical training provision we can close the skills shortages we have in industries such as telecoms and engineering.
- A Food Revolution
-- Food Production
The way our local food system works, currently creates unnecessary waste and adverse climate impact. We should begin to transform our food industry to support locally grown and locally produced food. We could do this though:
• Supporting local farmers and food producers, providing investment for growth, alongside encouraging the wider authority and key local institutions such as hospitals, schools and universities to procure food from local suppliers, keeping jobs and money in the region.
• Encourage local food growing and urban gardening and farming. This includes business start up support for food initiatives, the development of community allotments and the creation of new neighbourhood orchards.
-- Reducing Food Waste
Poverty has risen across the UK since 2010 and it has hit our region to the extent that thousands of families are struggling to even put food on the table. I commend the work of volunteers at foodbanks and soup kitchens, whilst recognising that it is time for TVCA to pull its weight too, which should include:
• Encouraging supermarkets and suppliers to reduce food waste and distribute unsold food to support charities.
• Supporting food waste initiatives such as Fuel for Schools and the Real Junkfood Network
A Climate-Radical Region
There is a future for both the planet and our people. They are not at odds, in fact it is only in thinking of them together that we will bring about the radical change, that they both so desperately need. Our whole energy system needs overhauling as we transition away from fossil fuels. We can’t wait to deal with these shifts tomorrow, we have to start today. This means joined up planning for housing, transport, employment and skills. Let’s build houses, publicly owned, low carbon housing so everyone has a home and one that won’t impact the planet. We can do much of this now. And when we get a Labour government, we go even further with community green energy companies, electrification and mass expansion of publicly owned railways, tax breaks for transition for both individuals and companies.
- People and Planet
-- Develop a Green Jobs Hub
We need to champion climate transition careers across the Tees Valley. Adjusting from oil and gas to renewables will take strong political leadership. We need to build a broad coalition from all sectors to create a Green New Deal for Tees Valley. Let’s start with a transition for workers, using our adult education budgets and learning, skills and employability support budgets to train people in climate transition careers, providing hope for workers in the security of a good job and hope for the planet as we transition away from fossil fuel.
-- Biodiversity and Green Spaces
Biodiversity must be a huge priority to any mayor if they want to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. It will be a priority to improve green spaces that offer a home to wildlife of our region and provide healthy outdoor community spaces for all to enjoy. Let’s create small urbans farms and kitchen gardens and work with local authorities to plant 100,000 new trees, creating a continuous Tees Forest habitat in the Tees Valley. This will not only provide valuable spaces for wildlife but also create uplifting walks for the community to enjoy.
- Energy and Waste
-- Energy generation infrastructure
It’s going to be vital to partner with renewable energy firms to increase employment in the sector and encourage more research into sustainability. Capital grants will be needed to fund renewable energy systems such as solar and wind farms across the region. Let’s also explore updates to planning rules to require installation of solar PV panels on new developments. More investment in offshore wind power out in the North Sea would create jobs as well as generating power.
-- Reducing Plastics Use
I think the Mayor has a duty to work with local businesses to drive down the use of single use plastics and drive up the use of environmentally friendly alternatives. Alongside this we could be rolling out water fountains in our public spaces to reduce water bottle usage, together with plastic recycling schemes to divert single use plastic waste from our local environment.
- Reducing Emissions
-- Expand Carbon Capture and Storage
Let’s make the Tees Valley home to Europe’s first Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone. The technology is available to capture up to 90% of emissions which would make a huge impact on our region’s carbon footprint. In achieving success in CCS we could begin to export this innovative technology around the world.
-- Electric Vehicles
Rapid advances in battery technology have left the internal combustion engine looking like a relic from a bygone age. Let’s move into the fast-lane of sustainable transport by working with energy network providers and transport organisations to eliminate the harmful gases from our roads, partnering with other local authorities to bring about a thought-through, long-term plan to reduce our emissions across the region.
- Community Energy
-- Owning our Energy
The big energy firms aren’t moving away from fossil fuels quickly enough. I’m excited by the way other city regions have developed community-owned renewable energy companies that are saving households money on their bills.‘The Leccy’ in Liverpool is a fantastic example that we can look to and learn from. It saves households money on their bills as well as creating well paid local jobs.
-- Local Energy Infrastructure
The costs of generating renewable energy have been tumbling in recent years. Plus, low interest rates mean that money borrowed to fund capital projects such as solar and wind farms can be repaid more quickly bringing forward return-on-investment. I’d like to see us using the acres of roof space on existing buildings for solar (PV) panels. Also, with a high-skilled tech workforce what’s to stop us making those solar panels right here in the Tees Valley?
