Lord Michael Heseltine has visited Teesside to discuss plans to drive forward investment opportunities for the region.
Accompanied by Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton, Lord Heseltine met with local leaders for talks on growth, jobs and boosting the local economy.
The visit came days after Lord Heseltine was appointed chair of the Tees Valley Inward Investment Initiative, which will have a specific remit to attract foreign investment and boost the region’s international profile.
In this new role, Lord Heseltine will work closely with UK Trade & Investment, the Tees Valley Unlimited Local Enterprise Partnership and the Redcar SSI taskforce to oversee negotiations with potential investors.
This will support and supplement the work being carried out by the SSI Taskforce.
Lord Heseltine, who was accompanied by Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton, met business and council leaders and James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce.
Lord Heseltine said: “It is a great honour to be asked to help with the Government response to the sad events in the steel industry in Teesside.
“I look forward to joining James Wharton, the local MP and Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, in Teesside to meet those engaged in a number of local initiatives and determine how I can support their activities.”
Paul Booth, chair of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said: “Collaboration is key to delivering a sustainable economic recovery plan that will benefit those affected by recent job losses and the meeting with Lord Heseltine was very constructive.
“We need industrial solutions based on a circular economy concept with a primary focus on competitive energy.
“Key projects for us are carbon capture, storage and conversion, waste-to-power and rebuilding the energy, oil and gas supply chain
Chair of the Shadow Combined Authority and Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Councillor Sue Jeffrey, said: “We have had positive discussions today with Lord Heseltine, which have been much needed as jobs continue to be lost from the Tees Valley.
“The SSI Task Force has worked well so far, but it is clear that we now need to look at a Tees-wide model with further investment from the Government.
“We also need to speed up our devolution deal, which will help to get our economy back up and running again.”
The Government has committed a £80m direct support package, following the closure of the SSI Steelworks plant and is determined to do all it can to secure new long-term growth opportunities for the area and get the hardworking people of Teesside into new employment.