Teesside businessman accused of blocking political campaigner’s sign with his van

TEESSIDE fitness entrepreneur Mike Hind has denied a councillor’s claims that he conspired with a political rival to sabotage his advertising campaign.

Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Jones, who is standing in next month’s Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner election, has been driving to various locations across the area and parking up a trailer with a large ad for his campaign.

But after leaving the trailer on land near Teesworks, Redcar, he discovered a van belonging to Mr Hind’s ‘Macro Based Diner’ business had been parked directly in front of it.

Cllr Jones said Mr Hind was backing the Conservatives’ candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Steve Turner, who he accused of “childish underhand tactics”.

He said: “I am just trying to run a good, honest campaign and this is what you get.”

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Mike Hind

But Mr Hind, who last year received an MBE for his efforts to support key workers and vulnerable residents during the coronavirus outbreak, said he had no real interest in politics, while Mr Turner also said the stunt had nothing to do with him.

Mr Hind said security workers at Teesworks were customers of his and he had been alerted to an exchange with Cllr Jones in the incident last Friday.

The Redcar councillor had allegedly told them to ‘get back in their box and stop being a jobsworth’ after being asked to move the trailer, which was originally chained to a fence before being moved to a patch of unadopted land.

Mr Hind said: “He [Cllr Jones] said he was breaking no laws and could park it where it wants.

“So I thought if that’s the case I won’t be breaking any laws if my van goes there as well – what harm am I doing in trying to make Teesside realise there is a healthy meal company that can help people get fit and healthy after a terrible year?

“I’m not into politics, I don’t understand it, and have no ties to any political party.

“I think left wing and right wing is Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

“As far as Police and Crime Commissioner is concerned, Steve has told me what his plans are and I was quite impressed, but I was also impressed with Paul Williams, who has now stood down.

“I didn’t like the fact that the security guards had been undermined, they do a great job, they have a job to do like everyone else and should be treated with respect.

“When I heard the way he [Cllr Jones] spoke to them and what he’d done, I was a little bit like ‘if it’s alright for the goose it’s alright for the gander’.”

Mr Hind, 37, added: “I can see what Chris is trying to turn it into, but no-one put me up to it or would tell me what to do with my business, I have got a little bit too much to lose.

“Chris should be thanking me for raising his profile a bit.”

Cllr Jones said Mr Turner and Mr Hind had been promoting each other on social media and Mr Turner had “latched on” to the gym owner in an attempt to gain votes.

He said that because of a lack of campaign funds he was “trying his best to get my name out there as cheaply as possible”, but Teesworks officials had said his advertising hoard was not in keeping with the image they were trying to portray with the new entrance to the site.

Cllr Jones said: “They [security staff] were straight over telling me to move it now or they’d have it moved, they were all getting shirty and a bit intimidating.

“I explained to them I was a councillor and it was my campaign board and also that I was on the Tees Valley Combined Authority scrutiny panel and feed into the whole project, and they were still being a bit funny with us.

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Steve Turner mentioning Mike Hind on social media

“They said they owned the fence so I unchained it [the trailer] and moved it away from the fence so it wasn’t harming anyone.

“I’d done my homework and knew it was land I could park the vehicle on.

“There was me and my 75-year-old dad so there was no need for him [Mr Hind] to come running to the rescue.

“He has been saying he wants to work with Steve Turner and support you and the next minute his van is parked in front of my trailer and he is saying it is not political and he is not acting with [Mr] Turner.”

He said he had been “reasonably civil” with the security guards during their initial exchange and had also confirmed with Redcar and Cleveland Council that the boundary for the Teesworks site finished at the fence.

Cllr Jones said: “I told them bluntly I wasn’t moving it and yes they did tell me where to get off and I told them to get off too if you know what I mean.”

‘Named and shamed’ Meanwhile, Cllr Jones said he had complained to the Parliamentary authorities about Redcar MP Jacob Young after he criticised him on Facebook for his actions.

Mr Young wrote: “Don’t think it is a smart way to win votes and would expect elected councillors to follow the rules properly.”

Cllr Jones said he had not broken any rules and said he was upset and disturbed by the post in which he was “named and shamed”.

He said it included misinformation and encouraged abusive comments from some of Mr Young’s followers.

He said: “This is my MP – I know he is going to side with his candidate – but it’s led to me being called a **** end and other stuff, it’s not acceptable.”

Mr Young made no comment on the matter, but referring to the Teesworks incident Mr Turner said: “It makes no difference to me where Chris puts his ads.

“And when it comes to Mike Hind, the actions of private businesses are their private business – I believe Mike was motivated by his own principles.

“It had nothing to do with me in any case.

“I’m really not interested in this kind of silly politics.

“I’m busy speaking to people in our communities about their real concerns over policing in the Cleveland area.”

A spokesman for Teesworks said: “On Friday April 23 the security team attended an incident where a political advertisement was being attached to a Teesworks boundary fence. 

“The individual was asked politely to remove it from our property.”

The Northern Echo | Teesside