Breaking new ground for women
I am standing to be the first female metro mayor in the country, I understand first hand the barriers facing women in achieving equality in the workplace, politics and business. I have developed a policy section specifically for women. So often, women are disproportionately impacted by public policy such as cuts to public services which have affected women more than men. Working women are often paid less than working men – even when doing the same job. Changes to family benefits, high childcare costs and the rising cost of living has financially disadvantaged women. Often women’s voices go unheard, which is something I intend to change, for good.
- Championing women’s equality
-- Policy and campaigns
The TVCA needs opening up to ensure that the policies it pursues are properly scrutinised from a women’s perspective and the same goes for our local authorities too. The TUC and regional trade unions can help us to tackle discrimination in the workplace whilst championing women’s issues such as the Period Dignity campaign. On top of this I’m passionate about promote the “3%” campaign that encourages women to take up roles in traditionally male dominated industries helping them become more diverse.
-- Women into Business
Much more support needs to go towards women entrepreneurs in both traditional business and social enterprise. Let’s start a women’s new business grant and investment fund. Within established businesses let’s insist on more family-friendly policies and leave no stone unturned until we drive the gender pay gap right out of Teesside.
-- Womens’ Trades College
I have a vision to work with local education providers to develop the country’s first female trade and employment college and support centre, providing courses and employment support tailored to women.
It will have a specific focus on:
i) Women who face exclusion and barriers within the workplace, such as those with health or childcare needs
ii) Women who are older
iii) Women who want to change careers or progress within the workplace
iv) Women who want to work within STEM and industries perceived to be ‘traditionally male’
- Valuing Care
-- Support for carers
Women still carry the large proportion of caring responsibilities within our communities, whether that be raising children or caring family members who are elderly or unwell. Under Tory austerity support for those in caring roles has been cut to the bone. I want to find practical ways of letting carers know how valued they are.
-- A better deal for care workers
One of the most important forms of employment in our communities is caring for those who are elderly and infirm. Tens of thousands of Teessiders work in the sector, predominantly women, many of whom are paid minimum wage for doing a really stressful job. Getting these wonderful women a better deal has to be a fight worth having. This could include the creation of a care academy, delivered in partnership or supported by trade unions to ensure a professionalisation and unionisation of the care sector.
Investing in our Future
If the Tees Valley thrives but that isn’t felt by our young people, then we are neglecting our future. Young people offer our area so much promise and yet get far too little support. They face substantial barriers to enter the jobs market, including a degrading minimum wage, and outrageously high costs associated with higher education. I have a background in youth work and still spend lots of time around young people, especially as I love to encourage them to engage in politics. This page offers an outline Youth Manifesto based on what young people have told me about the realities of their lives. I’d love to get young people’s feedback on it.
- Empowered and Involved
-- Young people’s empowerment
Any meaningful empowerment has accountability and participation written into it. I’d be delighted to convene a quarterly youth assembly inviting young people from across the Tees Valley to have their voices heard. Alongside this we could hold smaller peer-led working groups to develop new policy ideas.
-- Tackling unemployment and underemployment
Unemployment in the area has hit young people hard. The average for Tees Valley in the 20-24 age category is 6.4% - almost double the national average. Young people in areas such as Hartlepool face unemployment levels almost four times as high as the national average. Tackling unemployment amongst younger people is therefore something we have to take very seriously. Market forces will not ensure a better deal for young people, so intervention is required. They need better contractual arrangements along with more and better-quality apprenticeships leading to secure well-paid jobs.
-- Education, Apprenticeships and Skills
As Mayor I’ll be able to bring together colleges and employers to develop a new 14+ Skills Strategy, including a graduate apprenticeship scheme. The Apprenticeship Levy also needs to be placed under the direction of the mayor to allow for it to be developed into a Skills Levy. This could turbocharge skills devolution in Tees Valley and allow us to invest in high-quality vocational education. I also know that the availability, access and quality of apprenticeships still needs real improvement. I’m impressed by the work of Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, to create a “UCAS for apprenticeships” - a one-stop hub for access to apprenticeship opportunities.
- Homes and Travel
-- Young Adults Housing
High deposits and a rigged rental market mean it’s become almost impossible for the next generation to find a secure home. Let’s challenge our region’s council housing teams and registered social housing providers to establish a new Tees Valley-wide rent-to-own scheme, with the goal of helping young Teessiders under the age of 30 to have a home of their own.
-- Youth Transport Initiative
Transport is central to facilitating youth employment. Without access to transport many young people are left stranded which simply is not good enough. We need our public transport network to support young people in finding and maintaining employment. Therefore, I propose a reduced bus fare for under-21s, subsidised in part by the mayor and in part by the bus companies.
Please make your vote in this election count,
Vote for Jessie Jacobs.