Lord Heseltine Meets Mayor Seven Years On From Landmark Report

Tees Valley Combined Authority | Published on: 19th May 2023

Lord Michael Heseltine and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen have shared a stage seven years on from a landmark report which kick-started the region’s devolution deal.

Mayor Houchen met Lord Heseltine and Kate Willard OBE, Thames Estuary Envoy, on Thursday afternoon as part of the three-day UKREiiF event.

The ground-breaking Tees Valley Opportunity Unlimited report, authored by Lord Heseltine, set out opportunities to unlock, promote and support economic growth in the region in the summer of 2016 to build a prosperous future. The paper was central to establishing the office of the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

It was at the Riverside Stadium, sporting a Middlesbrough FC tie, that Lord Heseltine launched the paper on the back of Boro’s promotion to the Premier League.

While there was play-off heartbreak at the Riverside this week, the rise of Teesworks has continued – seeing more than 2,725 long-term jobs created at the former Redcar steelworks site – with the promise of thousands more through Net Zero Teesside and SeAH Wind to turn around a wider site which was costing the taxpayer £1 every second.

The raft of infrastructure projects in the region also underway including the £140million Darlington Station, the Middlesbrough Station redevelopment, and the vision to take Teesside Airport towards profit – all offering evidence of the progress made on the report’s original growth ambitions.

Lord Heseltine’s report and Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission paved the way for the Tees Valley Mayor and the Thames Estuary Envoy who have now forged a unique partnership for levelling up and growth.

Mayor Houchen said: “It’s a real pleasure to join Lord Heseltine – a giant of British politics – in celebrating just how far we’ve come since his report.

“Teesworks is creating good, well-paid jobs here and now, with thousands more green careers to come. We’re turning our airport around and we’re well on with overhauling our vital stations for the future.

“We all have a long way to go but we’ve taken giant strides in achieving the aims Lord Heseltine set out. We are ambitious and want to go further in making our region the number one economic engine for green growth.”

Lord Heseltine told the audience how development corporations paved the way for the regeneration of Liverpool and London Docklands through public-private partnerships.

He added: “There are huge parts of this country which are not receiving the sort of localism agenda which I happen to believe is absolutely fundamental to activating our economy. The functional monopoly of London is a dead hand – the division of the London departments each with their outposts in Local Government is separately considered and judged without any sense of co-ordination.

“It is the last way you would model a dynamic economy. It is, in my view, alone in the Western world as a model of economic, social, and political management.

“The model that works is the Mayoral authority – the unitary authority – with the powers to initiate a local strategy in partnership with central government and to drive the changes known locally but are hardly perceived in Whitehall.”

Some of the Tees Valley’s biggest redevelopment opportunities have been in the spotlight at the country’s largest real estate and investment exhibition in Leeds.

The annual UkREiiF showcase brings together the public sector alongside Government, investors, funders, developers, housebuilders and more to outline investment and development opportunities while helping forge new connections and relationships.

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