Labour’s Tees Valley mayoral candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs believes Darlington’s success in winning the race for Treasury North will keep the entire region in the government’s thoughts.
Responding to a Budget that became a good-news day for the Tees region, she said: “It is good day for the Tees Valley. I and many of us campaigned for Treasury jobs to come to one of our town centres.
“I was worried the Tees mayor seemed to be only pushing the airport site. So this is great news that government are backing Darlington and one of our brilliant town centres.
“Between 2010 and 2020, we lost 6,680 civil servant jobs in the North-East many of those were in this area so this will be a massive and very welcome boost for the area, to at least some of these type of jobs returning.
“A Treasury North was in the 2019 Labour manifesto. It will bring jobs and investment to the town, increase footfall on the high street and spending in local businesses.
“It will also put the potential of the Tees firmly in the sight and thinking of government, ensuring we get future investments. And if we don’t, it also means I won’t have far to go to knock heads together.”
On news that Teesside had also got the green light for a freeport, Jacobs said she welcomed “anything” that brought jobs and investment to the area.
“The UK have had freeports before and they are not quite the silver bullet for jobs we are being promised as they tend to move jobs rather than create new ones,” she said. “They can also be ripe for exploitation, trafficking and workers’ rights abuses so we need some strong assurances and protections.
“But if it means investment in the Tees then we need to find a way to ensure they work. The job now is to get the new, secure and skilled jobs with good wages and conditions. That is what we desperately need here.
“The incentives for business to come here are important though and we must make sure we take the opportunity to build an economy fit for the future.
Responding to the chancellor’s Budget, Labour’s Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: “We needed a Budget that laid the foundations of a post-Covid world, and rebuilt the economy with a long-term plan.
“The Tees Valley needed a budget to help replace the extra 12,500 jobs lost in the last 11 months – six for everyone announced over the last three years. What we got was short-termism from a chancellor and another of those promises of jobs for our area without the investment and detail needed to deliver them.
He added: “I’ve always said that the Treasury jobs should come to Teesside and I’m pleased that Darlington will be the home for them. It is critical they are in the town centre to contribute to the wider regeneration of the Tees Valley.
“The Teesside freeport announcement wasn’t unexpected – and could play a part in our recovery – but it is not the silver-bullet the chancellor would have us believe. It must be developed to create new jobs – not some moved from somewhere else for the tax advantages – and really benefit our local people.
“What we need is real investment in local industries such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen industries, as well as a Local Industrial Plan that will create well paid, good quality jobs to get the thousands of people who have lost theirs over the last few years back to work.”