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Tees Valley Newsletter – Autumn 2020

Message from the Mayor 

It has been another busy three months despite the uncertainty and challenges, with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continuing to be felt across the region and the UK.

We have been able to make some big announcements while also continuing to help many of our brilliant businesses not only survive but begin to thrive once again.

To help protect our economy as companies started to reopen, a £1.2million Back to Business fund was established, we helped SMEs take advantage of the Government’s Kickstart fund for new workers, while take-up for our funding to create 100 apprentices continued strongly.

As we continued to relaunch flights from Teesside International, we also re-established our all-important link between Teesside and London Heathrow, which is a must-have for any serious airport and a fantastic connection for businesses and holidaymakers alike. To give local people the best-ever experience and modernise the airport as we look to increase our footfall to 1.4million passengers, we have also embarked on a series of upgrades. These include a £1million redevelopment of our security area and an overhaul of arrivals, to wow everyone who lands here.

But probably the most work has been at Teesworks, formerly the South Tees Development Corporation site. This bold new rebrand has kicked off a massive amount of demolition and remediation work, with £393million of investment over the next 12 months unlocking 775 jobs as we look to redevelop what is the UK’s largest industrial zone.

It isn’t all just numbers, though, we’re making a direct impact on people’s lives now. Some of those helping to prepare the site for investment are former SSI steelworkers who lost their jobs when the facility closed five years ago – and it’s great to see them back on-site, giving it their all!

Those are just the headlines of what has been a productive quarter for us in the face of the current circumstances. You can read what we’ve been doing in more detail below.

 

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus support

To help protect our economy against the continued impacts of the coronavirus, while aiding recovery from the UK-wide lockdown in spring, more funds and interventions have been established to assist businesses in our region.

Following the success of the £1million Welcome Back Fund for hospitality, arts and tourism businesses announced in June, a further £1.2million Back to Business fund was set up in July.

This fund offers grants of up to £3,000 to allow small and medium-sized businesses to get direct professional support, advice and guidance in areas such as HR, accountancy, legal, financial, health and safety, IT and digital to aid recovery and future growth.

Mayor Houchen also called on the region’s small and medium-sized businesses to make use of the Government’s new Kickstart scheme to create 500 jobs for the region’s young people. The £2billion fund aims to create hundreds of thousands of high-quality six-month work placements for those aged 16-24 on Universal Credit and deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Companies seeking to create up to 30 roles can apply to Government directly, but Tees Valley Business is acting as a gateway to lead bids for those wanting to take on fewer than 30 people. More information can be found at teesvalleybusiness.com/kickstart-tees-valley.

To help young people find jobs and training opportunities during this time, the TeesValleyCareers.com website has also been entirely redeveloped. Darlington-based Hush Digital helped totally overhaul the site, which now offers valuable resources on next steps for careers, apprenticeships and further education, and practical advice on CVs, interviews and university applications. Information on jobs and training opportunities is updated weekly.

Find out more information at TeesValleyCareers.com

 

Teesside Airport Secures Heathrow Link

Teesside International Airport is continuing its phased reopening and, over the past three months, has re-established connections new and old – including the first flight to London Heathrow in more than a decade.

The new route, operated by Eastern Airways, was announced by Mayor Houchen in August and just over a month later the inaugural departure took off, once again connecting the region to the UK’s largest airport which serves more than 180 destinations across 84 countries.

Eastern Airways’ flights to Aberdeen, Belfast and Southampton resumed, while it was announced that its service to Cornwall Airport Newquay was being expanded to become year-round.

A host of non-domestic breaks have also been revealed, with Transun’s ever-popular Christmas Lapland daybreak coming back to the airport once again on 13 and 23 December. The flights give local people the chance to fly direct from Teesside to the Finnish destination, where they can seek out Santa’s cabin and meet the man himself.

Looking further ahead, flights to Bulgaria and Majorca have been confirmed for the 2021 summer season as the airport works to deliver a bigger and better offering after the coronavirus pandemic impacted flights this year.

Balkan Holidays’ beach holiday breaks to Bulgaria will run twice-weekly on Thursdays and Sundays from May 23, giving holidaymakers the opportunity for seven, ten, 11 and 14-day breaks to popular beach resorts such as Sunny Beach, Nessebar and Golden Sands. JetsGo’s Majorca trips were also paused due to the pandemic, but they will be flying from Teesside to the popular Spanish island from Sunday 25 July, with the final return on 19 September.

To make the experience at Teesside better than ever, major upgrades are happening within the airport terminal. A £1million overhaul of the security area, set to be complete by April, has seen the introduction of state-of-the-art body and bag scanners. These mean that passengers will no longer need to remove liquids and electrical items like laptops out of their bags and pass them through security separately.

Ongoing work to revamp the arrivals hall is now taking place, with new walls, signage, fresh flooring and painting work making travel through arrivals as smooth as possible. When complete, this work will give potential investors and visitors alike the best welcome possible to the airport and the region.

