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Tees Valley Newsletter – Spring 2021

Message from the Mayor 

What a start to the year!

It’s fair to say 2020 was one of the most difficult, tragic and disruptive in modern memory and while there was no guarantee things would get better just because we had ticked over into 2021, the first three months of this year feels like we have really turned a corner.

Firstly, the coronavirus vaccine rollout is continuing to great success and, along with the roadmap out of lockdown, is giving us light at the end of the tunnel.

All being well, we’ll soon be able to celebrate with our family and friends again, reopen our businesses and recover our economy. With the recent encouraging news about the efficacy of the Novavax vaccine, set to be manufactured right here at FUJIFILM Diosynth’s Billingham base, there’s even more reason to be hopeful.

We’re not only succeeding in the battle against coronavirus, though. This Spring Budget brought with it lots of amazing news for our region. The first was the confirmation that Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool is set to become home to the UK’s largest Freeport. With sites at Teesport, Teesside Airport and all across our region, this will drive the investment and create the good-quality, well-paid jobs of the future needed to supercharge our economy and transform the region. We’re already seeing this pay off, with it being a major part of why GE Renewable Energy chose our area for its wind turbine blade manufacturing facility over a site in France.

The second piece of welcome news is that the Treasury has chosen Darlington as its base for its new Northern campus. Not only will this see 750 civil servants relocate to the region, creating more jobs, it will give our area the ear of Whitehall even more!

Since the start of the year, work has also been continuing to get our airport ready for passengers coming through our doors for our expanded schedule of summer holiday flights. Local companies have been working hard to redevelop our terminal and we’ve also entered into a number of partnerships with charities to further help improve our area.

In other news on redevelopment and charity, I was able to throw open the doors of the new Teesworks Gatehouse, begin demolition on the Torpedo Ladle Shed and also share what our revamped Steel House will look like when it becomes the base for the site’s transformation. I also launched our Teesworks commemorative coin which, to date, has raised more than £13,000 for Redcar charities Walk N Talk and Ladies of Steel.

As you’ll see below, we’ve also launched new funds and schemes to help our cultural and creative sectors, got things going at Middlesbrough station, and improved our careers and jobs offer with the launch of the new TeesValley.Jobs website. We might only be three months into the year, but it’s got off to a flying start.

Teesside Freeport Gets Green Light as Deal Struck to Bring GE to the Region

In March’s Spring Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that Teesside was successful in its bid to set up the UK’s biggest freeport. Covering 4,500 acres, the equivalent of 2,550 football pitches, the Teesside Freeport will be the biggest in the UK and will increase inward investment into Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool by more than £1.4 billion.

The Teesside Freeport includes sites across the region, including Teesworks, Wilton International, Teesside International Airport, the Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Liberty Steel, LV Shipping and PD Ports.

Following the successful bid, a deal was struck with global offshore wind manufacturer, GE Renewable Energy, for its new multimillion-pound state-of-the-art wind turbine blade manufacturing factory to be based on Teesworks, creating 750 jobs and a further 1,500 in the supply chain.

Treasury North Revealed to be Coming to Darlington

The Spring Budget also saw the landmark decision to locate the Treasury’s new Northern Economic Campus, dubbed “Treasury North”, in Darlington.

In a major coup for the Tees Valley, the region beat competition from Newcastle, Leeds and Bradford to be home of the Treasury’s second headquarters.

The move will see 750 senior civil servants from the Treasury, along with other economic based departments, move to Darlington town centre with the first members of Treasury staff potentially arriving in a matter of months.

TeesValley.Jobs Launches to Help Local People Make the Most of New Opportunities

Following a month of major announcements for the region in March, including Teesworks becoming home to the UK’s largest Freeport, GE Renewable Energy creating a facility on the Teesworks site and that the Treasury North will be set up in Darlington, a brand-new jobs service has launched to help local people access opportunities across the Tees Valley.

The new Tees Valley Jobs website will bring together in one place local jobs on offer. The website covers all industries, with roles relating to these new developments when they become available, and vacancies from across the whole of the region.

