Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen described it as a “seismic day” for the Teesside that would “define our region for decades” as the combined authority cabinet voted unanimously in support of a multi-million pound investment plan – including buying back Durham Tees Valley Airport.
More than 250 members of the public and representatives of the region’s business community packed into the Jury’s Inn Hotel in Middlesbrough for a dramatic special meeting – with cabinet members voting on a plan that outlined new proposals to invest £588m over the next 10 years.
Whilst the plan to “buy back” the airport from Peel Group was the focus of attention, it represented only a small part of the overall investment plan which also includes the land acquisition at the South Tees Development Corporation, covering the former steelworks.
A unanimous vote by all cabinet members was required to approve the plan – and, after much advance debate, the leaders of Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar & Cleveland, Darlington and Hartlepool had all indicated in advance of the meeting that they would support the deal.
Members of the public, business community and all five council leaders spoke at the meeting which ended with a unanimous vote, greeted by applause from across the room.
Houchen said: “It would be wrong of us not to acknowledge the risks involved in the airport plan.
“It’s a 10-year plan. Over those 10 years we’ll increase passengers numbers to 1.4 million a year, we’ll get back into profit and we’ll see the introduction of new routes, and we’ll stop the planned housing development.
“These things can’t all happen on Day One, this is a seismic change for our area, but what we’ve done today is come together, put politics aside and said ‘This is the right thing for Teesside’.
“We’re going forward together, because this is a joint plan, and we should all be proud of what has been approved.”
The plan sets out the transformational investments that Tees Valley Combined Authority will commit resources to, subject to the detailed consideration and appraisal of project business cases.