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Tees Valley Newsletter – Summer 2021

Message from the Mayor 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen | Tees Valley Combined Authority

As the country continues to slowly come out of lockdown, we’ve been taking every opportunity to press ahead with our transformational work across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

Following my re-election on May 6, I vowed to get straight back to work to deliver on our key priorities such as continuing the turnaround of Teesside Airport, turbocharging work at Teesworks and delivering the Teesside Freeport, as well as supporting our amazing local businesses to recover from the pandemic.

While the aviation industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, we’ve continued to use this time to bring forward our terminal redevelopment, and the new-look building has thrown its doors open to passengers setting off for some summer sun.

Almost all of the work was carried out by local firms, continuing my pledge that the airport would work for everyone in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, and not just those wanting flights to Alicante. Luckily, we’ve got those now too!

To truly take advantage of all of the opportunities of the UK’s largest Freeport in the region, I’ve also promised that after contracts for demolition are appointed in August, the structures on Teesworks will be cleared within the year.

We’ve been doing lots of work to capture the redevelopment of the site with photographers and videographers recording the remediation and our heritage coins – a chance to take home a part of the steelworks – have also been a huge success.

On top of this, progress continues at our two biggest railway stations, we’re expanding two other popular transport schemes and I’ve announced funding to help make sure our popular festivals can take place safely this year.

At this difficult time, we still all need something to look forward to, and below you can read about all the progress we’ve made through the spring.


Summer Flights Take Off as Terminal Transformed

Teesside International Airport has opened its doors to show off its new look to passengers taking off on Ryanair’s recently launched holiday services.

Europe’s number one low-cost carrier has kicked off its much-requested flights to Palma in Majorca, Alicante and Faro, capital of Portugal’s Algarve region, with the Greek island of Corfu coming soon.

Loganair is also now running its services to Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Jersey and Newquay, with its connection to London Heathrow going three-times daily from 12 July. It has also announced a deal with British Airways that allows passengers to travel on one ticket internationally from Teesside via the capital

A total of 92% of the work to transform the terminal was carried out by contractors from the local area. This redevelopment includes a new check-in area and state-of-the-art body and baggage scanners in an upgraded security zone.

New food and drink options, the Landside Café and the Goosepool Bar have been created, alongside the refurbished Transporter Bar and Kitchen and two new executive lounges, the Middleton Lounge and Rockliffe Lounge. The boutique House of Zana and Rejoy store is championing local retailers, there is a new newsagent and World Duty Free will soon be setting up shop as part of a new 12-year deal.

To encourage more passengers, the airport has also axed the unpopular £6 passenger facility fee, which will also act as a draw for more airlines looking to fly from Teesside International.


Demolitions To Ramp Up At Teesworks

Demolition of all the major steelmaking facilities at the former Redcar Steelworks will start within weeks, with every structure expected to be down within a year.

The first phase of the work has been taking place since the Teesworks site was launched last July and already 691 jobs have been created.

The pace of demolition across the site will now be accelerated so that the land is investor-ready faster and jobs for local workers can be delivered sooner. The work will see all of the old iron and steelmaking plants demolished, with contracts for their demolition appointed by August and work beginning on 2 August. It is expected more than 1,000 workers will be on-site over the next 12 months to carry out the work.

To give people a chance to take home part of the site, Teesworks coins were forged from some of the last iron to be produced at the blast furnace. These have now sold out, raising more than £25,000 for Redcar mental health charity Walk N Talk and the town’s voluntary community group Ladies of Steel.

Plans have also been unveiled for the redevelopment of the site’s iconic Steel House building. A total of 15 workers are on site now removing more than 3,500 pieces of redundant furniture and equipment and establish safe zones for surveyors and architects to investigate the building ahead of further remediation.

When the redevelopment is complete, the building will become the headquarters for the full redevelopment of the 4,500-acre site.


Major Station Upgrades On Track

Work has been moving forward on the redevelopment of both Darlington and Middlesbrough railway stations.

Plans for the £100million transformation of Darlington station have been revealed, with the formal planning application submitted to Darlington Borough Council.

The scheme will create three new platforms on the east side of the existing station to accommodate current and future services, a new station building and a footbridge linking the new platforms and building with the existing station. An upgrade to the Victoria Road entrance and car park, pick up and drop off points on the western side of the station is also planned.

The extension to Middlesbrough station’s platform 2 has also recently been completed. The 75m increase to the length of the platform will allow it to accommodate LNER’s new Azuma trains which will be used for its Middlesbrough to London route being introduced later this year.

Work will now turn to the next phases of the scheme, with major customer service improvements including opening up the dilapidated station undercroft to provide a new entrance into the station subway and newly refurbished shops and office units.

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 increase train capacity within the station.


