Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has welcomed the Chancellor’s latest Budget, dubbing it “the second Budget for Teesside” after Teesside’s freeport status was confirmed.
With the official green-light the Teesside Freeport can officially open for business, which means not only will it be the largest freeport in the country but it will also be the first one to be set up. It is expected that the project will deliver 18,000 good-quality, well paid jobs for local workers over the next 5-years in the cleaner, healthier, and safer industries of the future.
The news comes after a series of major announcements ahead of the Budget which have provided nearly half a billion pounds in new money for Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.
Ahead of the Budget, Mayor Houchen was able to secure £417m for local transport and key infrastructure projects, including a new quay at Teesworks. This includes £310m in fresh funding to invest in local transport priorities including rail, road, bus and cycling to make the region more connected than ever, helping local people to access jobs and training right across the region.
Cash is also available to improve Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Hartlepool, South Bank and Redcar stations, as well as line improvements and gauge clearance to help improve freight connectivity.
The transport funding will help deliver maintenance on the A66, a critical link for the Teesside Freeport and Teesworks, and many other highways schemes. Cash for bus priority road improvements, bus shelters and zero-emission vehicles and new cycleways will also be made available.
In a huge coup for the region Mayor Houchen was able to secure the first deal from the UK Infrastructure Bank which will now provide £107m to make the first part of the South Bank Quay at Teesworks a reality. This will see part of the former Redcar Steelworks site along the River Tees transformed into a 450-metre quay to service GE Renewable Energy’s factory that will build 107 metre long blades for offshore wind turbines.
The project will significantly boost the UK’s capability in offshore wind sector, supporting the Government’s target to be a world leader in the sector by 2035 and the UK’s plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The UK Infrastructure Bank deal will support around 800 high quality jobs directly, with the potential to unlock thousands of jobs in total across the site.
The Chancellor also confirmed that Yarm and Eaglescliffe would receive £20m in fresh funding from the Levelling Up Fund. This is just the latest funding secured for Stockton and comes hot on the heels of £24m from the Towns Fund for Thornaby, £16.5m to improve Stockton high street and £15m upgrade to Eaglescliffe Station.
The funding secured for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is the culmination of months of work by Mayor Houchen and included lengthy and detailed negotiations with Rishi Sunak and his Treasury team, including Simon Clarke MP in his role as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to ensure the Budget delivered on local priorities of securing investment and creating good-quality well paid jobs for local people.
Mayor Houchen said: “Coming just 7-months after the Chancellor delivered a Budget that provided a huge amount for our region, he has delivered a second Budget for Teesside.”
“Since he stood at the Dispatch Box in March and announced that Teesside would be home to the UK’s biggest freeport, we’ve been working flat out to make our plans for the Teesside Freeport a reality, and I’m delighted they’ve been given the final green-light, which also means we’ll be the first freeport in the country.
“Our freeport will create 18,000 good-quality well paid jobs for local workers over the next 5-years, put more money in their pockets for themselves and their families and play a huge roll in Teesside becoming ground zero for net zero.
“With £310m to deliver our transport priorities, including cash for Darlington, Eaglescliffe, Hartlepool, South Bank and Redcar train stations, as well as line improvements; plus £107m to deliver the first phase of the new South Bank Quay on the Teesworks site this Budget is providing one of the biggest injections of cash into Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool for a generation.
“The double whammy of domestic Air Passenger Duty been charged on both departing and returning flights is something I have long campaigned against, while it will still be charged on both flights, the 50% cut announced by the Chancellor is a very welcome move.
“This shows that the Chancellor is committed to Teesside and levelling up the north so we can secure the investment that will create the good-quality skilled jobs.
“Over the last 18-months we’ve come through some of our darkest times with the coronavirus pandemic, but I’ve always said our comeback is always stronger than the setback and we are now bouncing back stronger than ever and now is our time.”