This all complements the work being done to support businesses established within the airport site. The first two planes have now landed at global aviation firm Willis Asset Management’s base which carries out maintenance, storage and disassembly of aircraft. The first, a Boeing 737, arrived in late August with the second, a B737 Fiji Airways plane arriving a month later. Willis’s base at Hangars 1 and 1A of the airport will potentially create up to 20 highly skilled engineering and management jobs with the opportunity for further expansion.

Cobham Aviation Services UK, another important airport partner, has announced a major new long-term deal, keeping them stationed at Teesside International for years to come. Cobham operates and maintains a fleet of specially modified Dassault Falcon 20 aircraft from their base at the airport, and it has recently secured a strategically important, long-term contract with the Ministry of Defence to continue to grow its services. The firm is building on its local base, having increased its workforce numbers by 25% over the past 18 months.

 

Teesworks Launched As Major Demolition Projects Begin

Teesworks

A new name and fresh look for the former South Tees Development Corporation site has been launched, alongside a 12-month, £393million demolition and works plan which will create 775 jobs.

The doors have been thrown open for the newly named Teesworks, the UK’s largest industrial zone, with a schedule involving 19 separate demolitions taking place under 18 individual contracts. Some local construction companies are on site remediating land now, with more to come as contracts are awarded in the following months.

As part of the bold new look, plans have been submitted for an impressive new £1million state-of-the-art gateway entrance to the site. A new gatehouse, with improved security measures, will be created, alongside a makeover to the iconic Steelworks bridge. Construction is set to start as early as October and be completed by the end of the year.

In securing future investment on the site, the vital role the site played in making the region a powerhouse in iron and steelmaking can never be forgotten. A Teesworks Heritage Taskforce has now been established to celebrate its history, chaired by Redcar MP Jacob Young and including Tees steel industry veteran John Baker, North Area Chair of Arts Council England Kate Willard, Teesside steel historian Tosh Warwick and a representative of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

To let local people see the site one final time before some of the most iconic structures are demolished, a series of 62 guided coach tours around the site are set to begin next Monday and run throughout October.

A new academy is also being established to ensure local people have the best skills possible to take advantage of the new jobs and opportunities that are being created at Teesworks. When established, the Teesworks Skills Academy will link investors, employment hubs, skills providers, jobseekers and apprentices to create a world-class workforce for the future, equipped with the skills businesses at the site will need to grow and succeed.

Teesworks is now working to appoint a delivery partner to set up the hub, help develop a skills plan to coordinate training and recruitment across the region and work with organisations to match employers with potential employees for the site.

Some former steelworkers are once again on the ground at the site of their former employer, after securing jobs with Hall Construction Services to remediate land as part of the development.

Hall is carrying out works on the Southbank area of the site to help prepare it for future investment, and one of its employees, Ray Milner, said he jumped at the chance to come back to his hometown and be based here again. He was filmed alongside colleagues Paul Chambers, John Muirhead, Richie White, Shane Laughman and Lee Dudley who all told their stories, which have since been shared via the @TeesworksUK Twitter account and on Teesworks.co.uk.

 

Routes to Work A Success As It Hits Targets Early

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen with Paul Chambers

The region’s £7.5million Routes to Work pilot scheme has smashed its targets months early.

The pilot provides a range of support for unemployed or economically inactive people over-30s who need the most help to get back into work. It identifies and addresses multiple barriers to employment and engages a number of providers for a wide-ranging, joined-up assistance.

It aimed to have 2,500 people engaged, with 375 back into employment by 31 March next year, but the latest figures have shown it has already engaged with more than 2,800 people, helping 488 back into employment to date.

One such success story is Paul Chambers, who has now found work with Hall Construction on the Teesworks site. He linked up with to Routes to Work after being out of employment for almost a year. Health conditions and a run of personal bad luck led to contact with the initiative and now he couldn’t be happier.

Paul said: “When I first got in touch with my Routes to Work key worker, a girl called Trina, I was out of work with arthritis in my foot, had to move out of my home and it was a hard time. Before this, I was always fit, active and in a job, so being unemployed was a massive blow that was part of a downward spiral.

“With the help of Routes to Work I was given the confidence to put myself back out there for jobs. It helped me gain training and a licence for an articulated dumper, which led to the work with Hall.

“I’ve worked here myself previously at the ore terminal, and my brothers have worked here. I live in Middlesbrough so it’s half an hour from home and I love driving my dumper – it’s perfect.”

New Ways to Get Around the Tees Valley

Getting around Tees Valley

In July, Middlesbrough became the first area in the UK to pilot the use of e-scooters as a socially distanced alternative to public transport.

Since the launch, the clean energy electric vehicles have been rolled out to Hartlepool and Redcar, with more than 90 scooters across ten locations. They are proving so popular that riders have already racked up enough miles travelling around the region to take them right around the circumference of the earth and more. Almost 26,000 miles have been racked up, with more than 3,000 local people taking almost 5,000 rides to date.