Transport Pilots Extended After Huge Success

Two major transport programmes have been extended in the Tees Valley following the success of their pilot schemes.

Wheels 2 Work, established in 2018, has helped more than 150 people across the Tees Valley who do not have easy access to public transport or a private vehicle secure affordable transport, so they can get to their job or education.

Now, a further £645,000 in funding has been invested so that the service, delivered by the Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, can continue to March 2024. It will also provide 75 electric motorbikes which are expected to help 400 people across the region access jobs.

Government has also announced that the UK e-scooter trial, which is currently in place across Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, is being extended until March 2022.

The GPS-tracked e-scooters in the towns have now been taken on 23,600 journeys by 14,000 regular users, travelling more than 81,600 miles between them – equivalent to a third of the distance to the moon or 3.5 times around the world.


Festival Fund Aims to Deliver Summer of Fun

A total of 17 Tees Valley festivals have been awarded part of a £350,000 fund to ensure the show can go on this year.

Festivals including Middlesbrough Mela, Hartlepool Waterfront Festival, Darlington R&B Festival, Stockton’s Make and Mend and The Festival of Thrift in Redcar and Cleveland secured funding to help them adapt and deliver their events in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

A strong schedule of events running to December is essential to give local people something to look forward to as lockdown restrictions continue to be relaxed, encourage visitors to the region and help our town centres and some of our hardest-hit businesses recover.

The Tees Valley Festivals 2021 Recovery Fund is the latest support for the culture and tourism sectors to be implemented by a culture Task Force chaired by ARC’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director Annabel Turpin.

The new Festivals 2021 Recovery Fund was created in the wake of the success of other backing for our culture, leisure and hospitality sectors. These include the £1million Welcome Back Fund and schemes under the £1million Recovery Programme for the Cultural Industries and Visitor Economy, including the £300,000 Cultural Development and Innovation Fund and the Tees Valley Young Creatives: Class of 2021 scheme.


Long-serving Members Step Down from LEP Board

The Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership is bidding a fond farewell to a number of its members, including LEP Chair Paul Booth CBE, following a new recruitment drive.

The terms of eight members of the LEP are now coming to an end, with each and every one of them providing invaluable private sector insight to help guide the work of the Combined Authority. Many have played a role from the very inception of the Combined Authority in its current form and were a huge part of why it was described as “a fantastic example of public-private sector partnership, the strongest and most ambitious in the country” by Paul Drechsler CBE, former Vice-President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Chancellor of Teesside University.

So we would like to say a massive thank you to Paul Booth CBE, David Soley, Graham Robb, Vikki Jackson Smith, Angela Howey, Mike Matthews, Nigel Perry and Jerry Hopkinson for their hard work, dedication and advice.

To help ensure an equal and diverse membership as part of the new drive, there has been a commitment to achieve 50% female representation on the LEP board.

New LEP members will be agreed by the Combined Authority Cabinet during its next Annual General Meeting on 2 July.


Policy Update

Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech took place on 11 May 2021 and set out the legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session. The announcements relevant to the work of the Combined Authority are set out below:

  • Levelling Up White Paper to be published later this year, setting out new policy interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK (further detail below).
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund to be launched in 2022.
  • Rail Reform: White Paper containing proposals to transform the railways and deliver for passengers (Great British Railways: The Williams – Shapps Plan for Rail below).
  • Skills and Post-16 Education Bill: Legislation to support a lifetime skills guarantee to enable flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives.
  • Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill: Legislation to create the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) as a new statutory corporation to fund high-risk, high-reward R&D.
  • Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill: Proposals to extend 5G mobile coverage and gigabit capable broadband.
  • National Insurance Contributions Bill: To provide employers with a relief from National Insurance contributions for eligible new employees in Freeports for three years, up to earnings of £25,000 per annum. Freeport employers will be able to claim this relief on all new hires from April 2022.
  • Environment Bill: The Bill puts the environment at the centre of policy making, making sure that this government, and those in the future, are held accountable for making progress on environmental issues.


Great British Railways: The Williams – Shapps Plan for Rail

The Williams-Shapps plan for Rail White Paper sets out the government’s long-term plan for the railway system in Great Britain and makes the following promises:

The government will:

  • Bring the railways back together, delivering more punctual and reliable services.
  • Make the railways easier to use.
  • Rebuild public transport after the pandemic.
  • Maintain safe, secure railways for all.
  • Keep the best elements of the private sector that have helped drive growth.
  • Make the railways more efficient.
  • Grow the network.

Levelling Up White Paper

The government will publish a Levelling Up White Paper later this year, detailing how new policy interventions will improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country as we recover from the pandemic. A new No10 – Cabinet Office Unit is to be set up to drive through work on the White Paper and the Prime Minister has appointed Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough, as his Levelling Up Adviser.