Anger as business bosses ‘left out’ of new transport group

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TEES Valley business bosses have hit out after claiming they were excluded from an influential new transport group.

The new body – called the Board of Transport for the North – was launched in Leeds yesterday.

It was set up by the Government to come up with a long-term plan for transport investment which would stretch over the next 15 years, and which would make the North an economic powerhouse.

Transport for the North was set up by the Government in October. It is led by the city regions that made up One North: Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, together with Hull and the Humber, working in collaboration with the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Network Rail, and HS2 Ltd.

But bosses at Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) said our area was excluded and branded the decision as “extraordinary”.

Three leading figures at the local enterprise partnership say the area, which puts billions into the UK economy each year, has no representation.

TVU chairman Sandy Anderson, vice chairman Coun Bill Dixon and infrastructure lead David Robinson issued a joint statement.

They said: “It is extraordinary that Tees Valley has not been asked to work as an active member of the board to enhance the infrastructure offer of the North, and provide real opportunities for growth.”

They told how the Tees Valley contributes more than £10billion to the national economy every year and “plays a vital role in the economic life of the North of England”.

It has the UK’s largest integrated industrial complex and is the only UK area to export more than it imports.

It boasts Teesport, a key terminal with two container quays, and which has “roll-on roll off” facilities and direct routes across the globe.

The statement said: “Effective and efficient transport networks are crucial to the growth of the North’s economy, and the Tees Valley has a critical role to play in this.”

The TVU bosses added: “It is only a couple of months since Tees Valley’s growth potential was recognised by Government signing the Tees Valley Growth Deal.

“To omit Tees Valley from the Transport for the North Board fails to recognise the critical importance of Tees Valley’s distinct economic contribution to the UK economy, the critical importance of its logistics infrastructure to the North of England, and the benefits to the whole of the North’s economy that can be achieved through greater connectivity with Tees Valley.”

A spokesman for Transport for the North said: “Today’s meeting marks the start of a major programme which will transform connectivity across the North.

“The transition from OneNorth to Transport for the North has been marked by a formal arrangement to make sure everyone’s voice across the North can be heard, including that of Tees Valley.”