Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston’s defiant coronavirus message…
Now is the time to stand up and fight – but also to stand together. That’s my message to Teesside businesses and the many employees who will now be understandably concerned about their futures.
Life feels completely unfair right now. The sheer speed and nature of the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on our economy has left our region, along with most of the world, in a state of shock.
Of course, our priority is to save lives and our actions to do so have inevitably meant our businesses have taken a big hit. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how long it will be before normality returns, which makes it so much harder to plan a way forward.
But sooner or later we will definitely come through this. And I am absolutely certain our businesses will bounce back, brimming with as much, if not more, ambition, innovation and drive as they had before we were hit by this crisis beyond our control.
As the coronavirus crisis took control, my initial reaction was that I should drop the feature on the opposite page about Boho X and our plans to make Middlesbrough the UK’s digital city. But I then realised that would send out the wrong message.
Because while our ambitious digital plans are likely to be delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak, they definitely have not been cancelled. Will the pandemic delay the start of building work on Boho X? Almost certainly. But it will be just that – a delay. It’s a blow but it’s not a fatal blow.
We will bounce back. And it is that same defiant, resourceful and determined attitude that is a part of so many Teessiders that will ensure our businesses bounce back too.
Things will be tough, of course. Businesses will struggle. Some may inevitably fail. Jobs will be lost, many talented people will suffer redundancy through no fault of their own, and there will be times when life feels bleak.
But this unprecedented situation, as horrible as it is, won’t be forever. We’re pushing on with our ambition for Boho X and many other incredible projects and innovations. If this crisis slows things down, then so be it, but our ambition remains completely unbowed.
In the meantime, let’s stick together, look out for each other, take this opportunity to reassess what’s important and be ready to make the postcoronavirus era a boom period for Teesside.