Skip to main content

Tees Valley Newsletter – Summer 2019

Message from the Mayor 

If one theme has come out of the past few months, it’s that Tees Valley is going national – and international.

All eyes were on us in late May for Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough, which saw stars such as Miley Cyrus, Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix come to the region for one of the biggest music festivals in the UK. Hot on the heels of that festival came Take That the next week, and both were massive coups for the region.

These concerts proved that we have what it takes to pull off huge events, boosted the visitor economy by £3million and gave our airport staff a great opportunity for selfies when Lewis, Mark Ronson and Craig David flew in.

MK with airport staff and Lewis Capaldi arriving in style

Speaking of the airport, the first holiday flights in five years have taken off, with travel company Balkan Holidays committing to a full summer schedule of charter flights this year and next. It shows a massive vote of confidence in everything we’re doing to turn the airport around through our 10-year turnaround plan.

Also taking off were breaks to Jersey and the annual Middlesbrough Diocese pilgrimage to Lourdes. I had the pleasure of waving off the passengers bound for France and also waiving the passenger facility fee.

In the short-term, we’ve also given the airport a little facelift, with new signage and updated advert boards showing visitors what the region has to offer.

This work has all gone on against a backdrop of huge change in Tees Valley. Following the recent local elections, we have seen Council Leaders change in four of our five boroughs, meaning four new faces on the Combined Authority Cabinet.

I’ve welcomed Darlington’s Cllr Heather Scott, Hartlepool’s Cllr Shane Moore, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston and Cllr Mary Lanigan from Redcar & Cleveland and the returning Cllr Bob Cook from Stockton-on-Tees ahead of our AGM later this month. I look forward to working with them to drive more change and continue the great work that you can read about in this quarter’s newsletter.

Top Events Come To Tees Valley

Two major music events have taken place in Tees Valley, with support from the Combined Authority.

The BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend came to Stewart Park on May 26 – 28, bringing a who’s who of singers and bands including Miley Cyrus, Little Mix, The 1975 and Lewis Capaldi. Around 70,000 people, 85% from within the Tees Valley, attended the festival over the weekend, generating an estimated £2million for the region’s tourist economy.

The Enjoy Tees Valley brand was also put front-and-centre, with a 20ft by 8ft flower wall, below, created for the event, which was used by up to 16,000 people and spread across social media.

That flower wall was then taken to Take That’s concert the following weekend. More than 31,000 fans visited Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium for the concert, again boosting the economy by an estimated £1million.

The Big Weekend kicked off the Tees Valley’s packed summer of events, which includes a concert by Jess Glynne in Darlington on August 1, the Great North CityGames and SIRF in Stockton, Hartlepool Waterfront Festival and the Festival of Thrift in Redcar.

Region To Host Rugby League World Cup 2021 Team

A world-class Rugby League team will call Tees Valley its home during the sport’s 2021 World Cup.

Rockliffe Hall and Darlington Mowden Park will play host to an international men’s team, with the players staying at the Darlington hotel and spa and training at the arena, for the seven-week tournament.

The news comes following the announcement that the region will also host a game during the major international competition, following a successful bid led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The event could give the region an economic boost of up to £8million, attracting tens of thousands of international rugby fans to the area.

The team coming to the region is expected to be announced in December once the draw and results of the qualifying games are known.

The bid was put together by a partnership of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Football Club, Darlington Mowden Park RFC, MFC Foundation, Middlesbrough Council and Darlington Borough Council.

Invest Tees Valley Website Launched

In May the Combined Authority launched its Invest Tees Valley website, a dedicated site for businesses looking to inwardly invest in the region.

The site lays out the reasons for investment here, such as our logistics and infrastructure, skills base and innovation and research expertise.

It also lists our practical assets such as sites and premises, our key sectors and the support available for investors. The media centre includes the latest news on business growth, conferences and new developments in our area.

It provides a single point of contact for these companies to our Business Investment Team, who can help with any enquiries for companies looking to relocate or grow.

You can find the website at

Compulsory Purchase Proceedings Begin For Former SSI Site

In April, the South Tees Development Corporation signed an executive order to instigate Compulsory Purchase proceedings in respect of 870 acres of land at the former SSI Steelworks.

It followed a landmark deal signed by the Tees Valley Mayor to acquire over half of the developable land on the South Tees Development Corporation site from Tata Steel Europe. At 1,420 acres, it represents an area about the size of Gibraltar.

Negotiations to secure the former SSI land had been ongoing since May 2017 with the three banks in Thailand who hold a charge over the SSI UK’s assets; Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited, The Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited and TISCO Bank Public Company Limited.

Despite numerous attempts to negotiate a transfer, and an offer from the Development Corporation to enter binding arbitration over the land, no formal agreement has been reached to date. However we will seek to continue with negotiations within the CPO framework.

A successful Compulsory Purchase Order will see the ex-SSI steelmaking assets be brought back into public ownership and in control of the Development Corporation.

Tees Valley Career Hub Set For Boost

Careers support in the region is set for a boost after the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority were successful in their bid to expand the local Careers Hub.

In September last year, The Careers & Enterprise Company launched 20 Careers Hubs across England, with Tees Valley part of the Department for Education’s first national pilot to improve careers support for young people.

