Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Teesside Will Get Back on Track - We Always Do

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Teesside Will Get Back on Track - We Always Do

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Blackburn Senior Reporter mike.blackburn@trinitymirror.com

FOLLOWING the collapse of the Redcar steel plant, does Teesside still have a role in the Government's Northern Powerhouse plans? We asked Northern Powerhouse Minister, MP James Wharton if Teesside can ever be a major player against the likes of Manchester and Newcastle without steel, one of our key industries? Q: Does the loss of SSI mean Teesside no longer has a role to play in the Northern Powerhouse? Absolutely not - Teesside is an instrumental part of the Northern Powerhouse and has shown how it can lead the way by agreeing one of the first devolution deals with government.

There is no denying Teesside has suffered harsh economic news this year, but we have a resilient economy and a great local workforce.

So while the loss of SSI was a terrible blow I have no doubt that Teesside will recover and continue to grow as it has countless times in the past.

Today 10,000 more people are employed in Teesside than five years ago. We have companies doing well and expanding, like Visualsoft in Stockton or Nifco in Eaglescliffe. There are huge investments on our doorstep, including Hitachi at Aycliffe and Sirius in North Yorkshire. The second half of 2015 has been a hard one for Teesside, but the fundamentals of our economy are sound.

Teesside has a lot to give to the national economy and the Northern Powerhouse. We will get back on Q: How can we be ever be a major player against the likes of Manchester and Newcastle without steel, one of our key industries? The Redcar plant closed in 2010 and our economy still grew thanks to our great workforce and local businesses. You cannot base an economy on one industry alone, particularly one that is so vulnerable to the world market. We have a range of big companies and industry, particularly in chemicals, with world leading expertise. We also have new investments being made and jobs created. We are leading on new technologies like graphene innovation and bio sciences. We are well placed to plot a positive course into the future.

Teesside has also signed up for a devolution deal. This will bring millions of pounds in Government support with a new investment fund.

It will also transfer powers and controls to local people who know the area best and puts us at the top table when it comes to the Northern Powerhouse project.

From the replacement of all the old pacer train rolling stock on our railways to the huge expansion of local enterprise zones, there are reasons to be optimistic.

Q: The European Commission has confirmed that the UK Government could have given state aid support to Redcar steelworks for a number of reasons, for example to support training and employment. Why did the Government not step in to help? This is a very misleading statement. You cannot give general aid and dress it up as "training and employment". …

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