For more information, visit

Airport Overhaul Continues Ahead of Summer Take-Off

Teesside International Airport is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, as it looks to make 2021 a transformative year full of opportunity despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In January, Loganair announced a new route between Teesside International Airport and London Heathrow, while the first Loganair flight from Teesside in two-and-a-half years took off in February, bound for Aberdeen. These new routes come ahead of low-cost operator Ryanair’s flights to Alicante and Palma, Majorca this summer, JetsGo Holidays’ routes to Majorca, Balkan Holidays’ trips to Bulgaria and the return of TUI in summer 2022.

Transformation of the airport’s main terminal building is well under way, with local contractors appointed to help deliver the overhaul ahead of the summer.

Darlington-based 186 Property Solutions will be responsible for redeveloping the central search area as part of the upgrade to security. Also from Darlington, Wharton Construction will be creating the airside bar area. Billingham-based Infinity Construction North East and Eaglescliffe’s MJ Joinery will be upgrading the airport’s toilets, while Powercare Electrical Services, from Ingleby Barwick, will join the project as an electrical subcontractor.

Two local businesses – beauty salon Rejoy and fashion boutique House of Zana – have signed a deal to launch a new shop in the airport’s departure lounge to showcase a range of fantastic products from independent retailers from across the region.

As redevelopment ramps up, a competition was launched for members of the public to help name the Airport’s new bar and be in with the chance to win flights from the airport to one of Loganair’s many destinations, with The Goosepool eventually chosen.

A new fundraising partnership has also been announced with three local charities –  Alice House Hospice, the Great North Air Ambulance Service and the MFC Foundation.

And specialist Aviation Consultancy, Cyrrus, is expanding its operations to a new site at the airport, with its office focused on services designing airspace take-off and landing route plans, as well as its airport safeguarding.

Teesworks’ New-Look Entrance Launched to Wow Investors

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Redcar and Cleveland Council leader Mary Lanigan at the brand new £4million gate house at Teessworks, Redcar. Picture by Tom Banks

In March, the doors to the new £1million Teesworks Gatehouse were thrown open. The revamped entrance includes a new modern gatehouse, car parking areas, bespoke street lighting and modern landscaping to create a welcoming arrival for visitors and international investors. A purpose-built 3.7-metre-high LED screen has also been installed onto the newly decorated bridge as a feature to showcase the capabilities of the industrial zone.

Major demolition work has started to knock down Teesworks’ Torpedo Ladle Shed in what is the site’s biggest demolition project to date. The torpedo shed is the last building left standing on the 143-acre Dorman Long area and clearing the sheds will unlock the final 30 acres of land on the site, paving the way to create a new commercial zone.

New images were also released that detail the transformation of the iconic Steel House, the former British Steel Corporation’s Teesside headquarters, and the new, modern look that will be in place when it becomes the base for the development of the entire Teesworks site.

As work ramps up on-site, a coin forged out of some of the last iron to be made on Teesside has launched to celebrate the area’s steelmaking heritage. The keepsake will let the public take home a piece of the former Redcar steelworks and was created by Middlesbrough’s oldest foundry, the William Lane Foundry, from iron recovered from the Redcar Blast Furnace.

With a voluntary recommended donation of £10, people can choose whether their donation goes to local community groups, Walk N Talk or Ladies of Steel with more than £13,000 raised to date.

Middlesbrough Station’s £34million Upgrade On Track with Direct London Service Due to Start This Year

Following the start of work to upgrade Middlesbrough Station it was revealed that direct trains between Middlesbrough and London will return by the end of this year for first time in decades.

To allow for more services and the longer LNER Azuma trains that run on the East Coast Main Line to the capital, platform 2 is being extended with construction work set to be complete by May.

Further phases of the scheme will see major customer service improvements at the station including opening up the redundant, derelict and dilapidated station undercroft to provide a new entrance into the station subway and newly refurbished workspaces. There will also be upgrades to the road to the front of the station, improving access between the station and the town centre. A further phase will see a new platform 3 built to the north of platform 2 to further increase train capacity within the station. Hits 1000th Business Target and Expands to Primary Age Children

Hartlepool-based Hogg Global Logistics became the 1,000th business to support the initiative, helping to raise ambitions and improve the career prospects of local secondary school and college students.