The Secretary of State for Education has revealed the Tees Valley Hub will be one of two to be expanded, alongside a second wave of 18 new hubs backed by a further £2.5million investment.

The latest evidence shows that Tees Valley is the strongest performer of all hubs, well outperforming the national average against the Gatsby Benchmarks, Government’s eight guidelines for best careers provision.

The expansion enables an extra 25 schools and colleges to join the programme, working together with Tees Valley Combined Authority, universities, training providers, employers and career professionals. To enhance this offer, Mayor Houchen is extending this offer to all 70 schools and colleges in Tees Valley, to create a single coordinated approach to careers education.

The Hub is another strand in the Combined Authority’s education strategy, which includes the UK-first £3million initiative. This aims to link the region’s 100,000 young people with more than 1,000 businesses to ensure seven meaningful employer engagements while at school.

Online Business Directory Goes Live

The online Tees Valley Business Directory is now live.  This website aims to provide a comprehensive business directory of businesses based within Tees Valley, promoting local employers to businesses and individuals alike, encouraging business collaboration and improving local supply chains.

The directory can be searched by business name, location, industry sector or keywords and already contains details of over 20,000 local businesses.  Businesses can also create accounts and request to be added to the directory, which is overseen and managed by the Strategy, Policy and Intelligence team.

We encourage you to spread the word about the directory and hope that use of the directory will build up over the next few months, before being promoted wider at the Tees Valley Business Summit on 4th July.

The directory can be accessed here

Meet the LEP Member:

Brenda McLeish, CEO of Learning Curve Group

I was born in Stockton and now live in Hartlepool, so I’m obviously very passionate about the Tees Valley and the wider North-East.

I entered the education sector with East Durham College and developed my career in a number of roles before joining Learning Curve Group in 2008. Fast-forward 11 years, and we’ve grown substantially from 40 staff to 430 and 700 associates.

Learning Curve Group provides training to more than 100,000 individuals a year, working with more than 4,500 employers, as well as publishing and selling around 120,000 learning resources and products per year, and work with 160 FE colleges and providers to offer recruitment services and consultancy.

As I saw more and more LEPs taking on more responsibility and influence, especially thanks to devolved funding, I saw a greater opportunity to be able to help influence the skills agenda in the region, and how we can use this to develop the expertise we need.

I’ve officially been a member of the Tees Valley LEP since January and my work includes Chairing the Employer Engagement Workstream, pulling together and engaging with a range of employers to understand their particular skills needs. I’ve also been involved in “shaping the future” events and collaboration and engagement with other LEP members over skills.

Being a training provider, I’ve worked with other Combined Authorities across the country regarding Adult Education Budget devolution, and have been interested to see the other approaches to this and their work. Our approach is the most inclusive and least premeditated and we’re doing great things.

In future, I want to pioneer the growth of apprenticeships across our region. They have the potential to bring so much value to each and every business when they’re used right and employees are on board with the idea of utilising them for their professional development. I’m also eager to encourage inward investment, making Tees Valley the place of choice, and help bring a skills solution to the airport so, as it grows, it has a ready-made workforce.

It’s a really exciting time for Tees Valley, but it’s easy to sit back and monitor progress from the sidelines. I’d encourage any and all business leaders to come and get involved and see what they can contribute as the diverse nature of the LEP is what will make it great.

Policy update:

Local Industrial Strategy

We continue to work towards finalising the Local Industrial Strategy, which will set out our objectives to improve the productivity of the Tees Valley economy between now and 2030.

The overall aim of the Local Industrial Strategy is to maintain and develop the Tees Valley’s competitive advantage in key economic sectors, whilst ensuring that our residents have access to good jobs with long term prospects.

The strategy will provide a framework to achieve these aims, based around the five pillars of productivity –Innovation, People, Place, Infrastructure and Business Environment.

It will include a plan for delivering our ambition, with interventions organised around five emerging themes:

  • Leading the way as an exemplar region for industrial decarbonisation and clean growth
  • Developing pioneering capabilities in industrial digitalisation and ensuring the implementation of digital applications at scale
  • Leveraging the full potential of our innovation ecosystem in support of building R&D capability, commercialisation and business growth
  • Growing and widening the pipeline of talent to support our competitive advantages and help more local people into jobs with good long-term prospects
  • Positioning the Tees Valley as a leading place to live, invest and grow a business

Inclusive Growth

On May 17 2019 the Tees Valley Combined Authority held a workshop on Inclusive Growth to inform the development of the Local Industrial Strategy.

The workshop was attended by over 80 representatives from local businesses, authorities, employer and industry bodies and education and training providers.

The Inclusive Growth Monitor developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) rates Inclusive Growth on the basis of:

  • Economic Inclusion (income; living costs; access to labour market)
  • Prosperity (economic performance; employment levels; skills level)

In terms of Tees Valley’s performance against the metrics identified by JRF, latest data shows Tees Valley ranked 37th out of the 39 LEPs. The region is, however, ranked 3rd out of 39 overall for Recent Change, particularly in terms of Prosperity.

Key areas highlighted by workshop attendees broadly fell into three themes:

  • Education and Skills
  • Procurement
  • Employment

Feedback from the workshop is being fed into the development of the LIS.