Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen today (May 29) took another step forward in securing a Freeport for the region with the finalisation of a submission to the Government’s consultation on Freeports.
The Mayor worked with councils, stakeholders and businesses to lay out the benefits a Freeport would bring to Tees Valley.
The formal response, covering customs, tax, planning, regeneration and policy considerations, makes the case for such a zone in the region.
The submission to the Government’s consultation builds on work done on Freeports by Mayor Houchen that culminated in a detailed policy paper being submitted to Government in 2019. The paper found a Freeport on the River Tees could create up to 32,000 jobs and add £2billion to the regional economy.
Freeports provide special freedoms to trade, within a specific area around a major port. Freeport status supports the expansion of international trade by offering exemptions from certain operational, regulatory and customs requirements.
The consultation submission was backed unanimously by the Combined Authority Cabinet.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “A Freeport in the Tees Valley represents a fantastic opportunity to turbocharge our local economy and bring with it much needed jobs, growth and investment for our local people.
“These are going to be more important than ever as we look to the future and to playing our part in the UK’s economic recovery from the current coronavirus pandemic.
“In this document, we set out what we want to see from Freeports to help us best capitalise on our emerging clean growth and advanced manufacturing ambitions and, just as importantly, what our brilliant businesses want to see from Government’s Freeport plans.
“For years I’ve been pushing a case for a Freeport right here, and Government is now listening. This has given us another important chance to help shape how Government will deliver this new scheme in the interests of local people and companies across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”
Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Inward Investment, said: “All reports point to Freeports being brilliant for the people I represent across Redcar and East Cleveland. It will help our area attract businesses in the sectors of the future and create thousands of good-quality jobs for future generations.
“Thanks to the work of the Mayor, backed by some of the biggest businesses from across the region, we’re getting our voice out there and letting Government know how we want things to be done.”
The consultation came following last year’s visit to the region by Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, when she announcement that a Freeports Commission would be established by Government to look at creating up to ten such zones across the UK.
In early 2019, the Mayor submitted a policy paper to Government championing a Freeport in Tees Valley, building on the recommendations of a 2016 policy paper by now Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, forming part of a campaign which launched in 2018 and was backed by more than 50 leading employers in the area.