The £3million initiative launched in 2018 with a target of engaging 1,000 Tees Valley businesses to support the region’s 100,000 11-18-year-olds, giving them high-quality careers guidance along with substantial contact with a wide range of local businesses across all sectors. The target was smashed during National Careers Week, which ran in the first week of March.

This milestone came on the back of the initiative expanding to thousands of primary pupils, with a new £750,000 pilot launched in January. This expansion will deliver support and resources to the area’s 204 primary schools, giving an extra 67,500 young people, their teachers, parents and guardians careers education. The website has also been expanded to include a dedicated primary-age area.

Now in its ninth year the Tees Valley Careers Expo took place virtually on 18 March, giving local young people the opportunity to engage with colleges, training providers and local employers about opportunities that are available to them.

Tall Ships heading back to Hartlepool

Hartlepool has been selected to host the world-famous Tall Ships again in the summer of 2023. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from far and wide flocked to the town when the vessels last visited in 2010.

Hartlepool’s Tall Ships bid document and a supporting video – produced by local company In Studio – can be viewed at

New Grant To Help Region’s Festivals Bounce Back Safely

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen at the 2019 Middlesbrough Mela

A new Festivals 2021 Recovery Grant has been launched to help kickstart hugely important and much-loved festivals across the Tees Valley following the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The new fund will provide grant funding to established festival businesses, freelancers, and local councils to develop and deliver plans for the region’s festivals which are flexible and can change in line with the latest official guidance.

Applicants to the fund, launched as part of the £1million Recovery Programme for the Cultural Industries and Visitor Economy, can claim up to 20% of their budgets, with grants running from around £5,000 to £50,000.

Policy Update  

Budget 2021

The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Budget to Parliament on Wednesday, 3 March 2021 setting out the continuation of the government’s Coronavirus support packages for businesses and employees and the plans to drive jobs, growth and investment to help the economy rebound.

The headlines for the Tees Valley include:

  • Teesside announced as one of eight Freeport locations in England.
  • Darlington announced as the location for the Treasury’s new northern economic campus.
  • Centre for Process Innovation in Darlington is to receive £5million from the vaccine Taskforce’s existing funding to acquire a ‘library’ of Covid vaccines to use in its work against different variants.
  • The government will sign a memorandum of understanding with Teesworks Offshore Manufacturing Centre on Teesside to support the development of an offshore wind port hub.
  • Town Deals Funding of £46million for Middlesbrough and Thornaby.
  • £1.8million investment for Borough Hall in Hartlepool to transform it into a cultural venue.
  • Intra-city transport settlement – capacity funding in 2021-22 of £3.5million for Tees Valley.

Levelling Up Fund Prospectus

The Levelling Up Fund prospectus was launched alongside the Budget 2021. The £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets. The prospectus provides guidance to local areas on the process for submitting bids, the types of projects eligible for funding, and how bids will be assessed.

UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus

The UK Community Renewal Fund prospectus was launched alongside the Budget 2021. The fund will support communities across the UK in 2021-22 to pilot programmes and new approaches as the government moves away from the EU Structural Funds model and towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. To ensure that funding reaches the places most in need, the government has identified 100 priority places based on an index of economic resilience to receive capacity funding to help them co-ordinate their applications. Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland are listed in the 100 priority places.

Covid-19 & EU Exit Business Survey Launches To Help Shape Local Business Support Offer

The vaccine programme, along with the UK’s Roadmap to Recovery, will soon start to see the economy re-open and grow. Together with Teesside University we are calling for the local business community to share their experiences and needs at this critical point, as they continue to navigate the impact of Covid-19 and get to grips with the new EU trading agreement.

This will help us ensure that local businesses are getting the guidance and support needed to respond and thrive during these unprecedented times.

Open to businesses of all sizes across all sectors, the survey takes just fifteen minutes and can be completed here.