BEN HOUCHEN: Freeport will create jobs and put cash in workers’ pockets

It is just seven months since the Chancellor rose to his feet to deliver the Teesside Budget, delivering freeport status for Teesside, a new northern Treasury campus in Darlington and establishing the new UK Infrastructure Bank to invest in places like Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 5:01 pm
Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaking at the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

Seven months on and Rishi Sunak delivered once again for our region, including Hartlepool. Our Freeport was given the final green-light and after months of work we secured millions of pounds to spend on transport priorities in Hartlepool.

Securing a Freeport has been integral to securing foreign investments, such as GE Renewable Energy. With freeport status the global industrial giant is set to create and support over 2,000 construction jobs as they build a mammoth facility to manufacture blades for offshore wind turbines. Another 2,250 direct and supply chain jobs will also be created when the factory becomes operational in 2023. These cleaner, healthier, and safer jobs will put more money in the pockets of local workers for themselves and their families, meaning more money can be spent on our high streets, in our bars and at our restaurants.

Our Freeport is much more than just the Teesworks site though, it’s the biggest in the country because it touches all parts of Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool. Over the next five-years our freeport will create 18,000 good-quality, well paid jobs for local workers, included at the Port of Hartlepool.

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Our iron and steelmaking put Hartlepool and Teesside at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, now we are at the forefront of the Green Industrial Revolution.

Many dismiss our ambitions to reach net zero, but it is precisely these ambitions that are delivering more opportunity and prosperity for our region. We’re leading the country on hydrogen, carbon capture utilisation and storage and offshore wind.

Make no mistake we are ground zero for net zero, and where we lead the rest of the country follows.

The Chancellor also confirmed millions of pounds for transport projects in Hartlepool, including cash for Hartlepool railway station, funding for the Elwick bypass, money for

cutting congestion, improving bus journeys, and making it easier, safer, and more convenient to walk and cycle around the town.

The investments that will create the good-quality jobs we all want to see come to our region won’t come on a bus, they will come through our airport terminal, so the 50 percent cut to domestic Air Passenger Duty is also hugely welcomed.

Creating opportunity and prosperity for the people of our region is at the heart of what we’re delivering. It is not enough to simply make endless announcements of new jobs and opportunity then ultimately fail to deliver. This Chancellor is one that not only appreciates the need to level up Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool, but is one that is committed to doubling down and delivering it, and that is exactly what he is going.