When the pilot, delivered by an e-scooter company called Ginger, is at full strength up to 500 of the battery powered vehicles will be on the region’s roads and cycleways over the next 12 months.

E-scooters are a new way to move around our towns, but for those people in rural communities, the Tees Flex on-demand bus service has also been expanded.

More than 1,000 passengers per week have been using the state-of-the-art £3million service, and from September the buses began to serve even more destinations. These included Nunthorpe Station and James Cook Hospital for residents of Redcar & Cleveland; Greatham Village, Tees Bay Retail Park and Hartlepool College for those in Hartlepool; and the Amazon Warehouse, Egglescliffe School and Stockton Riverside College for people in Stockton and Darlington, along with many more.

Tees Flex, which operates six days a week, can be booked via a smartphone app, a website or over the telephone. As a result of the pandemic, new safety measures have been introduced, including the wearing of face masks and limiting customer numbers to six per vehicle, to ensure those using the service have the safest journey possible.

For more information, visit teesflex.co.uk

 

Tees Valley Fixture Announced for Rugby League World Cup 2021

Getting around tees valley

The Tees Valley will play host to Tonga versus the Cook Islands men’s group stage match for next year’s Rugby League World Cup, it has been announced.

The fixture will be played at Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside Stadium at 2.30pm on Sunday 7 November 2021.

The two teams, both from islands in the South Pacific Ocean, have faced each other 12 times previously, with world number-four ranked team Tonga winning 11 of those head-to-heads.

The announcement comes just over a month after it was revealed that the Cook Islands would be based in Tees Valley while they compete in the seven-week tournament. The Cook Islands take their name from Middlesbrough-born Captain James Cook, who visited many of the nation’s southern islands.

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 is looking to deliver the biggest and best Rugby League tournament ever and the event could give Tees Valley an economic boost of up to £8million, attracting tens of thousands of international rugby fans to the area.

 

Policy Update

Autumn Budget and Winter Economy Plan

On Wednesday, 23 September, the Treasury announced that the Autumn Budget has been put on hold until next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Following this announcement, The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement to Parliament on Thursday, 24 September, on the Winter Economy Plan, which included the announcement of measures aimed at protecting jobs and the economy over the winter period.

The plan seeks to balance the need to manage the virus and protect jobs. The primary goal of the Government’s economic policy of supporting people’s jobs remains unchanged. The targeted measures set out in the plan are to enable businesses to protect viable jobs and manage their finances in the face of reduced or uncertain demand while allowing the economy to adapt to a new normal.

The measures include:

  • The introduction of the Job Support Scheme will replace the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will start on 1 November and be operational for six months.
  • An extension to the Self-Employed Grant Scheme
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme repayments will be extended from six to ten years.
  • Government Guarantees in the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme extended up to ten years.
  • The deadline of all loan schemes has been extended until the end of the year and a successor scheme will be in place in January 2021.
  • Businesses who deferred their VAT will not have to pay a lump sum at the end of March next year. Businesses will now have the option of splitting it into smaller, interest free payments over the course of 11 months.
  • The planned increase in January 2021 of VAT from 5% to 20% for the tourism and hospitality industry has been cancelled and the lower rate of 5% will remain until 31st March 2021.

Comprehensive Spending Review 2020

The Comprehensive Spending Review was launched in July 2020 and Government has indicated that it will be published in the Autumn, setting out departmental spending and priorities for Parliament.

The Comprehensive Spending Review 2020 will prioritise:

  • Strengthening the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by prioritising jobs and skills.
  • Levelling up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people.
  • Making the UK a scientific superpower, including leading in the development of technologies that will support the Government’s ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Strengthening the UK’s place in the world.

As part of the CSR process, written representations can be made to Government from interest groups, individuals or representative bodies. Representations can comment on Government policy or suggest new policy ideas and are welcomed by the Treasury as part of the policymaking process.

Tees Valley Combined Authority has made a written representation to the Treasury, identifying a suite of proposals for investment that can support the Tees Valley to realise its full economic potential as a global leader in clean energy and the hydrogen economy – supporting increased productivity and creating good jobs with long term prospects.

The investments proposed in our representation will simultaneously support the achievement of Government’s priorities and include: –

  • Establishing the Tees Valley as an exemplar region in clean energy and the hydrogen economy, delivering new, innovative technologies that enable the achievement of targets for Net Zero carbon emissions
  • Accelerating infrastructure developments to provide the platform for future economic growth while providing construction jobs at a time of immediate need and building confidence in the Tees Valley post-Covid.
  • Supporting the achievement of our ambitions for economic growth and creating good jobs with long-term prospects that local people can access.
  • Supporting new opportunities in the short-term, while producing high-quality jobs, boosting the region’s productivity, and driving the Government’s levelling up ambitions in the longer term