Sue Jeffrey to back airport plan

Sue Jeffrey is the latest council leader to say she intends to back Ben Houchen’s airport plan on Thursday.

In a statement, the Redcar and Cleveland Council leader says she backs the 10-year Investment Plan, which includes the airport buyout proposal.

Cllr Jeffrey follows Stockton leader Bob Cook, Hartlepool leader Christopher Akers-Belcher and Darlington Council leader Stephen Harker in publicly supporting the plan.

The plan only needs one rejection and Middlesbrough mayor Dave Budd is expected to reveal his intentions today.

Cllr Jeffrey said: “On Thursday the Leaders of the five local Councils and the Tees Valley Mayor will meet to consider our new Tees Valley ten year Investment Plan which includes the proposals to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport.

“I and the other Labour Leaders fought a long battle to bring devolution to the Tees Valley and I am proud our efforts have resulted in this new ten year Investment Plan setting out spending proposals worth more than £588m.

“The plan is funded by cash from our devolution deal and will deliver projects across Redcar and Cleveland and the Tees Valley that will genuinely grow our economy, deliver improved transport and ensure that local people have the skills they need to get local jobs that are full-time and pay a decent wage.

“But our devolution cash is not limitless and we still have to make choices about where it can best be invested to support a better future for all the people of the Tees Valley.

“The mayor’s airport deal is one of those choices. It is the biggest single project in the plan that is funded only from our own resources and it has been allocated £75m of devolution cash (£40m to buy the airport and surrounding land, up to £20m to cover operating losses and £15m for improvements).

“If it fails then just over half of that cost can be recovered by selling the land. Not one penny of the funding is being provided by the private sector and not one bit of the financial risk will be taken by the operator, all the money comes from us and all the financial risk is taken by us.

“Does that add up to a good choice for the people of Redcar and Cleveland? Only time will tell…

“Despite all the hype, there will be no separate vote this week to ‘save the airport’.

“The decision is whether or not to support our ten year Investment Plan that includes bringing much needed funds to this Borough.

“These are resources that will help us address the poverty caused by low pay and part-time work, under-funded schools, poor access to training, limited and expensive public transport and the need to invest to secure a sustainable future for our industry, our businesses and our high-streets.

“These are the things that I care about and work for every day and where I want to see every penny of our money spent. They are my priority and my focus.

“That is why, despite my real and continuing concerns about the costs and the risks associated with the mayor’s airport plan, I will be voting for our ten year Investment Plan on Thursday and then working to ensure that every single part of it, including the airport, has the best possible chance of success.”


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