Stockton Council leader Bob Cook says he will back Ben Houchen’s airport plan at a crunch meeting on Thursday.
Members of the Tees Valley Combined Authority’s cabinet are due to consider the Tees Valley Investment Plan 2019-29 at a special meeting on Thursday.
The plan seeks approval for more than £588m of investments across the Tees Valley.
Those investments include a total of up to £131m for the South Tees Development Corporation site and the purchase of Durham Tees Valley Airport.
And councillor Cook, leader of Stockton Council, has confirmed that he intends to vote in support of the plan.
“The Tees Valley Investment Plan is yet another product of the longstanding collaborative work of the five councils that established the Combined Authority,” he said.
“We’ve worked together constructively, maturely and for the good of the region for many years now and we’re very proud of this plan, which sets out how we will drive growth through investment in key sectors and sites, and in things like skills, infrastructure, culture and tourism.
“I’m like any other resident of this area in that I want to see the SSI site redeveloped and I want to see the airport succeed. A thriving airport can only be a great thing for local people, businesses and the economy.
“But with big investments come big risks – in this case the main concerns are the lack of a formal agreement with an experienced airport operator and the fact that the aviation sector is notoriously difficult and brutally competitive.
“There’s also the cost. Buying the airport and the land at the South Tees Development Corporation site will tie up a lot of money over a long period and that may hinder our ability to capitalise on other opportunities in the future.
“And I still firmly believe the redevelopment of the South Tees Development Corporation site should have been wholly-funded by Government and not paid for out of Combined Authority funds.
“But after listening to local people and weighing it all up, I’ve reached a decision that I’ll be voting in support of the investment plan.”
Cllr Cook joins Hartlepool Council leader, Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, and Darlington Council leader, Stephen Harker, in publicly supporting the plan.
Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd and Redcar and Cleveland leader Sue Jeffrey are expected to make statements today (Tuesday).