Hartlepool and Tees Valley ‘ready as ever to deliver in global marketplace’, says politician

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A prominent politician says the Tees Valley could become a hotspot for global investment after a review prompted by the collapse of steelmaking at SSI.

Lord Michael Heseltine says today the region can once again become a huge economic growth area.

The region is ready as ever to deliver in a global marketplace

Lord Heseltine

The former deputy Prime Minister has come up with a number of recommendations for the government and local leaders to help the Tees Valley become a powerhouse of economic activity.

His proposals to create the conditions for the area to prosper include Hartlepool Borough Council tapping into £250 million of government money to explore if a new nuclear site in town could host a Small Modulator Reactor.

Another is to quickly establish a South Tees Development Corporation combining all business advice and support currently offered by several local bodies into one service.

Lord Heseltine also recommends the Combined Authority becoming the source for “ambitious, visible and determined leadership” to transform education and skills across the Tees Valley.

Highways England are encouraged to seriously investigate adding a scheme to provide a new Tees Crossing road to the existing scope of the A19 Norton-Wynyard widening scheme.

And the Government should seriously investigate extending the Transpennine electrification rail scheme to include the Northallerton-to-Teesport line.

Lord Heseltine said: “This area has flown the flag for Britain around the world for centuries, and is now looking to make its mark in sectors as diverse as advanced manufacturing, energy, chemicals and processing, digital and logistics.

“The region is ready as ever to deliver in a global marketplace and I set out today how we can support this admirable ambition for it to once again assert its character on the world stage.”

Lord Heseltine was commissioned by the government to write the report following the closure of the SSI plant in Redcar when 1,700 workers lost their jobs.

Councillor Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and outgoing chair of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “His findings confirm that our economic foundations are sound, our local capacity is strong and our plans for future success are well drawn.

“He also makes it clear that delivering sustainable growth and prosperity can only be done in partnership and with adequate support from Government.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton, also Stockton South MP, said the Government was committed to boosting the local economy through the creation of the Northern Powerhouse.