Entrepreneur pushes potential of net zero and apprenticeships as key Labour figure visits council estate

An entrepreneur whose companies are blazing a trail in hiring apprentices and pursuing net zero urged a leading Labour figure to prioritise both as he welcomed him to the council estate in Hull where he spent much of his childhood.

Darren Jones, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, (left) with Daniel Haley founder of GW Power-Safe, outside the HU4 community hub in Sibelius Road, Hull.

Daniel Haley told Darren Jones, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, that an apprenticeship changed his life 20 years ago and could do the same for young people on Boothferry Estate, where he still has family members and many friends and supports the HU4 community hub as a trustee.

He added that the homes in the area are examples of properties which could be retrofitted to meet net zero standards, generating work for businesses in the area and jobs for local people. He asked what Labour could do to remove the obstacles to progress.

Mr Jones joined Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy for a meeting with business leaders and they then visited the community hub.

Mr Haley told of his career journey from completing his apprenticeship to being made redundant and then – 10 years ago when he was just 25 – setting up GW Power-Safe, which specialises in the design, installation and maintenance of building services and infrastructure and now employs 40 people. In 2022 he co-founded C3 Group, which is a leader in decarbonising buildings.

He said: “Because of my business activities I and my clients have some pain points around funding and how to reach net zero. I was keen to understand Labour’s stance on it and find out what is in the pipeline if they get into power because I want to make sure we are aligned with that. It was also interesting talking to other businesses about the issues with attracting talent into their sectors.”

The HU4 hub was opened in Sibelius Road by Dawn and Terry Sullivan in 2020 having evolved from the food bank which they set up in their garage in 2019. It provides residents with warm space, a community café and library, activity space, craft sessions, debt advice, health advice, mum and tots sessions and older peoples sessions. The number of people using the food bank has rocketed from around 50 to nearly 2,000.

Mr Haley said: “Growing up I spent a lot of time in this area with family and friends. It has a lot of good people but not a lot of support. It’s not like other council estates with access to a community centre and it had nothing until the hub opened. They needed someone to do the electrical and heating work so I took care of it for them.

“I’m now a trustee and I do my best to help them raise money and grow it because it’s a really important part of the community. They have the food bank and it’s somewhere for elderly people to go and socialise. Many of them have lived in the area since the early 1960s when it was built as new homes for people from the fishing communities on Hessle Road. A lot of them are on their own and isolated.”

Mr Haley’s concern also extends to the younger generation, and he is working on ideas to bring businesses together to offer more opportunities.

He said: “It’s very frustrating trying to get the young people round here to engage. The hub tries to put things on for them but they are brought up in a different way, it’s a different culture. I remember how important it was for me when I got my apprenticeship to have money in my pocket. I didn’t have to hang around and I wasn’t bored.

“I did my apprenticeship in 2004 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It provided the baseline to grow my own career and I will always have that to fall back on.

“I get so many people wanting to do them now that I don’t have the ability to take all of them on. I try my best to take a couple on every year but there has been a gap in the last few years with businesses not taking them on and we are seeing the effect of that with people struggling to get tradesmen.

“They are ageing and there is not a lot of new talent coming through. At a time when everybody is talking about digitisation and AI, in a few years if you have a trade there will be such high demand for your skills. I’m looking for ways to remove the hassle and negativity from apprenticeships and get businesses pulling together.”

Ms Hardy said: “We will be a mission-led Labour government and our first mission will be to get the economy moving again. That’s why it was so important to come to Hull, talk to businesses who are at the forefront of new industries and technologies and who are active in more traditional sectors and find out more about their needs and priorities.

“By visiting Boothferry Estate we were also able to look closely at the connection between the community and the activities of business, which feeds into our commitment to make decisions that benefit the whole country and bring prosperity everywhere.”

Mr Jones said: “After 14 years of the wrong decisions on the economy from the Conservative Party, people and businesses are worse off. Labour’s plans will turn the economy around and unleash a decade of national renewal. 

“Workers and businesses in and around Hull will benefit from our plans to get Britain building again, reduce energy bills, fix our NHS and revive our high streets.”