‘It’s common sense – not politics’ as 600+ businesses back airport plan

More than 600 businesses representing thousands of Tees workers have played a major part in convincing the region’s council leaders to back Ben Houchen’s airport plan.

A statement from Tees mayor Houchen released earlier today, and originally embargoed until Wednesday morning, revealed how company bosses signed a joint letter to the region’s five Labour council leaders, urging them to vote for mayor Houchen’s plan to bring Durham Tees Valley Airport back into public ownership this Thursday.

The embargo was lifted on Tuesday lunchtime when it was confirmed Redcar and Cleveland leader Sue Jeffrey, Stockton leader Bob Cook and Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd would be backing the deal.

Representing some of the biggest employers in the area, such as Able UK, AV Dawson, Cleveland Bridge, Nifco UK and Visualsoft, the letter sets out why the council leaders should vote in favour of the Tees Valley Investment Plan on Thursday – which includes the acquisition of the airport and money for the South Tees Development Corporation site in Redcar.

The letter has also secured the support of hundreds of small and medium sized enterprises in the region.

Chris Petty (pictured above), managing director at Cornerstone Group, said: “Backing Ben’s plan is the obvious thing to do.

“The current owners have publicly stated that there will be no airport if Ben’s plan is not backed by the five Labour council leaders.

“It has now to come down to common sense and not politics. This region with all of the other plans like the SSI site needs a local airport.

“This has to happen. We are passionate about the area, as well as many other Teesside businesses, and we are all willing Ben’s plan to succeed.”

Matthew Ord, company ambassador at LV Shipping, said: “LV Shipping play a vital role in the economy of Teesside and we are 100% behind Ben’s plan. We would significantly benefit from having an airport in the heart of Teesside, as would our 500+ customers in the area.

“Our councillors must back this plan for a number of reasons, namely as this is what the people want and this is what business has been in desperate need of for many years now.”

Brenda McLeish, CEO of Learning Curve Group, said: “To enable the region to prosper, increase jobs and for us to support the skills of workers in the region, it is important that we have an airport on our doorstep.

“We work with many businesses to upskill their workforce, and connectivity is a key driver.”

Mick Flynn, managing director at Unasys, said: “The airport is vital for us as we strive to make Teesside a thriving centre for renewables and decommissioning.

“With clients and staff up in Aberdeen, we rely on the ease of access which the airport currently provides.

“Looking further afield, our global oil and gas clients need to know they can send people to the region to work with us. The airport provides them with that confidence, not only in us but in the region.

“Not having that connection would seriously impact our growth as we look to create more jobs in the Tees Valley.”

Mauro Battista, director at Guidos Hair Salon in Middlesbrough, said: “As a local resident and business owner, it is imperative that our regional airport remains open as it can only benefit the whole of Teesside and further afield. Having a thriving international airport creates more jobs, and the Tees Valley area will be more accessible to prospective businesses from other areas.”

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