THE Chief Secretary to the Treasury said he was impressed by the "brilliant businesses" he'd seen during a fact finding mission to Teesside.

Danny Alexander visited family run firm AV Dawson, in Middlesbrough, having earlier visited Tag Energy Solutions, at Haverton Hill, Billingham, and EDF Energy's offshore windfarm base at Redcar.

During the visit, he announced new banking reforms which will require the UK's biggest banks to reveal how much they each lend at a local level.

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Mr Alexander said the scheme would increase competition among businesses and transparency.

AV Dawson celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and has seen major growth in the marine and offshore sectors. The firm has invested £10m in a growth infrastructure plan, which includes £1.2m of funding allocated through the Government's Regional Growth Fund.]

Mr Alexander saw watched steel being loaded for Nissan from the 100 acre site.

He said: "It reinforces my conviction that we need to be doing everything we can to support manufacturing.

"There are so many brilliant businesses in the North-East doing important things in renewable energy and AV Dawson is just one of them. It's amazing to see how the business has grown over the last 75 years. I've been hugely impressed."

Gary Dawson, the firms managing director, said: "We were delighted the Minister could see some of the good news stories on Teesside and how businesses here are investing and looking to the future.

"He seemed to fully understand the strategic importance of the infrastructure improvements that we're undertaking and how they're related to the emerging renewable energy industries, in particular the offshore wind, subsea energy and biofuels markets."

During his visit to wind turbine manufacturer Tag Mr Alexander met some of the 150-strong workforce working on projects such as the Humber Gateway scheme.

He said: "Offshore wind is a major part of our need to meet our future energy requirements and we need to make sure that British businesses and British workers are getting the benefit from that. 

Alex Dawson, Tag chief executive, said: "It gave us another opportunity to demonstrate to government that the North-East has a vibrant manufacturing sector that is not only geared up for the growth of the offshore wind sector, but is delivering now.

"With the support of government, the UK offshore wind supply chain can flourish and ensure that it can carve out a strong proportion of the market against the competition from the more established European supply chain."